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Natural Awakenings Space & Treasure Coast Florida

Qi-gong or T’ai Chi What’s the Difference?

Apr 05, 2011 01:41AM ● By John Walcott

With rising popularity of the internal arts, the terms Tai Chi and Qi-gong tend to be used interchangeably. Tai Chi is a shortened version of the full phrase T’ai Chi Chuan which means "grand ultimate fist." Qi-gong means "energy" or "life-force exercises."

The National Qi-gong Association Board of Directors ( has discussed the difference between T’ai Chi Chuan and Qi-gong. My collegue, Dr. Mark Melchiorre , DOM, explains that "it does seem that, at least in the USA for the general public, Tai Chi is the generic term for any "slow moving Asian exercise form."

The earliest recorded mention of T’ai Chi Chuan is during the 12th century with its legendary and perhaps mythical creator Zhang San Feng. The earliest recorded mention of Qi-gong or its historical name "Tao Yin" goes back 6,000 years. An earlier term for Qi-gong, which is all but lost to antiquity, refers to an earlier time before recorded language. From oral tradition it translates to "life nourishing." In other words Qi-gong as an art has existed thousands of years, even before T’ai Chi Chuan. Qi-gong is the forerunner or grandmother of acupuncture, acupressure, T’ai Chi Chuan and almost 300 hundred styles of Kung-fu and more than 30 styles of Karate which influence the development of Tae Kwon Do, including Aikido, Shiatsu and several styles of Jujitsu.

T’ai Chi Chuan is a form of Qi-gong and it is also a martial art as traditional practitioners were required to use a striking bag. The Qi-gong family has over 7,000 healing arts of which Tai-chi is one. Qi-gong employs healing modalities including healing sounds, self massage, trigger point therapy, and vibration massage.

T’ai Chi Chuan is arguably the most popular member in a family of over 7,000 arts. Within the Qi-gong family is T’ai-Chi Chuan, Bagua Zhang Qi-gong, Guolin style Qi-gong, White Crane Qi-gong, Flying Dragon Qi-gong, Small Heaven Qi-gong , and Water Style Qi-gong. Some people cannot practice T’ai Chi Chuan due to health challenges. However, under a certified instructor, anyone can practice any of the 7,000 styles of Qi-gong. They can be done whether you are confined to a bed trying to regain your health or you are a world class athlete trying to improve your performance.

John Walcott is a board member of the National Qi-gong association ( He is the founder of the Vero Beach Qi-gong Society and the originator of the Cloudwalker mind/body healing system

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