Difference between Tai Chi and Qigong

Key Difference: A basic difference between Tai Chi and Qigong is that Tai Chi streamlines the energy within a person’s body, whereas Qigong cultivates energy and provides for its distribution as well.

The term Tai Chi, means the “supreme ultimate fist”. It is a discipline devoted to achieve unity and harmony between the mind and the body of a person. Tai Chi is highly influenced by the Taoist and Buddhist monasteries, and first originated in China. The basic tenets of Tai Chi include self-defense and maintenance of one’s health. The health here refers to the physical and also mental fitness of a person, which is why Tai Chi comprises of three important modules namely: health, meditation and martial arts.

The fundamental premise of Tai Chi is to be responsive and aware of the opponent’s vital energy, also known as ‘Chi’. Tai Chi teaches a person to anticipate and react to the opponent’s moves and movements, without instigating any on one’s own. It is the knowledge of using an opponent’s vital force to one’s advantage. Keeping this in mind, Tai Chi involves the practice of slow movements, which enable a person to learn the art of balancing himself/herself in all conditions, and also eliminate the risk of falling.

Qigong also functions on the basic principle of Tai Chi. It is primarily concerned with cultivating the vital force or energy, known as Qi, in a person’s body. In Chinese practices of Tai Chi and Qigong, the Qi, or the energy present in a person’s body is considered as be all and end all. Qi is understood as the basic life support that sustains an individual and promotes his further growth and development. Unlike Tai Chi, where the focus lies on using the opponent’s Qi to one’s advantage, Qigong prescribes the cultivation and enrichment of one’s own Qi to achieve mental and physical accord.

A notable feature about Qigong is that lacks the attacking and defensive skills of combat that are taught in Tai Chi. Instead, activities forming a part of Qigong are directly related to breathing and relaxation of the human mind and body. Like it happens in Tai Chi, slow rhythmic movements are an integral part of this discipline. Another striking aspect of Qigong is that its activities are aimed also at the circulation of Qi to the various parts of the body. Perhaps, this is why Qigong is understood as a practice of organ development, and Tai Chi as a practice of physical development.

Comparison between Tai Chi and Qigong:


Tai Chi



“Supreme Ultimate Fist”

 "Life Energy Cultivation"





Achieving internal and external stability.

Aligning breath, movement and meditation.


It is a soft and hard martial art form.

It’s a soft martial art form.

Other aspects

Health, meditation apart from martial arts.

N/A. Internal development is the only tenet of Qigong. Combative skills are not a part of it.


Slow and rhythmic


Basic tenets

Mental and physical oneness

Energy cultivation and circulation

Image Courtesy: taichilee.com, unityhartford.org

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