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Tai Chi or Qigong (Chee , Chi) (Gong, Kung) … is there a difference?

June 7, 2018

First of all,  it is Qigong.  Phonetically,  it is Chee Gong  …   like cheese without the se, and a gong, like you clang.

It’s funny, like most people 20 plus years ago I had never really heard of Tai Chi or Qigong.  From movies and tv shows I knew of Karate and Kung Fu, and through a friend Jujitsu.    But that was it.  I had never seen them life or had any real interaction with them.

I took a class called Kateda and learned how to get beat up while getting strong, using some basic and intense martial arts style movements.   There I met a man, a 12th degree TaeKwonDo grandmaster, who later became my sensei .

When I began training with Sensi Tom the training was in traditional Tai Chi movements, a lot of walking, tons of walking to be exact, for months on end.  He said that walking was a foundation of all else to follow.  We eventually moved into form work which ended up a very eclectic mix of styles.  It was however, mostly Tai Chi based with flavors of Taekwondo and yoga tossed in for good measure.

Over time Sensei Tom added in some Qigong.  I was not into it at the time. I felt like I was doing Tai Chi so who needed Qigong. Little did I know at the time.

Now, after working with Qigong  for 15 years, I wish I had learned this from the start.  I find more benefits than I ever imagined.  I was dead wrong in my initial assessment.

So, back to the reason for this posting.

Yes, there is a huge difference between Tai Chi and Qigong although you could say they are joined at the hip.

Qigong is older. About 5000 years old or there about.  It existed for a few generations , went through years of development, alteration, semi-abandonment and secretive practice.   Developed for health benefits, Qigong was meant for internal health. Energy and overall wellness.  Flexibility of body,  energizing  and healing the physical  body and mental acuity were heavily targeted.  Extending life / longevity was the goal.

Eventually, about 3500 years ago, Qigong techniques were adopted by the Shaoulin Monks who incorporated the principles of Qigong with the martial art movements of self defense they had developed.  The monks result was early Tai Chi.

More about using the energy for increasing the power of the martial aspects, Tai Chi is a fighting / sparring art at its core. It does involve energy work, mindfulness and contains health benefits in the practice however that is not it’s main mission.  Whereas, Qigong is health based at its core, comprised of slow, gentle, flowing movements meant to provide ongoing improvement and overall health maintenance.

Viewing internal organs as systems that use our bodies (and the universes) energies to run and maintain, the goal of Qigong is to keep them all in balance.  Between mind, body and spirit, when all are in balance, the body maintains its equilibrium.

I could go on and on however I will end with:

The difference:  Tai Chi is a martial art.  Qigong is not.

If you want to learn fighting skills and get health and wellness benefits,  go Tai Chi.  Keep in mind, it takes longer to learn and gain the health benefits from.

If you want to improve your internal  (organ health) and external (flexibility / mobility) and mental health, go Qigong.  You can begin to benefit from it immediately and it takes much less time to learn basic movements that will provide ongoing results.




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