What are the differences between Qigong and Tai Chi?


There are similarities and differences between the practices of Qigong and Tai Chi. Both are practices that focus on cultivating energy, also known as qi or chi.

Keep on reading to learn more!

Brief History of Qigong vs Tai Chi

Qigong and Tai Chi have a long history. They also stem from common origins but have differences in how they’re practiced. The practice of Qigong stems from the practice of cultivating qi (chi), primarily for health practices. Tai Chi also cultivates chi but has more of a background in the martial arts.

What is Qi or chi? Qi is the fundamental vital life force that underlies and permeates the universe and all living things.

The practice of Qigong began as early as several thousand years ago. By 1970, as Eastern medicine became more pronounced, Qigong became more widespread.

Some scholars credit the Taoist monk Chang San-Feng with the development of Tai Chi in the 12th Century A. D. There are other authorities who say the art was developed at a another time.

Different families practiced a variation of Tai Chi until more unified and commercial forms became prominent.

Let’s now delve into demystifying Qigong vs Tai Chi.

What Is Qi Gong?

Qigong is a mind and body practice that can improve one’s health and well-being. Qi refers to the life force or vital energy, which is the energy that gives power to the mind, body, and spirit. Gong refers to work or gathering of Qi.

Qigong practices can include movement, breathing exercises, meditation, sound, self-massage and focused intent. There are likely thousands of forms of Qigong that have been developed over the years.

Qigong enhances the flow of energy in the energetic pathways called meridians that are used in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are thousands of studies that show the effectiveness of Qigong in improving a myriad of health conditions.

What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is the short form for Taiji Quan. It’s practiced for both health and self defense purposes. The art is meant to develop and integrate the mind, body and spirit. It’s origin lies in ancient China, and now has become very popular with people practicing all over the world.

Tai Chi calls for vast in-depth knowledge and can take much longer to learn than Qigong. There are shorter forms of Tai Chi that can be learned much quicker. For many people it's a lifetime journey that integrates the mind and body.

The primary principles behind Tai Chi include generating internal energy, and control of movements. It also entails mindfulness, serenity, and loosening. A main purpose is to cultivate the Qi, or energy of life, within individuals.

The practice aims at creating total harmony between the inner and the outer self. This is achieved through the integration of the body and mind.

Inner Strength

There’s more to Tai Chi than one can see, so that it’s impossible to fully describe the art. Overall, Tai Chi is enjoyable, and aesthetically pleasing. It is essentially a combination of meditation and basic exercise for the whole body.

The movements of Tai Chi are designed to flow; creating inner strength, like water flowing through a smooth surface. The tranquility is believed to generate power for healing and wellness. With ongoing practice, people can feel internal energy while creating more of it.

Tai Chi becomes a lifestyle for many practitioners. When engaging in the art, a practitioner can get very tranquil.

Qigong vs Tai Chi

Now that you know what the two arts entail, what are their primary differences? Some say that the only difference is in the pronunciation, but let's delve into it more deeply than that.

1. Tai Chi is More Complex

While both practices entail physical movements, Tai Chi is generally more involved. It comprises a series of many moves, which can take months to learn and master. There are also shorter forms that can be learned much quicker.

On the other hand, Qigong can be a single movement repeated many times or a more complex series of movement. Sometimes, there’s no movement involved at all, but only breathing or meditation.

Generally Qigong is considered easier to learn the Tai Chi.

2. Tai Chi is More Focused on Form

Tai Chi calls for a lot of discipline. How you position your feet, knees, and spine is very crucial for the proper execution of the practice. Qigong is a free-form practice that’s also less rigid.

3. Qigong is Adaptive

Qigong can have just a few movements and hence is quite adaptable. It allows anyone in any condition to practice it, especially the breathing exercises. The simple moves involved are easy to match to any level of physical ability.

Tai Chi features many positions, moves, and stances. Some of them may be difficult to achieve. Athletes who have had severe injuries or participants with disabilities may be unable to cope with the movements.

4. Tai Chi is More of a Martial Art Than Qigong

Although they are both sometimes classified as martial arts, Qigong is more of a wellness system than a martial art. It’s a practice that’s deeply intertwined with the traditional way of life of the Chinese.

Tai Chi is more recent, further developed by Shaolin Monks and Chinese military leaders. The practice was often intended for combat and self-defense. They borrowed some methods from Qigong and interwove the elements of self-defense.

For its many components, Tai Chi is more of martial art while Qigong falls under wellness exercises.

There are over 170 types of martial arts including Tai Chi.

5. Qigong is an Institution in China

For its wellness and anti-aging features, Qigong is considered an element of daily living. It has gained popularity as part of the Chinese National Health plan. Its practice is embraced in schools, hospitals, and universities.

Tai Chi also produces health benefits. It makes an excellent choice for promoting strength, health, fitness, and good posture. Meanwhile it also increases mental focus.

Other Differences and Similarities

Generally Tai Chi forms, except the very simple ones, usually take much more time to learn than Qigong. Tai Chi involves an elaborate set of movements whereas Qigong is usually not quite as structured.

Qigong practitioners can achieve potent healing powers for themselves and also to help heal others.

Tai Chi is generally used for self healing.

The emphasis of both arts is in energy or Qi. Both practices use visualization, body movements, and breathing to guide the flow of Qi. Tai Chi puts more emphasis on the martial characteristics of the training. The movements in Tai Chi can be theoretically applicable for self-defense. Qigong movements exist mainly for health, body healing, and meditation.

Who is Qigong and Tai Chi For?

You might ask if you have to be in great shape to start the practices. The answer is that you need not be strong, flexible, or balanced to engage in the exercises. The overall goal of the arts is to make you more flexible, strong, and balanced.

The arts are applicable in almost all fitness levels. They also require no equipment and can be done from anywhere. It’s possible to start from any position, whether modified or adapted. Remember that they both work under the same principles, only that one is more involved than the other.

Take Away

Qigong and Tai Chi are practices that stem from the same roots. When trying to understand Qigong vs Tai Chi, it’s worth noting that they are based on similar concepts.

Qigong is thought to be a wellness practice, while Tai Chi is more for self-defense. Qigong practitioners focus on anti-aging effects. That's why the practice is more widely practiced in China than any other martial art.

Tai Chi comprises many movements. It lays more emphasis on physical movements and the flow of energy. But both arts can be practiced from any level of fitness and progressed to the desired level.

To achieve enhanced results in your practice, you can combine both arts. You’ll reap both physical and health benefits.

If you have any questions or you want to start receiving monthly healing, be sure to contact us.

Michael Mohoric specializes in Qigong global distant energy healing. He has thousands of positive testimonials how his work has helped heal many serious illnesses, pain, stress, anxiety, insomnia, and more. He discovered he was blessed with a gift of distant energy healing after recovering from a serious spinal cord injury. He is the former Secretary of the International Tibetan Qigong Assoc. He has over 1,000 endorsements on Linkedin, many from health care professionals. He also has over 233,000 Likes on Facebook with thousands of positive posts about how this work has transformed lives.