left biblioblography: Tai Chi And Qigong – Telling The Difference

Monday, October 05, 2009

Tai Chi And Qigong – Telling The Difference

As an avid Tai Chi practitioner, I run into a lot of misconceptions and confusion. Hope this helps.

I’ve been directed to parks by people who say, “Yeah, there are Tai Chi players there,” but when I arrive, all the folks there are doing Qigong. So let’s dispel a few misconceptions, and some myths while we’re at it.

1. Tai Chi is a form of qigong, but is also separate.
2. Tai Chi is a martial art – if you see elderly Chinese people walking slowly, or standing still for long amounts of time, it’s likely Qigong. If they’re just waving their arms about – probably the latter. If it looks like they’re doing a martial art move in slo-mo – probably Tai Chi.
3. Not every Chinese person is good at Tai Chi, so you probably shouldn’t make a snap judgment as to whether or not it’s any damn good.

Number 3 is an understandable one. I’ve been playing in plenty of parks, and some ancient Asian will come up, and start doing a Tai Chi form. Currently I see this little old man where I practice. He’s…well, he’s bloody awful is what. It looks more like some sorry calisthenics than Tai Chi.

Conversely, I was practicing in a park in Fremont a few years back, and this pretty Chinese gal came over when I finished, and chatted me up. She told me, “I just moved here from Beijing a few months ago, and you’re better than the old men I saw in the parks over there.”

Funny story: so this happens a lot. Elderly Chinese folk come up to me after practice, and begin to talk to me in Mandarin. I usually tell them (in Mandarin) that my Chinese is terrible. They figure, ‘Hey, look at this guy! He’s gotta speak the lingo!” So usually I hear a string of words + sentences, and I shrug and smile.

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