Introduction to Tai Chi

Introduction to Tai Chi

Tai Chi Is a Workout for the Brain and Body. The mental and physical benefits span cultures and generations. Here’s how to get started. NY Times.

Bibliometric Evaluation of Global Tai Chi Research from 1980-2020This study provides a summary of the global scientific outputs on Tai Chi research from 1980 to 2020. Link to PDF

Health Benefits of tai chi. CFP MFC -- The official journal of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Tai Chi: Best Exercise For Fall Prevention

3 Ways Tai Chi Trains the Brain.

Health Benefits of Tai Chi (MSNBC) video: 2:18.

magazine cover"Tai Chi" and "Tai Chi Chuan" are deprecated terms (see wade-giles) for the newer "Taiji" (pronounced "tie gee" where "gee" is pronounced as in "gee whiz") which is supported by the Chinese government (see pinyin). The term 'Tai Chi' is more familiar to most people since it's been in use longer, and is often used as a recognizable marketing term. Sometimes 'Tai Chi Chuan' is used to denote taiji practiced as a martial art (taijiquan) whereas 'Tai Chi' may just refer to Tai Chi done for health reasons. However, Tai Chi may also refer to taiji practiced as a martial art. So there is no hard and fast rule. The important thing to note is that the all terms are used pretty much interchangeably to refer to the same thing (mostly, the practice of taiji for health).

Some form of Tai Chi practice is highly recommended for everyone's exercise program, regardless of age, and it is becoming extremely popular with active adults and seniors. Tai Chi is a more complex moving form of Qigong that can be done as a martial art or for health. Today, most people practice Tai Chi for health maintenance and improvement or for mitigating the effects of chronic conditions such as arthritis and normal aging. Traditional forms of Tai Chi can take years to learn, but the health benefits of Tai Chi are much more easily accessible with simplified or shortened forms.

Live a Healthier Life with Tai Chi - a webpage filled with links to interesting articles on Tai Chi, including history, physical health, emotional wellbeing, and how to get started.

time magazine coverTime magazine has called Tai Chi "The Perfect Exercise". T'ai Chi Magazine (for Tai Chi practiced as a martial art) discusses the myriad health benefits of Tai Chi in its August 2006 issue. Newsweek's September 27, 2004 issue reports on the increasing use of Qigong in hospitals and cancer centers across the country. Lorenzo Cohen, head of integrative medicine at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, predicts that mind-body techniques will soon become as much a part of standard cancer care as chemotherapy or radiation.

Taiji and balance/fall prevention. Balance and fall prevention are among the most studied outcomes of taiji research, and most review papers conclude that there is significant evidence that taiji can improve balance and reduce the risk of falls. However, the potential maximum benefit of taiji practice remains significantly underestimated and misunderstood by researchers and the general public. The reason is curriculum: still today most researchers (and the general public) equate taiji practice with slow choreographed movement only. Taiji is much more than this.

This Ancient Martial Art Can Fight Disease, Calm The Mind And Slow Aging. Americans have no difficulty adopting ancient practices into their health regimens. Take yoga, the ancient mind-body practice and contemporary fitness craze (and $27 billion industry), which continues its prominence in the mainstream -- even after decades of increasing popularity. Many forms of meditation, likewise, have been touted for stress-relieving, health-promoting benefits by prominent leaders in business, media and the arts. And then there's tai chi.

American College of Physicians recommends nonpharmacolgic treatments for chronic low back pain that includes tai chi.

Tai Chi Is a Biological Treatment for Depression.

On the formation of taiji diagram from the perspective of twenty-four solar terms.

The Health Benefits of Tai Chi: Art and Science

Dr. Paul Lam, a practicing physician and Tai Chi master for more than 30 years, provides an overview of the ancient art of Tai Chi, and discusses the scientific evidence for its health benefits. University of California Television (UCTV).

The Different Forms of Tai Chi

There are two main types of Tai Chi (also spelled "T'ai Chi" or "Taiji" and also referred to as "Tai Chi Chuan" or "Taijiquan"): Lineage-based (traditional) and Simplified. The two types are not mutually exclusive because lineage-based Tai Chi masters are now creating shorter forms to make Tai Chi accessible to more people.

The first type of Tai Chi, is traditional, or "lineage-based", such as Chen style, Yang style, and Wu style. Traditional Tai Chi is learned from masters and is handed down as an oral tradition from generation to generation. Qigong also has some lineage forms, such as Wild Goose. Generally, a Tai Chi form done for martial arts and not health has the "Chuan" on the end of it. Otherwise, it's often just called Tai Chi (or the newer "Taiji" -- see an overview of Chinese character translation ), although the terms are often interchangeable. Note that Tai Chi magazine is called "T'ai Chi" magazine. Then in much smaller print below that, it's "The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan". "Tai Chi" is the "marketing" term that you see in the popular press because it's the most well-known.

The second main type of Tai Chi consists of simplified versions of Tai Chi. Some of the newer non-lineage Tai Chi forms are Tai Chi Easy™Beijing 24 FormTai Chi Chih, and Tai Chi for Arthritis. These shorter forms are based on the traditional forms, but are easier to learn, especially for older adults. They are often called "Simplified Tai Chi". This just means that these newer forms do not have as many movements in them as the longer and more complex lineage-based forms, but the fundamental principles of the two practices are identical because all Tai Chi rests on a foundation of Qigong.

The term "form" can be a little confusing: It can refer to either individual movements (e.g. hand movements, a foot movement, a combined hand and foot movement, or several combined hand/foot movements, turning at the waist, raising and lowering arms...) or as a set of movements (e.g. Chen style 48 Form) that might take ten or more minutes to perform once. People get excited by the popular media articles and want to "do Tai Chi". It looks cool and old people do it, so it must be good for you. They have no idea of what they are getting into when they sign up for their first Tai Chi class and don't know the difference between lineage and non-lineage forms. This distinction usually doesn't matter until the person has been practicing a while and wants to understand the practice at a deeper level.

Regardless of whether a form is lineage or non-lineage, it is derived from a number of individual movements and conforms to the fundamentals of Tai Chi, such as ground connection and knee alignment. Furthermore, the strength, flexibility, confidence, stress reduction, etc. benefits (proven via medical research - see the Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™ for specific research abstracts) are the same. The main difference is the amount of time it takes to learn the form and how the form is taught. It can take years to learn a traditional form as opposed to one session, a few weeks, or just a few months to learn enough Tai Chi to be beneficial from a health standpoint. This is especially noteworthy for seniors.

The benefits of Tai Chi are more readily available with the easier forms because people can learn them faster and are less willing to give up in the face of a long-term commitment to learning a full form. So for many people, doing a simpler form is the right answer for their health. For others, starting with the easier forms and moving to the lineage forms when comfortable is the best solution. Still others will immediately fall in love with doing the longer lineage forms. Note too, that some "easier" forms such as the new Beijing 24 Form are getting to be as long as some of the shorter traditional forms. Regardless of which type of Tai Chi you practice and enjoy, the health benefits are enormous and well documented.

The Beijing 24 Form is a non-lineage version of Tai Chi that has been standardized by the Chinese government and is taught in schools.

Watch a truly amazing demonstration of Tai Chi by thousands of people.

