Qi Gong vs Tai Chi: 4 Fundamental Differences Between These Sophisticated Arts
According to Chinese philosophy, every person has a life force circulating all over their body.
Researched, written by Amber & The Team
Updated on January 10, 2023
// We recommend helpful products in our articles. Read our full disclosure here.
Qi Gong vs Tai Chi – what is the difference between the two?
Qi Gong and Tai Chi are two ancient Chinese martial arts that focus on the mind-body connection, energy, and flow of life through you and those around you. They are both very popular and known for their health benefits, but both are slightly different from each other.
In this article, we will first start with the core of these 2 arts – the Qi or life energy. Then we will explain each of them separately and go over the biggest differences between them. We will wrap up by comparing the pros and cons to see if there is a clear winner in our battle. Let’s start!
Qi Gong vs Tai Chi
What is Qi/Chi?
The life energy that is in all of us – Qi
According to Chinese medicine and philosophy, every person has a life force circulating all over their body. This life energy can emanate so much energy that it can affect the quality of our health, happiness, and longevity.
There are different types, forms, and levels of Qi energy. It can be said that there are infinite levels of Qi, but we can only scratch the surface of four of them.
These are those 4 levels of Qi:
- Electrical Current – this type of Qi is in the form of an electrical current that can be measured on acupuncture points throughout your body.
- Bio–Energy Field – this type of life energy is felt and pushed in a circle around your mind and body. It can be measured as electromagnetic frequencies using the senses.
- Bio–Photons – these are actual light particles that shine around you and form the energy you release around your body.
- Subtle Energy – this Qi is just the energy that you emanate with your being. You can pass it and it can even travel thousands of miles in an instant, making it felt across the universe.
According to life energy practitioners, everyone has Qi or life energy, just some have more than others. It is one of the things that can take seconds to learn but years to fully master. To better master the life energy flow through your body and those around you and reach its many health benefits, it is recommended to practice the Chinese arts of Qi Gong or Tai Chi.
What is Qi Gong?
The subtle movements coming from the center of the body in Qi Gong
Qi Gong is the mental part of the vital energy flow that is based on the five elements in our bodies – wood, water, metal, earth, and fire. This is the internal process that is happening that powers and activates our body or spirit (Qi).
The practice of Qigong can be done either passively or actively and there are three distinct types of Qigong that are all applied to the internal processes controlling the life force of humans.
- Medical – focusing on your inner energy for healing, wellness, and vitality. Some researchers say an experienced Qi Gong master can slow down the spread of cancer cells.
- Spiritual – the connection from bodily energy to the ‘divine’, the energy of consciousness and spirit.
- Martial – the energy that you can construct from the inside for protection and self-defense on the outside, in a sense.
Tai Chi falls into this third branch, or simply put, the martial style of Qi Gong practice.
What is Tai Chi?
The martial art movements of Tai Chi
The very origins of Tai Chi are shrouded in martial art legends. Some say that it dates back as far as the 8th century BC. Over the years it has progressed and evolved and a lot of sub-branches have broken off. Today the most popular ones are Chen, Yang, and Wu Style Tai Chi.
Depending on which style you practice and the mentor you learn it from you will find that Tai Chi has more styles that are combative and others that are more internal and meditative.
Statue of Tai Chi Master In Beijing
Developing your inner power, or Qi, is fundamental to a person’s progress in Tai Chi and also in Qi Gong. It doesn’t focus that much on muscle size as it does to properly teach you to utilize your skeletal structure, tendons, and joints to deliver very efficient movements that are connected to the ground.
Tai Chi Sword
The remarkable Tai Chi sword
Being a martial art, Tai Chi has a fascinating sword to go alongside it. It is a very historical weapon with a purpose focused on not taking one’s life, and instead better preserving one.
The common metaphor for Tai Chi is to be like a tree with stable and sturdy roots sinking deep into the earth and branches that are flexible and can reach the sky. The practitioner will be immovable just like a trunk of a tree, yet flexible to any big movement or change in their life.
Both of these arts require a very big focus on coordination between breathing, posture, full body movements, and even the current state of mind that you are in. All of these things combined will bring you peace and powerful relaxation, something that is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine with herbs and teas.
Qi Gong vs Tai Chi: What Are The Main Differences between the two?
1. The biggest difference between the two arts is that Tai Chi utilizes the whole of Qi Gong, whereas when doing Qi Gong you won’t need Tai Chi. The easiest comparison that can be done is like eating an organic apple and a GMO apple. You can eat and get the full taste of a GMO apple, but you won’t get the healthy nutrients of the real organic one.
2. Practicing the art of Tai Chi without Qi Gong would be the same as eating a GMO apple. You will get a little exercise but you won’t cultivate your inner life force. Something that is the primary goal of these arts.
3. Qi Gong only serves to help you guide your mind with its movements. The more you practice the more you will find your inner peace. When combined with the combative almost martial art movements of Tai Chi you will reach that final potential of your Qi energy.
4. The Qi Gong will help you focus only on certain internal things that you want to focus on and will do a very good job at it. Whereas with Tai Chi, you will be doing a whole series of movements implementing both the arts into one.
Benefits of Tai Chi & Qi Dong
These are both meditational arts that are based on slow breathing and slow-motion moves. Both of them have great benefits for the mind and body. To say that Qi Gong is only good for the mind and Tai Chi is only for the body is wrong.
That is why we will place both of their benefits into one list since they are arts that work very well together and more or less bring in the same benefits:
- The better overall balance of energy;
- Lowers one’s stress levels and anxiety;
- Better, stronger, and longer sleep;
- Lowers and balances blood pressure;
- Lower chances of chronic diseases;
- Improves strength and agility;
- Better overall posture;
- Better cardiac function and blood circulation;
- Bone strength;
- Improves your self-defense skills.
Qi Gong VS Tai Chi – The Verdict
The two methods of treatment have several similarities, making a comparison between them difficult. However, where they are similar is how they assist you beyond just increasing your muscle strength. You actually can’t go wrong with either art form since they are both low-impact kinds of exercise, assist in relieving stress, and function as meditation through movement.
Both practices are not meant to be against each other, instead, they are there for helping you. Each practice moves from the center and the very core of our bodies. They are water-like internal arts that both cultivate energy.
A clear winner between these art forms would simply be wrong, and frankly, impossible.
The practitioners of these meditational arts have a much better quality of life by simply doing slow movements even 10 minutes per day sometimes. Each art form helps improve your overall mental health, and immune system while also improving one’s fitness level too.
"We love to research, examine, analyze, and present to you the best ideas that make life better. You can learn about our editorial standards here."
This article was proofread by Grammarly