Qigong vs Tai Chi

Qigong vs Tai Chi — (Health Coach’s Advice)

As FindItHealth’s lead wellness coach, you can count on me to provide you with the insights you need on natural therapies and how they stack up against each other.

According to a 2020 study by Liu et al., practicing Qigong and Tai Chi exercises may reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in both healthy and clinical populations.

Nowadays, many people attest to the benefits of qigong and tai chi for improving energy pathways, health, and well-being. Although they share similarities, their subtle differences make each uniquely suited for specific goals and individuals

Dive with us into understanding the differences between Qigong and Tai Chi, helping you make informed choices based on clarity and evidence.

Main Difference Between Qigong And Tai Chi

Here’s a quick snapshot of how these two physical arts differ:

  • Tai Chi requires greater discipline and an intricate series of movements.
  • Qigong, on the other hand, is more free-form and tends to be adaptive.
  • While tai chi is rooted primarily as a martial art, qigong centers around wellness and well-being.

Below is a deeper look at the fundamental differences:

Qigong Vs Tai Chi: Practice

While tai chi has gained more traction in the West, qigong is deeply woven into daily life in China.

It’s practiced in schools, universities, and hospitals as an integral part of the Chinese National Health Plan.

Tai Chi, in contrast, is viewed in China as a distinct martial or movement practice. It’s something individuals choose to engage in rather than being a mandated wellness routine.

Qigong Vs Tai Chi: Complexity

Complexity can be subjective, but generally speaking, tai chi is more intricate than qigong. Tai Chi consists of specific moves executed sequentially. While each move might not be as intricate as those in some other exercises or martial arts, the way they interlace makes tai chi inherently complex.

Moreover, tai chi movements are carried out slowly, emphasizing precision, muscular strength, mindfulness, and intention. Many practitioners invest months or even longer to master them.

Qigong, meanwhile, centers more on breathing than on movement. Any motions involved are often one single movement, repeated in a rhythmic pattern.

Qigong Vs Tai Chi: Discipline

Having its roots as a martial art, tai chi demands a significant level of discipline. There’s a strong focus on getting the form just right and mastering each move to perfection. Ensuring the optimal alignment of the spine, knees, and feet is crucial in this practice.

Qigong, on the other hand, offers a more relaxed approach. It’s a free-form movement art, less stringent than tai chi.

Qigong Vs Tai Chi: Which Is Better For You?

The following sheds light on the unique benefits of tai chi and qigong, to specific goals and needs:

Tai Chi is more physically demanding, typically burning more calories and offering enhanced strength, flexibility, and balance compared to most qigong routines. Hence, if you’re after a robust anti-aging regime or a more intense physical workout, tai chi might be your go-to.

Meanwhile, qigong movements stand out as a more flexible and accommodating practice, especially for those navigating injuries or specific physical limitations. So, if you’re dealing with an injury or a physical constraint, qigong can still be within your reach.

Some tai chi postures and slow movements demand considerable balance and coordination.

Those who find standing challenging, particularly on one foot, may find tai chi challenging as well.

Here’s a glimpse into recent research on the impacts of tai chi and qigong across different groups:

  • For those with pronounced abdominal obesity and Type 2 diabetes, a 2022 study indicates that qigong is safer and beneficial than tai chi.
  • A 2021 meta-analysis review published in BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine accentuates tai chi’s utility for fitness and competitive sports. Tai Chi has been shown to moderately enhance postural balance and, notably, spinal flexibility.
  • A 2017 systematic review examining the effects of qigong and tai chi on children and adolescents revealed that both practices bolster physical health and functionality. However, their impact on psychological well-being and behavior remains uncertain.
  • In a 2014 study examining tai chi and qigong’s impact on depression, both exercises demonstrated small to moderate efficacy in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, more rigorous trials are needed, especially with patients exhibiting pronounced symptoms.
  • A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that tai chi and qigong might be beneficial for weight management. Both exercises display noticeable effects on body composition compared to inactive controls.

From these studies, it’s clear that both tai chi and qigong offer benefits, not just for the generally healthy but also for those with medical conditions.


Similarities Between Qigong And Tai Chi

Let’s take a look into the commonalities between tai chi and qigong:

  • Origins: Both tai chi and qigong spring from ancient Chinese philosophy, medicine, and martial arts. They embrace foundational concepts such as Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, and the meridian system.
  • Qi (Chi) Cultivation: At the heart of both practices is the nurturing, flow, and balance of “qi”. Through directing qi within the body, enthusiasts seek to enhance health, vigor, and spiritual consciousness.
  • Martial Applications: While both encompass martial elements, they’re more overt in tai chi. Though these martial facets remain in traditional teachings, contemporary practices often sideline them, retaining them mainly as historical underpinnings for the movements.
  • Gentle Exercises: Both provide gentle exercises that enhance equilibrium, positioning, and muscular coordination. They share health perks such as stress reduction and enhanced relaxation.
  • Holistic Health: Tai Chi and qigong perceive the body, mind, and spirit as intertwined. Their practice aims to synchronize these elements harmoniously.


History Of Qigong

The practice of qigong has a 4,000-year history, and today it is a combination of ancient Chinese meditative practices including “xingqi” (circulating qi) and “daoyin” (a gymnastic breathing exercise emphasizing guiding and pulling).