Simplified Tai Chi

Easy to learn and practice versions of Tai Chi are being created to meet the recommendations of the National Expert Meeting. These forms of Tai Chi can be done sitting, standing, or walking, and movements may be done individually or in combinations. For an example approach to simplified Tai Chi visit the Healer Within Foundation website and its Tai Chi Easy™ program. 

harvard med school guide to tai chi"When I began teaching students the simplified movements similar to those used in our clinical protocols...I saw quicker results and students kept coming to class. Among students who studied for only a few months and did not learn the formal Tai Chi choreography, I observed improved balance, strength, and greater sense of well-being." Dr. Peter Wayne. The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi.

Simplified Tai Chi more effective in improving the physical function in older adults when compared to the traditional Tai Chi modality, particularly for improving balance.

Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™

Interoception or Proprioception

Interoception and Proprioception 

Meditation in Qigong practice consists of quieting the mind through mindfulness, thus enabling an enhanced interoception, proprioception, vestibular system, awareness of present moment experience, and emotional regulation.

Interoception, a key component of Qigong practice, is a representation of the body's internal state and bodily signals based on proprioception, the senses, and biofeedback pathways which include bi-directional communication between the limbic system (thoughts and emotions), the frontal cortex, the neuroendocrine system, and the autonomic nervous system. Interoception is essential for physiological homeostasis, cognition, and emotional regulation. Interoceptive awareness is a pre-requisite for emotional regulation.

Proprioception is the body's ability to sense movement, including alignment (posture, orientation, and balance); it includes awareness of your body position in space as well as the relationship between muscles and structure. Mechanoreceptors, more precisely proprioceptors, are located in tendons, muscles, ligaments and joint capsules. Proprioception can be defined as the cumulative neural input to the central nervous system from mechanoreceptors. Tai Chi is fundamentally a proprioceptive practice.

MORE: Interoception and Proprioception.

Tai Chi for Seniors

Cost-effectiveness of a therapeutic Tai Ji Quan fall prevention intervention for older adults at high risk of falling. Among community-dwelling older adults at high risk for falls, Tai Chi is a more cost-effective means of reducing falls compared to conventional exercise approaches.


Nonagenarians Find Tai Chi Relaxing Way to Stay Fit.

nonagenarians doing tai chi

Wall Street Journal: Tai Chi helps cancer patients get into flow of healing

adults doing tai chi in classroom

Studies show tai chi has physical benefits for cancer patients, including improving balance and stamina, and through those deep, cleansing breaths. More.

The practice of Tai Chi; and why it's sweeping senior homes

seniors practicing tai chi

Tai chi is a workout that incorporates breathing and movement; and seniors say it's helping them with balance at home. More.

Balance and Functional Outcomes for Older Community-Dwelling Adults Who Practice Tai Chi and Those Who Do Not: A Comparative Study.

PubMed logoTai Chi participants improved in nearly all measures, whereas controls did not. Older adults' participation in a community-based Tai Chi program leads to improvement in strength, mobility, and confidence in performing functional tasks.


"Tai chi’s approach of using conscious slow movements is a radical departure from the typical Western approach to fitness, which often focuses on repetitive movements and physical exertion, such as in fitness regimens like running, biking or weight lifting. Further, “success” in the many western sports and athletics is often determined by speed, distance, strength or when competing who “wins”. Tai chi has a completely different set of markers and guideposts for success such as consciousness within body, proper body alignments and developing the smooth flow of energy. It is about generating peace within your entire being." Bruce Frantzis.

Tai Chi Demonstration

Tai Chi Easy 5 Form with Dr. Roger Jahnke, founder of the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi and Tai Chi Easy™.

New book rewrites the origins of Tai Chi

Preview: Tai Chi - The True History & Principles.

Tai Chi History & Principles book cover

Tai Chi - The True History & Principles

The Hip Joint and Tai Chi

hip joint picture

The purpose of this short article is to describe the normal hip joint (socket), how gravity stress affects it, and how the correct and regular practice of tai chi heals and prevents arthritis of this joint. More.

Tai Chi at Adult Day Care

Seniors find their zen with tai chi classes

Seniors at Alice's Place Adult Day Care are meditating on new ways to stay active. Read article and watch video.

China launches new integrated tai chi platform

crowd standing on stairs with banner

A new tai chi platform launched in Beijing on March 31 in an effort to promote tai chi, as well as people's health.

The sports section of the People's Daily initiated the People's Tai Chi platform which aims to popularize tai chi health practice and philosophy, while promoting the martial art and boosting the culture

At the launching ceremony, Zhu Kai, director of the sports department at People's Daily and the president of the People's Sports, said the platform will integrate sports and medical care; develop sports prescriptions for occupational, chronic and common diseases; promote care of the elderly; and spread traditional culture.

"By promoting tai chi's development, we can promote the integration of tai chi boxing and culture into our lives and help build a healthy China," he said.

A plan to advocate the development of sports programs – known as Healthy China 2030 – was approved by China's central government in 2016, in a bid to prevent disease and encourage people to adopt healthy lifestyles. The plan also includes measures to promote traditional ethnic and folk sports including tai chi. More

Hung Gar Tiger Crane by 90 year old master

90 year old doing kung fu

This is a famous form from the Hung Gar style, called 'Tiger and Crane Pair Form' (Fu Hok Seung Ying 虎鶴雙形). It is performed by sifu Yeung Dakyau sifu 杨德友師傅 (90 years old at the time when the video was shot), a Nanjing 南京 practitioner of Naam Siulam Tingong Mun 南少林天罡門 and a TCM physician. He has started the training at the age of 6; currently he should be in his late 90s these days. 

The forgotten history of two trailblazing women who spread Tai Chi around the world

women doing tai chi

Both Gerda Geddes and Sophia Delza encountered Tai Chi in China by chance during the 1940s. Then, they introduced it to the West. More.

"What makes tai chi a good exercise to prevent falls? And why isn't walking a good alternative?

two people with walkers

Walking is kind of just keeping you in one plane moving forward, and it's not doing any kind of postural training. What tai chi does is it gives you an increased area of postural stability, [which is] kind of your being able to remain upright in space. When you do tai chi, you do stepping moves to the front, to the side; you move your arms out, you reach, you bend. And basically that increases the size of your postural stability so that you can catch yourself and not have the fall. You can be a little bit off kilter and right yourself." Simple Ways to Prevent Falls in Older Adults. NPR.ORG.

Organizations that Recommend Tai Chi

World Health Organization (WHO) - The WHO recognizes Tai Chi as a beneficial exercise for improving balance, flexibility, and overall well-being.

American Heart Association (AHA) - The AHA recommends Tai Chi as a gentle exercise option that can help reduce stress, improve cardiovascular health, and increase flexibility.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) - The NCCIH, a part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, acknowledges Tai Chi as an alternative therapy that promotes relaxation, improves balance, and reduces stress.

Arthritis Foundation - The Arthritis Foundation endorses Tai Chi as a low-impact exercise that can help manage pain, improve joint function, and enhance overall quality of life for individuals with arthritis.

National Council on Aging (NCOA) - The NCOA includes Tai Chi in its evidence-based falls prevention programs, recognizing its benefits in improving balance, reducing falls, and increasing mobility among older adults.

