Taiji Qigong – Supreme Ultimate Energy Work
Taiji Qigong (Tie Jee Chee Gung) is a type of movement practice for health and physical wellness. It has helped people from around the world to improve their health by lowering blood pressure, strengthening muscles, improving balance, helping functional flexibility, and improving overall wellbeing. Taiji directly translates as “great polarity” or “supreme ultimate”. The theory of Taiji is symbolized by the well know yin / yang symbol, that is often used to represent harmony and balance.
Qi, an important concept in Taiji Qigong, is often defined as vital force or energy. Gong, an important element of any practice, means work or study. Qigong is broadly defined as any work or study influencing the Qi within the human body. These studies would include acupuncture, herbology, Tui Na (Chinese massage), and all of the numerous Qigong exercises that have been developed over the centuries, including Taiji Qigong.
Taiji Qigong has borrowed Taiji philosophy but it is not the first art to do so. Taijiquan (Tie Jee Chew-On) was the first movement art to borrow Taiji’s principle and name. Translated, Taijiquan means, “supreme ultimate fist” or “great polarity boxing”. It is a martial art created around 1200 A.D. by the legendary Zhang, San-Feng. Although kept secret by the Chen family for many years various forms are now practiced throughout the world. Taiji Qigong practices originate from Taijiquan. Most people who are familiar with Taijiquan have observed the practice of Taijiquan form, which usually consists of a series of slow meditative movements. What many people are not familiar with are the other Taijiquan training methods that include the repetitive practice of individual postures, holding static postures, partner drills called push hands, and numerous other exercises. All of these are various forms of Taiji Qigong exercises.
These Taiji Qigong exercises originated by Taijiquan teachers over the millennia have often times been developed to help students cultivate specific aspects of their practice. They allow students to reap many of the same benefits as Taijiquan, but with the advantage that they are easier to learn and to follow. The hand and foot movements are often less complex, allowing the student to focus attention on feeling and directing Qi while achieving proper alignment and relaxation. Today, Taiji Qigong is often taught as a stand-alone practice. To gain the benefits of Taiji Qigong exercises a person should invest a minimum of fifteen to thirty minutes most days of the week. For enthusiasts looking for more benefit, it is advisable to build your practice gradually, and increase the duration and degree of difficulty over time.
Taiji Qigong is a marvelous art with numerous health benefits, a history that is steeped in mysticism, and deep-rooted philosophy that many students find fascinating. I have found that the reason I practice is for the joy and sheer sense of aliveness my Taiji Qigong practice brings me. If you have the opportunity to find a class in your area, remember to have fun and be sure to take note of the feeling of well-being that will develop as you explore this art!
T. J. Fritz, LMT, NCBTMB, Acupressure Practitioner, Taiji Qigong & Yang Style Taijiquan Instructor. T.J. has a private practice in Phoenix and teaches Taiji Qigong and Tui Na classes at ASIS Massage Education in Clarkdale, Prescott & Flagstaff Arizona.