Have you thought about studying Tai Chi or Qigong? Since there are many styles/systems of Tai Chi and Qigong, are they all equally beneficial or not? If not, how do we recognize which ones are better than others. This article will briefly explore the CORE answers to these questions.
Qigong has two main components:
1. Health Benefits
2. Meditative (sometimes referred to as Spiritual) Benefits
Qigong is usually recommended when you have specific health concerns which it is designed to address. Or for people who seek an illness preventive discipline that also reduces stress, has little to no impact and doesn’t teach martial arts.
Valid methods of Qigong work on specific problems within the body via the movements or postures, and breathing, which in turn trigger their corresponding meridians. So, as long as a person is working on the correct meridian then they can help the specific ailment associated with that meridian.
Yet, it is important to note that no individual Qigong is a complete system/approach by itself. This is because one Qigong usually only works on one, or a limited number of meridians. Therefore, if a Qigong is to be a complete heath system it must offer enough postures/techniques which in turn work on ALL meridians. But, and this is VITALLY IMPOTANT, these meridians MUST be activated in the correct sequence.
This “correct sequence” is known as the Qi Cycle or Horary Cycle. This cycle sequentially depicts the 24 hour flow of Qi in our bodies. Following this exact meridian sequence is VITAL for our balanced health.
As such, if you are practicing a Qigong which works merely on one or a few meridians you may produce short terms benefits. Thus we get the claims from people about how specific Qigong’s helped them with this or that problem. But keep in mind that this is ONLY a short sighted approach and can be detrimental in the long run. Why? Because our bodies were meant to work as a complete unit via a holistic approach. If we don’t practice the entire Horary cycle in the correct sequence our intrinsic life force (Qi) we will never be activated in a balanced manner and thus we cannot energetically live in optimal health.
Yet there is an additional concern even if one practice several Qigong’s that follows the correct Horary cycle. That is, Qigong in and of itself can be categorized as a Yin system and to be optimally balanced it needs a Yang compliment. And this Yang compliment is Martial Arts. Hence the problem with merely practicing Qigong as a way of life.
This is where Tai Chi comes in. Correct Tai Chi IS a Qigong and much more.
Tai Chi has three main components:
1. Health Benefits
2. Martial Arts Benefits
3. Spiritual or Meditative Benefits
Let me start by saying that the reasons there are many forms of Tai Chi is complicated. In some cases it is because there have been people who felt that they could create a better Tai Chi system than the one they initially learned. Maybe they felt this way because their initial system or instructor was not very good. Or, maybe they created a new system because they had a strong ego and wanted to be revered or looked up to. Maybe they wanted to make more money, etc. The reasons are varied.
So, the quickest and best way to identify which Tai Chi system is valid is to examine its components. It MUST have all three of the above “components” if it is to be a valid Tai Chi system. Yet, virtually any Tai Chi system can make this claim. So how do we distinguish a valid Tai Chi system from one that is not in our best interest?
To our knowledge there are only two systems of Tai Chi which are complete and valid. These are:
1. The Original Yang Lu-Ch’an Tai Chi Chuan (Originally known as H’ao Chu’an, translated as “Loose Boxing”)
2. The Yang Cheng-Fu form (which was a watered down version of The Original Yang Lu-Ch’an Tai Chi Chuan)
(Note: Please refer to this ARTICLE for more details.)
To avoid over complication I’ll focus strictly on the KEY points of what’s makes these Tai Chi systems “valid”.
1. Health – Only these systems follow the Horary Cycle. In other words, the sequential techniques/postures of the forms (with proper breathing and SUNG) activate each meridian in the correct sequence mimicking the 24 hour Horary cycle. While other forms of Tai Chi DO NOT DO THIS and the end result can only be defeating.
2. Martial Arts – Virtually any Tai Chi motion can be manipulated to simulate a defensive technique. But with the valid systems of Tai Chi you learn more than this, you also learn Dim-Mak. Dim-Mak (literally meaning death touch) is the art and science of vital point fighting. Vital points are the vulnerable areas of the body that when struck properly causes, is the best case scenario pain and the body to not function normally, and in the worst case scenario, results in death.
Some vital points are just structurally weak areas in ones anatomical construction (such as the throat, or knee cap, etc). Most martial arts systems seem to focus on these structurally weak areas. But there are other vital areas specifically related to points located on the various meridians. The science of striking these points is a very advanced methodology of fighting. For more details on Dim-Mak read this ARTICLE.
One of the numerous genius aspects of the valid systems of Tai Chi are that each technique is a finishing blow if used correctly in a fight. The motions of Tai Chi are designed so that they strike vital points in the correct direction, and in proper succession with other points to optimize their defensive effectiveness. In other words, one point can be used by itself or enhanced if used as a set up point for another succeeding point(s), etc.
So, Dim-Mak makes Tai Chi one of the world’s most deadly martial arts in that every single move can be a killing motion if, God forbid, such a need arose. And while some may cringe at the idea of using Tai Chi as a killing system and thus may wish to focus only on its health benefits; well, this is a short sighted approach. It is like taking the Yin out of the Yang, the night from the day, the male from the female. It can’t be done without causing unfortunate side effects. Therefore, Tai Chi MUST have both the Healing (Yin) and Fighting (Yang) aspect to be Balanced.
And when Tai Chi is practiced as a complete and Balanced discipline its side effect (beyond the above mentioned benefits) produce coordinate spiritual/meditative results often described as “moving meditation”.
In summary, authentic Tai Chi stands out because:
1. Its techniques follow the Horary Cycle.
2. Its Martial Arts system is the pinnacle of self defense based on the art/science of Dim-Mak.
3. When both the Health and Martial Arts are unified one attains Balance and gains optimal meditative/spiritual benefits.
Note: There are of course numerous other components of a healthy and holistic lifestyle which include proper diet/nutrition, proper hydration, social interaction, etc. But Tai Chi is the perfect complement to virtually anyone’s lifestyle if they seek to live in a beneficial and holistic way.