Mayo Clinic - The Mayo Clinic advocates Tai Chi as a mind-body practice that enhances mental clarity, promotes relaxation, improves balance, and helps manage stress.

Harvard Medical School - Harvard Medical School highlights the numerous health benefits of Tai Chi, such as reducing chronic pain, improving sleep quality, and enhancing physical and mental well-being. The health benefits of tai chi.

American Cancer Society (ACS) - The ACS recommends Tai Chi as a complementary therapy for cancer patients, citing its potential to alleviate fatigue, improve sleep, reduce stress, and enhance quality of life during and after treatment.

National Parkinson Foundation - The National Parkinson Foundation recognizes Tai Chi as a valuable exercise option for individuals with Parkinson's disease, as it can help improve balance, flexibility, and overall motor control.

American Psychological Association (APA) - The APA acknowledges Tai Chi as an effective practice for reducing anxiety, enhancing mood, and improving overall psychological well-being.

Eugene researchers find modified Tai chi can prevent falls

adults doing tai chi

Peter Harmer and Fuzhong Li have been studying a modified version of the Chinese martial art Tai chi ch’uan at Oregon Research Institute for more than 20 years.

Their latest work recently was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association’s Network Open Geriatrics. It shows that Li’s exercise program, called Tai ji quan: Moving for Better Balance, can reduced injury producing falls in adults over the age of 70 who had fallen in the last year by nearly 53 percent compared to other forms of exercise, such as stretching, balance training or weightlifting. More.

Study Shows Tai Chi and Dance Benefit the Brain in Older Adults

group doing tai chi

Exercises that engage the mind and body improve memory and other measures of cognitive function.

The Meaning and Origins of Tai Chi


Dr. Roger Jahnke, OMD and Founder of The Institute of Integral Qigong & Tai Chi explains the meaning and origins of Tai Chi, Qigong, and Kung Fu.

An Introduction to Tai Chi

A Journey into Tai Chi: An Ancient Martial Art unfolding into modern day "Medicine in Motion"

Stanford Health Care Pain Medicine

Pain Management Center Tai Chi Resources. .PDF.

Stanford Pain Medicine Tai Chi for Rehabilitation videos.  youtube logo YouTube.

A Call to Use the Multicomponent Exercise Tai Chi to Improve Recovery From COVID-19 and Long COVID

"Tai Chi is a multicomponent rehabilitation approach comprising correct breathing technique, balance and neuromuscular training as well as stress- and emotional management. In addition, practicing Tai Chi elicits the relaxation response and balances the autonomic nervous system thus regulating respiration, heart rate, blood pressure and vitality in general. Moreover, Tai Chi has been shown to increase lung capacity, improve cognitive status and mental health, and thereby even the quality of life in diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Hence, we advocate Tai Chi as potent and suitable rehabilitation tool for post-COVID-19-affected individuals." PMCID: PMC8918505.

Tai Chi for Rehabilitation Video | Dr Paul Lam | Free Lessons and Introduction

Dr. Paul Lam is sharing the entire Tai Chi for Rehabilitation program free to help people improve immunity and relieve stress. The world has changed now with COVID-19. The present measure of social distancing and self-separation aims to slow down the spread of this virus. But experts are saying it will still spread. At this time, it is very important to proactively build our inner strength so that you have a better chance to be healthy and improve your immunity. The immune system is like an army within our bodies that fights against germs and cancer cells quietly every day to keep us safe and well. COVID-19 affects people with lower immunity much more severely. Tai chi has been proven by medical studies to improve immunity. Here is something you can do now to be healthier for the future, as well as learning something new and enjoyable. And same for your friends too. 

Selected Tai Chi Research and Benefits

An RCT META analysis based on the effect of tai chi exercise therapy on the outcome of elderly patients with moderate-to-severe sleep disorders-A systematic review study. This study provides a practical approach to reducing the risk of medication side effects in older adults with sleep disorders and offers a potentially effective non-pharmacological treatment option, especially for those who are unable or unwilling to use medication. Tai chi exercise may not only improve sleep, but also improve coordination, muscle strength, balance, and reduce stress and anxiety in older adults. It also helps older adults socialize and enhances their social connections and emotional support. This study suggests that community centers or activity centers for the elderly can organize tai chi classes to promote the participation of older adults, and can be used as a scientific exercise rehabilitation tool in clinical treatment, incorporating tai chi practice into daily life, such as tai chi practice at a fixed time every day or every week, which not only helps to improve the sleep disorders of older adults, but also improves their overall quality of life. PMCID: PMC10826669

American College of Physicians recommends Tai Chi for lower back pain. 

Tai Chi for Chronic Illness Management: Synthesizing Current Evidence from Meta-Analyses of Randomized Controlled Trials. Tai Chi improves physical function, disease-specific outcomes and cardiorespiratory fitness compared with active controls among adults with diverse chronic illnesses. [PMID 32946848]

Evidence on physical activity and falls prevention for people aged 65+ years: systematic review to inform the WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. This study found that effective exercise programs should be implemented at scale. Tai Chi was one of the most effective exercise programs for reducing rate of falls. The highest rate of benefit was "from programs involving multiple types of exercise (commonly balance and functional exercises plus resistance exercises). Note that the American College of Sports Medicine recommends Qigong and Tai Chi because they are multifaceted physical activities which involve varying combinations of neuromotor exercise (sometimes called functional fitness training, which incorporates motor skills such as balance, coordination, gait, and agility, and proprioceptive training), resistance exercise, and flexibility exercise. This research presents a very strong argument for practicing Qigong and Tai Chi to reduce rate of falls in older adults. [PMCID: PMC7689963]

The effect of Tai Chi exercise on postural time-to-contact in manual fitting task among older adults. The authors identify postural stability as the main reason for long-term Tai Chi exercise’s ability to lower the risk of falling among healthy older adults. [PMID 32896796].

How to mitigate coronavirus stress with mind-body training like Tai Chi.

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Tai Chi for Neurological Conditions: The Research Evidence-Base. "Tai Ji Quan is a viable antihypertensive lifestyle therapy that produces clinically meaningful blood pressure (BP) reductions among individuals with hypertension. Such magnitude of BP reductions can lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease by up to 40%."

Tai Ji Quan as Antihypertensive Lifestyle Therapy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

pubmed logogBiomechanical mechanism of Tai-Chi gait for preventing falls: A pilot study. The results indicate that Tai Chi gait challenges body balance and requires more muscle strength of the lower limb joints compared to regular walking gait. To cope with these challenges, the body develops neuromuscular control strategies to maintain body balance and thus reduce the risk of falls. Neuromotor exercise training is beneficial as part of a comprehensive exercise program for older persons, especially to improve balance, agility, muscle strength, and reduce the risk of falls. Note that every ten years the American College of Sports Medicine updates their Position Stand: 'Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise.' In 2008, the ACSM started recommending Tai Chi and Qigong in their Position Stand for neuromotor fitness. ACSM: "Neuromotor exercise training, sometimes called functional fitness training, incorporates motor skills such as balance, coordination, gait, and agility, and proprioceptive training. Multifaceted physical activities such as tai ji (tai chi), qigong, and yoga involve varying combinations of neuromotor exercise, resistance exercise, and flexibility exercise. Neuromotor exercise training is beneficial as part of a comprehensive exercise program for older persons, especially to improve balance, agility, muscle strength, and reduce the risk of falls."  

