Is Tai Chi Chuan a qigong technique?

This should not be a question. The answer is obvious and very clear to people who really understand Tai Chi Chuan. However, this question has remained an issue to many people. I believe that Tai Chi Chuan is a very special qigong technique based on the following.

1. The definition of martial art and qigong disciplines
Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art system and it is very effective as such. There are many people agreed this. Otherwise, it would have been eliminated in history. There are people that say since Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art system, it cannot be a qigong discipline at the same time. There should be no contradiction here. We know that the Chinese martial art systems have qigong component as a training method to improve the martial technique's power. One cannot easily separate the qigong power and energy internal training from martial application external training because internal training is a continuation from the external training. Of course, Tai Chi Chuan is uniquely different from other Chinese martial art systems and qigong exercises because it is the combination of the two disciplines. This is why Tai Chi Chuan is a unique art that is able to yield many benefits. These multiple functions are but the result from the combination of the two disciplines. Practicing Tai Chi Chuan is combined martial art and qigong disciplines into one unit so that when one is practicing Tai Chi Chuan, one is practicing qigong as well as martial art.

2. The principle of qigong
Today, there are thousands of qigong techniques available. It is very difficult and confusing for a novel student to choose. Although the instructions may be different, it is based on one principle. It is the principle of two combined into one. We can see this principle which is applying to all things in life. Does not matter it is an object as large as a universe or as small as an atom. This same principle is applied to martial art and qigong disciplines as well. This principle in ancient Chinese writing is called "Tai Chi", a condition has Yin and Yang Components. Although all the qigong techniques available today may be different in instruction, they attempt to achieve one thing, to transform the practitioner to enter the stage of "Tai Chi". There are people said that "Tai Chi" in qigong and "Tai Chi" in martial art are not the same thing. However, among the Tai Chi Chuan practitioners, it is the same thing. Tai Chi Chuan is physical, it is the visible "Tai Chi". Qigong is not physical or not emphasize on physical, it is the invisible "Tai Chi". Qigong in Tai Chi Chuan is also known as Nei Gong. It is the ingredient to have a powerful strike.

3. Intent Training
The essence in qigong training is to train one's intent. When the intent correct, one's behavior will be corrected. In martial art training, the objective is to control and defeat the opponent. Tai Chi Chuan practitioners recognized this information and recommended to mobilized the intent before any physical movement. Therefore, intent is one of the three major criteria to determine one's skill. Therefore, the Tai Chi Chuan Classic said, "When the intent is there, the qi is there. When the qi is there, the power is there."

4. Body Position
Qigong is highly emphasis on body position. It is the same thing in Tai Chi Chuan. Without correct position, the qi would not properly circulate inside the body. In Tai Chi Chuan, when one practices the Solo Form, it is equivalent to one is engaging in a qigong practices. In Tai Chi Chuan practices, when the body is position upright, suspend the hand from above, the qi will be circulated better inside the body. When one relaxed the chest and plucked the back, sunk the qi to the dantien, and emptied the chest and filled the abdomen, one had cleared the meridian channels and balance the body. When one sunk the shoulders, pointed the elbows, bent the wrists and distinguished empty from full weight, one had body connection and coordination.

5. Training
When one is practicing the Tai Chi Chuan solo form, it is equivalent to all the dynamic and static trainings in qigong discipline. When one is practicing each individual posture in Tai Chi Chuan, it is a complete dynamic qigong training. When one is holding each individual posture in Tai Chi Chuan, it is a perfect static qigong training. From a martial art perspective, a skillful practitioner must break down the solo form to work on the application of each individual posture. From practicing, one will understand all the applications, variations and power transmission so that each posture is a perfect technique for martial strike.

6. Qi Field
The term "Qi field" spoken of among the members of qigong community is similar to the term "Qi Posture" by the Tai Chi Chuan practitioners. In qigong, "Qi field" is referring to a phenomenon of energy surrounding the biological body. It is the result from energy fueling the biological functions. In Tai Chi Chuan, it is the concept of correct and perfect execution of each posture with high spirit and gracefulness. The posture is so perfect that there is no corner or edge. It reveals to the practitioner a sensation that "The universe is my body" and "My body is the universe" or the ancient Chinese called "The body is harmonized with the universe." When the posture is executed correctly, one feels the body bloating and has buoyancy like a balloon. This is the condition past Tai Chi Chuan practitioners referring to the body has many hands to defense a strike. In qigong discipline, this condition is referring to the body has Yin and Yang, Five Elements and Pa Kua. Traditional Chinese medicine called this condition the Yin and Yang balance. Since this condition of "Qi Posture" is together, balance and stable, the body is in an optimum condition.

7. Special Qigong Ability
Special qigong ability or psychic ability known to the westerners is an ability to perform some type of qi application. There are people apply special qigong ability as a criteria to determined rather Tai Chi Chuan is a qigong technique or not. Since the body is already born with Yin and Yang imbalance thus it is vulnerable to illness. A demonstration of special qigong ability will consume energy. It is an action will caused the body further away from Yin and Yang balance. Therefore, Tai Chi Chuan practitioners do not demonstrate this ability often. When they do, they demonstrate the advance ability that have benefit to the body such as the concept of 4 ounces overcome 1000 pounds and guide the opponent to miss the target. It is demonstrated based on the "Qi Posture". This is different from special qigong ability, therefore, one can see that Tai Chi Chuan practitioners demonstrated special qigong ability at different level. It has the martial art value that most qigong technique does not have.

8. Types of Qi
The Tai Chi Chuan Classic said "The body is emphasized on accumulating the spirit, not qi. If the emphasis is on qi, the body has stagnation. If the body is concentrating on qi, there is no power. If the body is cultivating qi, it is too hard." This statement indicated that there are many different types of qi and recommended that one should not practice the lower level qi as well as pointed out the reason. Tai Chi Chuan is emphasized on the original qi. Therefore, Tai Chi Chuan practitioners are able to demonstrate advance ability that has benefit to the body not harmful to the body.

9. Slow and Fast
Slow is one of the Tai Chi Chuan characteristics. This slowness in movement demonstrates the control, circulate, relax, concentrate and balance in Tai Chi Chuan training. This indication that Tai Chi Chuan training is engaged in a different and higher level of qigong training. As discussed before, some of the special qigong ability demonstration is low level body ability. It is harmful to the practitioner's body. Many qigong techniques emphasized that qi penetration to the bone as an advance method of qigong training. This instruction is the beginning lesson to the Tai Chi Chuan students. Tai Chi Chuan is emphasized on internal circulation as the advance method of training. Therefore, qi sensation is not very obvious to Tai Chi Chuan practitioners. This is appearing to be not very good, actually, this is a correct method to achieve "Qi Posture" or Yin and Yang balance. This is the optimum body condition.

When a novel student chooses Tai Chi Chuan over other qigong techniques, one is already ahead of many qigong practitioners. One is already standing at the peak of a mountain looking at the summit. From a martial art perspective, slow training in Tai Chi Chuan is to achieve speedy respond. Is Tai Chi Chuan a qigong technique? The answer is affirmative.

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