Tai Chi Qigong

Tai Chi Qigong by definition refers to Tai Chi energy work. In this post I will try to shed some light on what is meant by the Qigong energy work aspect of the practice.

Tai Chi Qigong is often taught as a set of moves separate from the Tai Chi sets. I have found that the vast majority of the time these other moves do not come with much of an explanation of why and how they are any different from the Tai Chi in the Tai Chi sets and that the moves by themselves do not impart any kind of ability different than what is already available in the Tai Chi sets.

So, what is Tai Chi Qigong? First of all the Tai Chi moves are just Tai Chi choreography or moves until you begin to actually to practice the energetic aspects of the art. The real practice of Tai Chi is Qigong. As soon as you start practicing the energetic aspects the Tai Chi so to speak then you are really practicing Tai Chi (probably with the moves) and not just the moves. At that same moment you are now practicing and or applying the Qigong.

An obvious question at this point might be so what makes Tai Chi Qigong? That is a very big question because the answer could and does fill books. I will try to shed some light on it here.

First of all in Tai Chi Qigong are the physical structural alignments which are a necessity for the proper flow of energy through and around the body including through the acupuncture meridians of the body. This is part of the reason that so much emphasis gets put on the moves at the beginning of a students training and why it stays an important issue in training as one progresses. Incorrect and bad posture impedes and blocks energy flow so it is important to get it right. While you are learning and working on this you are not really performing Tai Chi yet but are simply learning something you need to understand to perform real Tai Chi.

One of the first things you learn in Tai Chi and that is a necessity in Tai Chi Qigong is known as Sung which translates as relaxation both inside and out. Any tension in the body will impede or stop the flow of energy through the body. This can be structural tension (bad or improper positioning), physical tension (like holding tension in your shoulders or neck simply because you do not allow them to relax) or mental or emotional tension that is manifested in the body such as jaws clenched and a tight face when someone is having a bad day.

So, for proper Tai Chi and Tai Chi Qigong you first need Sung relaxation and proper posture. Once you have these you can really perform Tai Chi and Tai Chi Qigong.

The next step in solo Tai Chi practice is all Qigong. You begin to work different aspects of energy within your Tai Chi both for fighting and for self defense purposes. There are approximately 36 different primary expressions of energy in Tai Chi. You use your mind to direct the internal movement and chi into an expression. That expression is known as Jing. Jing is an expression of Chi or energy hence it is energy work. A few jing expressions are well known and some are quite obscure.

We will look more at some of the Tai Chi Qigong expressions in the next post.


  1. Sigung,

    Do you practice or encourage specific Qigong excerises, either Jing Gong or Dong Gong, in addition to focusing on the Qigong aspect/expression throughout your t’ai chi ch’uan?

    I know from my reading on your website (I am now almost caught up, by the way!) that you rightfully place great importance on Wu Chi and that you also teach a bone marrow cleansing exercise in your basic curriculum but I am curious as to whether you personally practice any other qigong exercises or routines in addition to your taichi forms (which, of course, ARE moving qigong, or dong gong!)

    For instance, do you practice the five animal frolics (Wu Qin Xi) or eight section brocade (Ba Duan Jin)? How about Carry the moon, Lifting the Sky or other elements of 18 Lohan Hands?

    I am just wondering!


    P.S. I have modified my logon account to only show my first name on posts as it just felt too formal to include my last name…

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