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Effectiveness of Tai Chi for Health Promotion for Adults With Health Conditions: A Scoping Review of Meta-analyses. "Tai Chi is a form of safe, enjoyable, light-to-moderate aerobic physical activity for adults that is inexpensive to implement in diverse community settings. Adults with health conditions require physical activity for prevention of secondary impairments and over-all health promotion.This scoping review of meta-analyses elucidates "high" and "moderate" quality evidence of the effectiveness of Tai Chi in improving important outcomes for people with numerous health conditions.This information can be useful for healthcare providers who wish to recommend effective community-based physical activity to clients they are serving."

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2019 American College of Rheumatology/Arthritis Foundation Guideline for the Management of Osteoarthritis of the Hand, Hip, and Knee. American College of Rheumatology and the Arthritis Foundation strongly recommend Tai Chi. This is the first update of the treatment guidelines since 2012.

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Qigong and Tai Chi as Therapeutic Exercise: Survey of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Addressing Physical Health ConditionsThe review showed independent research evidence that was sufficient to support tai chi performed as qigong as a primary intervention for balance training and fall prevention. When compared with more traditional interventions, tai chi was found to have equal, and in some instances, superior effects, as well as cost-effectiveness. In addition, qigong, and tai chi performed as qigong, were found to have a complementary or alternative role in management of cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson's disease, and cardiac and cardiovascular disorders.

ACR, Arthritis Foundation guidelines favor nondrug therapy over TENS, stem cells for OA. ATLANTA — Health care providers should avoid prescribing transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation or stem cell injections in favor of more comprehensive management — including nonpharmacological interventions such as tai chi — for hip, knee and hand osteoarthritis, according to draft guidelines presented at ACR/ARP 2019.

pubmed logogAn evidence map of the effect of Tai Chi on health outcomes. The evidence map is based on a systematic review of systematic reviews. We searched 11 electronic databases from inception to February 2014, screened reviews of reviews, and consulted with topic experts. We used a bubble plot to graphically display clinical topics, literature size, number of reviews, and a broad estimate of effectiveness.

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Tai Chi for Chronic Pain Conditions: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Conclusion: Clinicians may consider Tai Chi as a viable complementary and alternative medicine for chronic pain conditions.

No Pain Lots of Gain. Tai Chi and Qigong for chronic pain. The medical school textbook The Essentials of Pain Medicine 4th Edition includes an entire chapter (61) on the use of taiji for treating chronic pain conditions. This text concludes that not only is taiji a safe and effective approach to achieving a wide range of physical and psychological benefits, high- quality evidence supports the use of taiji for treating osteoarthritis, lower back pain and fibromyalgia. As promising as these findings are, it is important to remember that taiji coaches without medical credentials should not offer treatment or make treatment claims to individuals with specific conditions. Coaches can train individuals in taiji practice and educate them about findings in the literature, but it is important to leave prescriptions to health-care providers. Still, it is a great feeling being able to share in our students’ joy when they find relief from symptoms through their taiji practice!

World Taiji Science Federation Journal. JTS Journal of Taiji Science.

How Tai Chi Targets Fascia and Connective Tissues

"Developing whole body fascial lines versus isolating muscle alone:  By developing the fascia you work everything in the body that the fascia encompasses, including the muscles.  Exercising in this way, we do not create stress and tension while in movement like a person does when they only engage muscle groups.  There’s NO contracting, No impacting, and No stress — because in Tai Chi we do not hold a stretch, rather we “fang song,” we it let go.  Tai Chi is the art of letting go, and the result is soft, springy elastic power, like we experienced in our youth in abundance. 

man holding long pole among small trees

These gentle fascia stretches are not at all like a yoga stretch that you are instructed to hold.  We are working to open, hydrate, and lubricate the joints, ligaments, and vertebrae by gently stretching and making more elastic the veins, arteries, nerve tissues, and other connective tissues." More....

There have been some excellent publications on the health benefits of Tai Chi in the medical/research press, such as in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Some of the well researched benefits of Tai Chi include increased postural control and balance, flexibility, strength, confidence in mobility and coordination, sensitivity and awareness, quality of sleep, and reduction in stress. Dr. Yang Yang at University of Illinois Kinesiology Department has published a very compelling book on the medical benefits of Tai Chi. Tai Chi has been shown to increase balance control with resulting self-confidence and reduction in falls, especially among the elderly. Studies show it is effective for arthritis and pain, osteoporosis, strength and flexibility. Cardiovascular functioning is also improved. Research has found Tai Chi to be equivalent to moderate aerobic exercise. Tai Chi reduces cholesterol and blood pressure, and increases the capacity of the immune system. The American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation reported a study showing that Tai Chi is safe for rheumatoid arthritis patients. Harvard Medical School is an especially strong advocate of Tai Chi and Qigong.

Tai Chi Improves Brain Metabolism and Muscle Energetics in Older Adults.

Tai Chi Is a Promising Exercise Option for Patients With Coronary Heart Disease Declining Cardiac Rehabilitation. Journal of the American Heart Association.

Tai Chi holds promise as cardiac rehab exercise. Journal of the American Heart Association Report. The slow and gentle movements of Tai Chi hold promise as an alternative exercise option for patients who decline traditional cardiac rehabilitation, according to preliminary research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Tai Chi Practice Changes Fractional Amplitude of Low Frequency Fluctuations in Intrinsic Control Networks. Tai Chi practice enhances the brain's cognitive control capacity. Cognitive control impairment is a typical symptom largely reported in populations with neurological disorders. Based on the evidence from neuroimaging, a wide variety of mental disorders involve impaired cognitive control abilities and altered function in control system. Effective control systems protect against a variety of mental diseases. The authors conclude that Tai Chi practice enhances the brain's cognitive control capacity.

Yang G-Y, Wang L-Q, Ren J, et al. (2015) Evidence Base of Clinical Studies on Tai Chi: A Bibliometric Analysis. Scherer RW, ed. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(3):e0120655. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0120655. Free PMC Article

Abstract: A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi. PubMed.

Article: A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi. PubMed.

CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tai Chi Research and Therapy

Selected Tai Chi Research in 2012 (.PDF).

Current Tai Chi Research. Whether you want to improve your balance, increase your flexibility, relieve pain, recover from injuries or diminish the effects of daily stress, the practice of Tai Chi is suitable for both men and women and for people of all ages, even those in their eighties and nineties.

World Tai Chi and Qigong Day website - Medical Research on Tai Chi & Qigong. This page has an easy to use alphabetically-ordered drop-down menu of health issues. Each issue has a synopsis on how it is affected through Tai Chi and Qigong practice.

The National Institutes of Health background information on Tai Chi includes links for research, images and video, and ongoing medical studies.

Tai Chi found to be as effective as physical therapy for knee osteoarthritis.

Reducing the fear of falling among community-dwelling elderly adults through cognitive-behavioural strategies and intense Tai Chi exercise: a randomized controlled trial.

Tai Chi Exercise May Reduce Falls in Adult Stroke Survivors. An American Heart Association report on research presented to the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2013 stated that Tai Chi was more effective in fall prevention for stroke survivors than a control group using only the U.S. Medicare covered SilverSneakers Program. THIS IS A HUGE FINDING. It is becoming increasingly apparent that Tai Chi and Qigong could save national healthcare systems hundreds of billions, if not trillions in avoided future health expenditures.