These practices find their roots in Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and martial arts. Additionally, they incorporate elements from modern health, science, meditation, and exercise disciplines.

Some Chinese scholars even posit that ancient philosophers like Mencius and Confucius laid the groundwork for the scholarly qigong tradition, given their references to qi training as a moral development tool


History Of Tai Chi

Historical references to tai chi allude to a Taiji cosmology present in Taoist and Confucian philosophy. This cosmology centers around Yin and Yang, which symbolizes the singular origin or mother. Tai chi also incorporates Chinese theories of the body, specifically internal alchemy, qi (vital energy), and the three dantian.

It’s noteworthy that tai chi’s Taoist tenets guide the practitioner towards achieving undifferentiated pure Yang, representing a potent masculine energy. Additionally, tai chi is recognized within Chinese martial arts, falling under the Wudang group, which emphasizes internal energy and power.


Should You Do Tai Chi Or Qigong?

If you’re considering either tai chi or qigong as a form of wellness, you need to consider your physical capabilities and aspirations as follows:

While many practice tai chi today mainly for its health and meditative advantages, its origins and tenets are firmly grounded in martial arts, leaning more towards defense than offense. 

So, if you’re keen on mastering a sequence of movements or choreographed forms that could bolster martial arts prowess or enhance your existing martial skills, tai chi could be your match.

On the other hand, If you’re more inclined towards energy practice, simple repetitive motions, or even static postures for nurturing and balancing qi, qigong might be more up your alley. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better: Tai Chi or Qigong?

The ideal choice hinges on individual goals and preferences, but incorporating either tai chi or qigong into a routine offers substantial health benefits.

Athletes may be drawn to tai chi due to its focus on flexibility and strength development. In contrast, qigong, with its emphasis on deep breathing and energy cultivation, can be particularly beneficial for seniors, providing adaptable exercises suited for diverse health conditions. Marathon runners, too, can benefit from qigong’s concentration on endurance and recovery.

Which is easier to learn: Qigong or Tai Chi?

Tai Chi has a steeper learning curve due to its structured sequences of movements, known as forms. Some of these forms are comprehensive, and perfecting them can be time-consuming. On the other hand, qigong offers an immediate entry point with straightforward exercises that can be quickly grasped. With qigong, you can begin reaping benefits without an extensive initial learning period. 

Is Qigong harder than Tai Chi?

While the external movements of tai chi present their own set of challenges, the internal components – such as synchronizing breath, deliberate movement, and intention, grasping the martial applications, and nurturing energy – add intricate layers of depth.

However, advanced qigong has its own hurdles. The intricacies of qigong run deep, encompassing profound meditation, visualization, and detailed energy work.

For instance, in the West, qigong practitioners might offer an “Advanced Qigong Healers” class, building upon the foundational course.

The emphasis in this advanced setting is on forging profound, enduring shifts in energy flow and mindset, enhancing qi healing, blood pressure, and meditation techniques.  

Is Qigong the mother of Tai Chi?

Qigong is often regarded as the precursor to tai chi, sometimes even referred to as its “mother” or “grandmother.” Tai Chi evolved from the foundational principles and practices already established in qigong.

Who should not do Qigong?

The following scenarios or conditions might require caution and sidestepping certain qigong exercises:

  • Engaging in qigong with improper form can result in strain or injury. It’s always wise to learn under the guidance of a seasoned instructor, especially for beginners.
  • Some people are notably sensitive to energy shifts. They might encounter discomfort, unease, or other disruptions when engaging in certain qigong exercises.
  • Certain advanced qigong techniques are quite demanding and are better suited for those with more experience.
  • While many qigong exercises can be beneficial during pregnancy, specific movements or meditation practices might not be advisable.
  • Those with severe psychiatric conditions, such as acute depression, psychosis, or dissociative disorders, should confer with their mental health specialist before diving into qigong.
  • Individuals battling acute illnesses or infections might need to adjust or forgo their qigong routine.

Approach qigong with an open yet discerning mind. Anticipating qigong to deliver magic, miracles, or esoteric achievements can lead you astray. Its focus is on harnessing natural energies, not the supernatural. To minimize misconceptions, seek to understand the true essence of qigong rather than getting swept up in the hype.


In light of the comprehensive research conducted by Find it Health, both tai chi and qigong champion patience, with rewards unfolding subtly over time. These modalities are ideal for those drawn to mindfulness, which allows one to remain present in the present moment. With their meditative essence, they promote reflection and radiate tranquility. By taking a holistic approach to health, they bridge body, mind, and spirit. 

It’s important to be consistent to reap long-term benefits. While tai chi and qigong present a bounty of advantages, always touch base with a healthcare expert before diving into any new fitness routine to ensure it aligns with your unique health profile.

Find It Health Editor in Chief Luz Chacon Health and Wellness Coach Giving You Advice

Luz Chacon

Luz Chacon is a Health Educator, Wellness Coach, and EFT Tapping Practitioner with 30+ years in health advocacy. Specializing in stress management, wellbeing, and holistic health, she created a 40% stress reduction employee program. Luz is dedicated to helping busy individuals prioritize self-care, break patterns, and reach goals. She offers programs for organizations and individuals. Luz is passionate about sharing her health research and guiding informed choices!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
small find it health logo browser icon


Luz Chacon Health Coaches at Find It Health and Stress Management and Natural Holistic Health Coaches