The difference between Qigong & Tai Chi?
I was recently asked about the difference between Qigong and Tai Chi. This was a good question, because it was observant of them to notice, yet most people accept what they are told.
I'll keep the answer brief, because it would be no fun if you haven't got anything to ponder upon. Qigong are basically breathing exercises that help with concentration, mindfulness and meditation. There are literally thousands of such exercises, so there isn't one right way. Qigong is linked to Chinese medicine and martial arts. As such it can be for both health or for martial purposes. Because you need health to be martial, the two should not be seen as separate. Qigong's origins can be found in the earliest periods of Chinese history and is not a new or new-age thing. Qigong can be static or moving and some, like the Phoenix Qigong system is based around a routine not unlike a Tai Chi routine. In our school we have a qigong set called "Eight Brocade" or Baduanjin. Our qigong set have a number of slow moving qigongs, but also exercises that helps stimulates certain functions in your body. The breathing patterns most commonly seen is abdominal breathing. The movements are slow and smooth.
Tai Chi is often recognised as being slow and smooth and it is not hard to understand why Tai Chi and Qigong can be seen as the same. However, Tai Chi was created as a martial art system and being recognised as a health exercise came much later. You actually get the same health benefits form both. Tai Chi's origins come from the Daoist martial traditions and health exercises. The Tai Chi we know today has history of around 200 years. Yet, the roots of the art go back 3000 years. Tai Chi forms are not static and usually involves a long routines with more than 100 moves. Without the martial aspect, it is just a physical exercise.
So there is a difference between the two, and whilst similar, they are actually different disciplines. The thing is, is that they are both a lot of fun and even if the martial side is not for you, the health health benefits are numorous. A good student always ask questions. It is good to ask, even if you have an inkling as to what the answer might be. Quite often, we might not be 100% sure, so a sanity check is good.