For information on current U.S. Department of Health and Human Services clinical trials research, go to and search for 'Qigong', 'Tai Chi', 'Acupuncture', etc.

pubmedPsychological effects of Tai Chi Chuan. This article reviews the scientific studies which have been carried out at the international level on the psychological benefits that Tai Chi Chuan brings to those who practice it. All of the larger more inclusive [research] summaries confirmed the potential for Taiji to produce significant improvements in emotional wellbeing with regard to depression and other mood disorders, as well as stress, anxiety, and fear of falling. These studies also found that Taiji supported a general sense of well-being and self-efficacy, the feeling that one is capable of facing what lies ahead in life. 

Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Powertaijiquan

Dr. Yang Yang founded The Center for Taiji Studies in 1996 and created the Evidence-Based Traditional Taiji (EBT™) Program. The term "Evidence-Based" indicates that the curriculum has been proven effective in Randomized Controlled Trials - the gold standard of scientific design. It is a key term for acceptance as an intervention by the medical community. 

Selected Research on the benefits of Tai Chi - A Martial Art and moving form of Qigong From: Taijiquan - The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power. Yang Yang. Zhenwu Publications. Champaign, Illinois. 2005. Contact:

Tai Chi in the Clinic

There is both a wealth of information and a large number of randomized controlled trials that have proven the benefits of Tai Chi as a treatment for a number of conditions. This page lists some of the benefits. More information can be found on the Harvard Medical School Endorses Qigong and Tai Chi page and in the Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™ (search: Tai Chi).

Achy knees? Tai chi may work as well as — or better than — physical therapy (Washington Post)For patients with painful knee osteoarthritis, tai chi was as helpful as physical therapy in reducing pain and improving physical functioning, according to a new study partially funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The results of the study, conducted at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, were published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Study Shows Tai Chi and Physical Therapy Were Equally Helpful for Knee Osteoarthritis (NCCIH).

Mechanism of Pain Relief through Tai Chi and Qigong. The purpose of this paper is to outline the academic and medical evidence for Tai Chi and Qigong impact on pain, and describe the hypothesized mechanism that enables Tai chi and Qigong to work so well at relieving pain - often better than opioid pain medication, and with fewer side effects. This paper also describes a paradigm for research which will increase the likelihood that researchers doing projects in this field can synergize their efforts and start building a foundational body of knowledge rather than continue to do independent and disconnected studies on the phenomenon that enables Tai Chi and Qigong to work.

Tai Chi for Parkinson's Disease

Tai Chi for Patients with Parkinson’s Disease. logoRandomized controlled trial finds Tai Chi improves the balance and decreases the fall risks in patients with Parkinson's disease.

New England Journal of Medicine article on Tai Chi for Parkinson's chosen Top 10 story of 2012 by Journal Watch Neurology. Willamette University exercise science professor Peter Harmer’s publication in The New England Journal of Medicine is a Top 10 story of 2012 by Journal Watch Neurology. Harmer’s study, "Tai Chi and postural stability in patients with Parkinson's disease," was also recognized by the American Academy of Neurology as the most important advance in movement disorders research for 2012.

Tai Chi for Multiple Sclerosis

Gary Paruszkiewicz interview

Tai Chi relieves symptoms of Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia

Tai Chi relieves arthritis pain, improves reach, balance, well-being. Researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine have found that patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia felt better and moved more easily after taking twice-weekly classes in Tai Chi. Practicing Tai Chi "reduced pain, stiffness and fatigue, and improved their balance."

Tufts Medical Center review finds Tai Chi improves symptoms associated with fibromyalgia in the short-term.

Evidence for determining the exercise prescription in patients with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic joint disease that affects more than one-third of older adults (age > 65 years), most often involving the hip and knee. Osteoarthritis causes pain and limits mobility, thereby reducing patient quality of life. Conservative, nonsurgical, nonpharmacologic treatment strategies includeweight reduction, orthotics, physical therapy modalities, acupuncture, massage, and exercise. The breadth of the current literature on OA can make determining the appropriate exercise prescription challenging. Aerobic exercise, strengthening exercise, Tai chi, and aquatic exercise can all alleviate pain and improve function in patients with OA.

pubmedSitting Tai Chi Improves the Balance Control and Muscle Strength of Community-Dwelling Persons with Spinal Cord Injuries: A Pilot Study.

Tai Chi Chuan Exercise for Patients with Cardiovascular Disease. Exercise training is the cornerstone of rehabilitation for patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Although high-intensity exercise has significant cardiovascular benefits, light-to-moderate intensity aerobic exercise also offers health benefits. With lower-intensity workouts, patients may be able to exercise for longer periods of time and increase the acceptance of exercise, particularly in unfit and elderly patients. Tai Chi Chuan (Tai Chi) is a traditional Chinese mind-body exercise. The exercise intensity of Tai Chi is light to moderate, depending on its training style, posture, and duration. Previous research has shown that Tai Chi enhances aerobic capacity, muscular strength, balance, and psychological well-being. Additionally, Tai Chi training has significant benefits for common cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, poor exercise capacity, endothelial dysfunction, and depression. Tai Chi is safe and effective in patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery, congestive heart failure (HF), and stroke. In conclusion, Tai Chi has significant benefits to patients with cardiovascular disease, and it may be prescribed as an alternative exercise program for selected patients with CVD.

Tai Chi more effective than yoga? After years of being exalted as an exotic form of martial arts, Tai Chi is now seen by the medical world as an answer to most physical grievances. Week after week, researchers are bringing to light the many healing benefits of this form, which includes it being beneficial to people suffering from osteoarthritis, diabetes, and musculoskeletial pain triggered from working on computers. It is also being looked upon as an alternative option to yoga.

Tai Chi for the Homeless

International Tai Chi Chuan Symposium

Tai Chi Symposium logoInternational Tai Chi Chuan Symposium: Interview with Dr. Roger Jahnke (Audio: 1hr 5min) on his impressions of the 1st International Tai Chi Chuan Symposium on Health, Education, and Cultural Exchange held outside of China. Grandmasters of the five traditional Tai Chi Chuan styles — Chen (Chen Zhenglei), Yang (Yang Zhenduo), Wu/Hao (Wu Wenhan), Wu (Ma Hailong), Sun (Sun Yongtian), — taught daily workshops on their styles. Topics covered during the symposium included biomechanics, kinesthetics, meditation, physical and mental health benefits, therapeutic value, the nature of chi and more. Presenters were from institutions around the world, including Harvard Medical School, Center for Cognitive Therapy, University of Missouri, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, University of Illinois, University of California, Beijing Sports University (China) and the Mayo Clinic. Having studied and practiced Qigong and Tai Chi for over thirty years, Dr. Jahnke has a unique perspective on the field. He talks about the traditions and development of Tai Chi and Qigong through the millennia; integral Qigong, which modifies Tai Chi for practical applications based on principles; how to live well for as long as possible; the current state of Qigong /Tai Chi science and research; and the impact of the adoption of new, short Tai Chi forms upon traditional Tai Chi practice.

