Question from David, PT, Indiana
Surprise! We are adding a Q&A newsletter to our monthly offerings. This months question comes from David, a physical therapist in Indiana. “What is the difference between Qigong and Tai Chi?”
This is a common question and has been answered in many different ways by many different people. For our purposes at the IRQTC and from the point of research,Qigong and Tai Chi are synonymous, offering the same benefits of improved physical and psychological health. I personally like the idea of Qigong being the “mother” of Tai Chi. Qi may be translated as “universal life force” or “breath” while Gong can be considered “cultivation”, “practice”, or “work”. Combine these terms in whatever way serves you best (ie breath-cultivation, working with the life force, etc…) and you may find yourself in the ballpark of its true meaning.
Qigong casts a wide net of practice ranging from hard martial arts to quiet meditation all of which use the breath as the primary point of focus. Being a martial arts practice based on yielding and using the breath to cultivate internal energy, Tai Chi falls somewhere in the middle. Some people have also noted that Qigong practice happens when you are standing still and Tai Chi when your feet are moving. In addition, while Tai Chi is traditionally practiced in a choreographed set of movements, Qigong is often done more spontaneously and freeform. Honestly, this discussion will most likely continue for at least as many centuries as it has already been going on, with the best answer coming from your own experience.
Speaking of experience, what are some of yours? How are you using Qigong & Tai Chi in your own life and practice? Send in questions, comments, and share your experiences with the rest of the IRQTC community.
Brian Trzaskos, Founder, IRQTC
Originally published October 2014.