Dr. Jahnke felt this is "one of the most profound experiences I have ever had in my professional life, given the fact that my profession is Qigong." He is a co-founder of the National Qigong Association, a licensed Oriental Medical doctor, author of several texts on Qigong and self-healing practices, Director of the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi, and an international lecturer. For more information on seminars and training offered by Dr. Jahnke, visit his websites,,, and His trainings will be of special interest to those who would like to change careers to be a part of the health care revolution, such as yoga teachers who want to be certified in Qigong and Tai Chi.

The International Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Association published a Free online Tai Chi Journal -Tai Chi Chuan Masters and Methods PDF 17.02MB). This is the first time that the Association has published a digital edition. One of the Association's main contributions to Tai Chi is the sponsorship of the International Tai Chi Chuan Symposiums, attended by the world's foremost authorities on the five traditional Chinese family schools of Tai Chi. The Journal provides information on the Association, a preview of the 2nd International Symposium, as well as articles by the experts on the art and practice of Tai Chi.

2014 International Tai Chi Symposium was a success.

Silk-Reeling (Spiral Energy) Exercises

Silk Reeling exercises are a set of repetitive movements practiced mainly from a standing position. The movements have a spiraling character, with their corkscrew motion centered in the lower abdomen or lower dantian. Silk Reeling practice seeks to integrate physical strengthening, body awareness and coordination, the grounding of energy, abdominal breathing, and relaxation. The Silk Reeling exercises serve as a vehicle for meditative mindfulness and for the development of internal energy and power. Spiral movements are a fundamental component and outcome of the practice of all forms (Chen, Sun, Yang, Simplified, ...) of Tai Chi.

For Silk Reeling DVDs see the Qigong Institute Store.

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Is There a Preferred Mode of Exercise for Cognition Enhancement in Older Age? - A Narrative Review

Selected studies examining the effect of various modes of exercise on cognition contend that both training categories (i.e. physical training-aerobic and strength, and motor training-balance, coordination, and flexibility) affect neuroplasticity, and consequently cognitive functioning. However, there are two main differences between them: (1) Physical training affects cognition via improvement in cardiovascular fitness, whereas motor training (e.g. via Tai Chi) affects cognition directly; (2) Physical training affects neuroplasticity and cognition in a global manner, while motor training is task-specific in increasing brain neuroplasticity and in affecting cognition. Examining the underpinnings of these pathways reveals that there is a difference in the underlying forces behind the two training categories. In the physical training category, it is the intensity of training that enhances neuroplasticity and consequently improves cognition, while in the motor activities it is the task complexity that increases neuroplasticity, which improves cognition. Dual-task training, which includes cognitive demands in addition to physical or motor activity, has proven more effective in improving cognitive functioning than a single task. The implications are that if all training components traditionally recommended by official bodies-physical as well as motor training-are efficient in enhancing cognition, then we merely have to emphasize the inclusion of all exercise modes in our routine exercise regimen for physical as well as cognitive health in advanced age. Read entire article.

This article includes some great Tai Chi references.

Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™ 

Tai Chi or Taiji

Long-term Tai Chi practice in older adults is associated with "younger" functional abilities

Age-related alterations in physiology lead to declines in physical function that are associated with numerous adverse outcomes among older adults. For most functional tests, TC-experts performed better than age-matched TC-naïve controls and were statistically indistinguishable from young healthy adult controls. Long-term TC training was associated with higher levels of physical function in older adults, suggesting a potential preventative healthy aging effect. The impact of short-term training in healthy adults is less clear. PMCID: PMC10776109

Tai Chi is Exercise: Metabolism and Fitness Effects

silhouette at sunset by beach

Tai Chi has been studied scientifically as a fitness and health exercise for over forty years and has been shown to be a safe low-impact, mind-body exercise that gives you a training effect over time (You, Y, 2021).  However, unlike traditional cardiovascular and resistance training, the training effects of Tai Chi come about in a way that involves the body in a unique way: Doing Tai Chi involves using your whole nervous system (brain and spinal cord, nerves), which makes Tai Chi a neuromotor exercise. More.

It’s Never Too Late (Or Early) to Try Tai Chi. Here’s How.

people doing tai chi in park

The gentle art is perfect for lifelong fitness. Read Article.

Why Every Aging Adult Should Learn the Discipline of Tai Chi

seniors doing tai chi

There exists meaningful evidence that the discipline of Tai Chi may reduce the risk of falling in older adults.

Read article.

people doing tai chi on the beach

Achieving balance, confidence and self-defense through the ancient practice of tai chi.

Health Benefits of Tai Chi Exercise: A Guide for Nurses. "There is increasing scientific evidence showing the impact of tai chi exercise on multifaceted areas of health and well-being, including positive effects on cognition, depression, anxiety, sleep, cardiovascular health, and fall prevention. A review of the health benefits of tai chi exercise is presented, as well as recommendations for nurses seeking to answer patient questions about tai chi." [PMID 33131634].

Mayo Clinic Recommends
Tai Chi

mayo clinic tai chi

Mayo Clinic Says 2.5 Million Americans Now Use Tai Chi to Improve Health. According to the Mayo Clinic more than 2.5 million Americans are practicing tai chi to reduce stress and anxiety, increase energy, stamina and flexibility, muscle strength and definition and balance. There is also evidence that Tai Chi improves immune response, sleeping patterns, lowers cholesterol levels, relieves joint pain and, in older adults, reduces the risk of falls.

Dr. Yang Yang Teaches the Benefits of Tai Chi at the Mayo Clinic


National Expert Meeting on
Qi Gong and Tai Chi

National Expert Meeting  on Qi Gong and Tai Chi Consensus Report In 2001, a coalition of organizations released a national planning document in the area of aging and physical activity. The National Blueprint: Increasing Physical Activity Among Adults Aged 50 and Older was developed to serve as a guide for multiple organizations, associations and agencies, to inform and support their planning work related to increasing physical activity among America's aging population.

To this end, the Blueprint partnership organizations held the National Expert Meeting on Qigong and Tai Chi at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on November 14-16, 2005. The National Blueprint Office at the University of Illinois, in conjunction with the National Council on Aging (NCOA), received funding from the Archstone Foundation to explore the opportunities, issues, and challenges of integrating Qigong and Tai Chi into the Aging Network. National and international experts came from three areas: physical activity and the Aging Network; Qigong/Tai Chi research; and Qigong/Tai Chi practice. The goal was to investigate the challenges of translating existing research models into effective community-based programs for the health benefits of older adults, and to make recommendations in the form of a consensus report.

The meeting was a milestone in the long-term vision to make Qigong and Tai Chi as popular among older Americans as Yoga has become in community fitness centers and exercise programs today. Key outcomes of the meeting were the findings that in order to make the health benefits of Tai Chi more readily accessible to the population, shortened and simplified versions of it need to be created; identification of a set of fundamental practices common to both Qigong and Tai Chi; and declaring that Tai Chi practiced for health and Qigong are equivalent. This equivalence was introduced to clinical research with the definition of a new category of exercise called Meditative Movement.


National Expert Meeting on Qi Gong and Tai Chi Summary 


Taiji (Tai Chi) For Fall Prevention in the Elderly: Training the Trainers Evaluation Project. A large barrier to dissemination of Qigong and Tai Chi to larger populations, especially older adults through programs such as fall prevention, is the lack of qualified teachers. One of the main conclusions in the 2005 National Expert Meeting on Qi Gong and Tai Chi consensus report was that "The experts were willing to concede that a short, high intensity weekend course (14 to 16 hours) with a clearly defined internship or practicum may substitute for longer formal training activities for individuals with prior knowledge in exercise/health and well-developed teaching skills." This research confirmed that brief, intensive weekend training can increase the available workforce to train the elderly in fundamentals of Taiji for fall prevention [PMID: 28342686].

head shot of woman doing Tai ChiQi Gong and Tai Chi: promoting practices that promote healthy aging (.PDF). Summary of the recommendations and outcomes of the National Expert Meeting.

Dean Wojtek Chodzko Zajko's speech at First International Taiji Science Forum

Dean of the Graduate College at the University of Illinois. He served on the World Health Organization committee that developed the WHO Guidelines for Physical Activity among Older Persons. He currently serves as chair of the Executive Committee of the AAU Association of Graduate Schools and is chair of the ETS Graduate Education Advisory Council. 

The forum was sponsored by the Taiji Science Federation and co-sponsored by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Hangzhou Normal University and World Taijiquan Website with the participation of University of five branches, the American Association of Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture, US Collegiate Taiji Federation, and Silicon Valley University in California.

This event facilitated the exchange of ideas and experiences between the most respected international scientific experts and the masters and lineage holders of tai ji, bringing together state-of-the art research and traditional culture and creating strong interdisciplinary alliances among the speakers and attendees.

World Tai Chi and Qigong Day

Last Saturday in April (every year).

World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day was started in the late 1990's by Bill Douglas, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & QiGong Illustrated, Fourth Edition, and his wife Angela Wong as a way to introduce people to the profound healing and health maintenance benefits of Tai Chi (a moving form of Qigong) and Qigong.  The event has grown into a worldwide phenomena, practiced in over sixty countries.  It starts at 10 AM in the earliest time zone the last Saturday every April, and flows as a gentle wave across the entire planet. More.

What is World Tai Chi and Qigong Day? A Short Video History of this Global Phenomenon

What is World Tai Chi & Qigong Day ?

Subscribe to the World Tai Chi and Qigong Day newsletter

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The health benefits of t’ai chi

Harvard Health Publications wrote: Tai chi is often described as "meditation in motion," but it might well be called "medication in motion" … There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice … has value in treating or preventing many health problems. Through the power of ancient Chinese techniques, you can help lessen the power of stress on your mind and body. T'ai chi, originally a Chinese martial art, has evolved into a gentle exercise proven to provide many health benefits. And don't worry, it's something that can be done by anyone – it doesn't require any special skills or fitness level and can benefit people of all ages.

Tai Chi and Its Effect on the Body’s Lymphatic System

transparent human body

"Tai Chi Chuan movements, when done correctly, will act as a tool to help manually flush the body’s lymph system.  This doesn’t just happen by chance. These movements were intelligently designed to work with the three largest cluster of lymph nodes in the human body: 1) the Armpit (Heart-1 Ji Quan), shoulder nest area axillary fold (Lung -1 Zhong Fu), 2) the Groin (kua, stomach-30 Qi Chong), and 3) the Back of the Knees (Bladder-40 Wei Zhong).

The lymphatic system plays a vital supporting role to both our Cardiovascular and Immune systems.  They are responsible for keeping our blood volume levels where they need to be. They keep you from collapsing from low blood pressure. And they also prevent you from getting infections." More....

Tai Chi and Qigong for Sports Rehabilitation and Athletic Performance

Qigong and Tai Chi offer benefits for all ages and walks of life. With so much research focus placed on falls prevention in older adults we may forget that Tai Chi is also a martial art and benefits young, active athletes, especially in the domain of sports rehabilitation and performance. Collegiate level sports teams at the University of Virginia and Cal Poly have integrated Qigong and Tai Chi into their regular conditioning programs. Studies in Europe are investigating Qigong for active recovery following soccer matches.

IRQTC on YouTube.

Benefits and advantages of Qigong training and its integration in sports?

Increased flexibility, tendon strength, circulation, body awareness, balance, total body neuromuscular efficiency, and mental focus.  In my experience, Qigong acts as an exceptional moderate intensity training day activity, as well as pre and post training.  Also, Qigong / Tai Chi are both excellent off season activities to help develop improve neuromotor efficiency.  I worked extensively with a young soccer player this past off season to develop power, speed, and resiliency.  Even as the smallest, younger member on his team he has reported a half-second improvement in his 100 meter dash and a significant improvement in vertical leap.  In addition he notes being better “grounded” and able to shield larger players from the ball.  These are all things we’ve worked on with specific, “sung” training, Tai Chi jumping, and push hands.  

Can Qigong be used as an active recovery method for post-match soccer fatigue?

I added a paper below which shows some significance for strength gains in anaerobically trained athletes.  There is a small section on the potential for active recovery methods, which I agree most likely would take place through Qigong’s tendency to mobilize lymph, blood, and immune properties.  We have specifically used Qiong as pre-game warm up with significantly positive effect to enhance resiliency and active relaxation.

Sports organizations or teams which perform Qigong?

Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo CA, football, soccer, and volleyball & The University of Virginia swim team.  

Types of Qigong training for sports use?

All styles of Qigong are beneficial for both physical and sports enhancement, especially for psychological wellness, mental focus, enhanced circulation, etc… The muscle-tendon forms are specifically useful for strengthening neuromuscular systems and clearing connective tissue binding.  

THE IMPACT OF SELF-PRACTICE QIGONG ON STRENGTH GAINS AND WELL-BEING DURING OFF-SEASON TRAINING FOR FALL SPORT ATHLETES (.PDF). A Thesis presented to the Faculty of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Kinesiology in the College of Science and Mathematics by Christopher Shawn White June 2015.


Differences Between Tai Chi and Qigong

When you cultivate balance and harmony within yourself, or in the world -- that is Tai Chi. When you work and play with the essence and energy of life, nature and the universe for healing, clarity and inner peace -- that is QigongDr. Roger Jahnke, Founder, IIQTC.

Qigong literally means "gonging" or cultivating your vital energy ("qi") over time. As a practice it consists of a combination of movement, self-massage, meditation, and breathing (MORE: What is QigongGetting Started with QigongScientific Basis of Qigong). Tai Chi is the most well-known and popular moving form of Qigong. It is essentially meditation in motion, as are all moving forms of Qigong. Qigong practice provides the energetic foundation of Tai Chi, Qigong and Yoga. All of these practices work with the breath, intention, mindfulness, and awareness. Tai Chi, most forms of Qigong, and some types of Yoga add movement, which creates additional health benefits.

Jahnke described the fundamental practices of Qigong using Western medical terms in The Healer Within (Jahnke, 1997), but the first effort to define or standardize the fundamentals of Qigong and Tai Chi occurred at the National Expert Meeting on Qi Gong and Tai Chi. Two very important outcomes of the meeting were identifying a set of fundamental practices common to both Qigong and Tai Chi and declaring that Tai Chi practiced for health and Qigong are equivalent (Chodzko-Zajko and Jahnke 2005). This equivalence was introduced to clinical research with the definition of a new category of exercise called Meditative Movement (MM), separate from traditional forms of exercise because it includes Qigong and Tai Chi, which has the following characteristics: “(a) some form of movement or body positioning, (b) a focus on breathing, and (c) a cleared or calm state of mind with a goal of (d) deep states of relaxation” (Larkey 2009).

Three levels of Qigong training for Tai Chi

  • Practicing the form or the shape of the movements.
  • Practicing the details, this includes specific breathing patterns, concentration and alignment of various energy points.
  • Practicing the Qi (Chi) flow.

Main Differences Between Tai Chi and Qigong

The main differences between Tai Chi and Qigong involve how the form is practiced, how the energy is manipulated, the body posture, and whether the practice is done alone.

  • Traditional Tai Chi consists of learning and then practicing a specific form. Each form is a set of postures and movements that can take up to forty minutes or more to do once, and a form can take a year or more to learn and then years, or a lifetime, to perfect. By contrast, the majority of Qigong forms (some types of Qigong like Wild Goose also have forms, just like Tai Chi) can be learned quickly because they involve repeating a single movement or small number of movements.  Taking individual movements or postures from a Tai Chi form and practicing them by themselves is basically turning each of them into a Qigong form (often referred to as "Tai Chi Qigong").
  • Because of Tai Chi's (and especially Tai Chi Chuan's) martial arts influence, Tai Chi movements involve either expressing force (i.e. internal power/energy) or directing force. These types of manipulation of the body's energy are in addition to all of the energy balancing and strengthening practices that Tai Chi has in common with Qigong. Tai Chi also has some additional postural rules which enforce the body's structural integrity and alignment. For example, effort is taken during Tai Chi practice to ensure that the knees stay aligned with the feet and they do not extend beyond the toes. In general, these recommendations need to be kept in mind while doing Qigong because injury can result otherwise, but strict adherence to them during Qigong practice is not required. In other words, Qigong forms can be more free-flowing than Tai Chi from a postural and body alignment standpoint. Also, Tai Chi pays attention to the relationship between firmness and flexibility.
  • Another difference between Tai Chi, especially when practiced as a martial art, and Qigong is in partner practices such as push-hands. This training involves two people working together, physically touching and feeling each other's energy. During a Medical Qigong therapy session is usually where touching may occur with Qigong practice. Most Qigong practice that involves touching is through self-massage, and reflexology is an example.
  • Tai Chi is more cognitively demanding than most Qigong because Tai Chi is an exercise in tracking complexity: movement is complex. With Tai Chi you have to remember and practice a long form. This puts additional requirements on the brain that helps with anti-aging through enabling neural plasticity, enhanced sensory processing, and avoiding cognitive dysfunction
  • With most forms of Qigong, the moves are done over and over. With Tai Chi you may do a move a few times and then move on, although you may repeat short sequences of moves several times in a form. Doing each individual movement in a Tai Chi form many times (i.e. taking an individual Tai Chi movement from a longer form and performing just that movement by itself many times) is referred to as "Tai Chi Qigong". In other words, Tai Chi gestures (also called individual "forms" or postures or moves or movements within a longer Tai Chi form) done in a Qigong way is often called Tai Chi Qigong.
  • Tai Chi is a practice with origins in the martial arts and internal energy practices, while Qigong is a health practice with origins in Chinese culture, philosophy, and internal energy practices. "Internal energy practices" is a general term given to those practices, which originated in pre-historic shamanism, that balance a person's energy. This includes making sure that one has enough energy (or "qi") as well as having no energy blockages (i.e. no energy "stagnation"). Qigong is a more recent term given to these internal energetic practices which have been called Yangsheng, Dao Yin, Nei Gong, and other names through the millennia.
  • Tai Chi is not as easy to learn or practice as Qigong. Thus, Qigong's health benefits are more readily accessible.
  • Unless you already know Tai Chi well, it is very challenging to learn a Tai Chi form from a video or DVD. And even if you know Tai Chi well, some of the subtleties of a particular form may elude you because they are not clearly shown on the video. By contrast, you can learn Qigong well enough from a video to achieve profound benefits.
  • Tai Chi has many details, especially when combining movements that are not always present or required in Qigong.
  • Tai Chi has broader exposure and is more well known than Qigong.
  • Tai Chi does not involve self-massage.
  • Tai Chi requires that you practice a particular form a particular way. Most Qigong is more free-flowing. However, some people enjoy practicing Tai Chi in a more free- flowing way. This involves taking Tai Chi moves and doing them while moving about in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner. Free flowing Qigong and Tai Chi where there is no form is called spontaneous Qigong. Put to music, spontaneous Qigong becomes essentially Qigong Dancing. The Qigong moves done while Qigong Dancing can be no-form or form moves, or a combination; it's up to the practitioner.
  • The popular soft, internal martial art called Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) is a relatively new style and has been developed over the last 600 years. A verbal translation of ‘Taijiquan’ would be ‘the interaction of Yin/Yang (Taiji) in creating the fist or boxing (Quan)’. There are many physical, emotional and energetic benefits to gain from practising Taijiquan forms, as well as self-defence applications. Taijiquan can be described as one of the martial forms of Qigong. But a good way to differentiate between the two is to contrast the ways in which they are practised. Practising Taijiquan  is similar to shadow boxing with an imaginary opponent – blocking, striking, using the opponent’s energy with yours to find balance (Taiji or Tai Chi) – whereas Medical and Spiritual Qigong there is no opponent the  movements are practised purely to cultivate one’s own Qi, allowing it to connect with the Qi or energy of the universe.
  • Breathing is incorporated into Qigong and Tai Chi in different ways. Beginning Qigong students are taught breathing, usually abdominal (belly extends on inhale and contracts on exhale), which we all did automatically when we were babies. In Qigong, you do slow, rhythmic breathing, often coordinated with movement, right from the first class. On the other hand, Tai Chi teachers do not teach breathing or tell students how to breathe. Rather, they tell students to "breathe naturally." What this really means is to breathe in one of two main ways: 1) abdominal breathing (sometimes called "Taoist breathing") and/or 2) reverse-abdominal breathing (where air is inhaled to the chest first instead of the abdomen). You discover "how to breathe" (i.e. you end up coordinating one of the two main types of breathing with your Tai Chi movements) while you do the forms as the years go by. Also, different Tai Chi masters might emphasize one type of breathing or a combination. For example: Reverse breathing is the method of breathing for Taijiquan practice, but paradoxically the instruction in both meditation and form practice is to forget about the breathing. The focus in wuji meditation is to enter quiet. Some schools do use breathing as a tool to enter quiet, but thinking about breathing is not entering true quiescence. In Taiji form movement, the focus is on xin yi(mind/intention), and it is definitely wrong to think about qi or breathing.... The resolution of this paradox is that the breathing pattern must become so natural that you need not consider it. It is okay to practice the reverse breathing when beginning a meditation or the form, or when performing single movement qigong exercises. Actually, you can practice anytime -- driving in your car, sitting at your desk at work -- whenever you think about it. Over time, the reverse breathing pattern will internalize and become so natural that you can forget about it and move on. Yang Yang. Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power .

Also see The Difference between Tai Chi & Qigong on the Energy Arts website.