Q. Some people say that Taiji is a "gentle New Age dance" that has nothing to do with martial arts. Is that true?
A. Taiji is a philosophy associated with the concept of Yin and Yang and dates back to the I Ching and the Tao De Ching. If we talk about the art of Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan), we are talking about a martial art that dates back at least several centuries. It's not correct to call either "new" or to imply that they are the latest fad. Many people call the art of Taijiquan, Taiji as nickname. Some people teach or perform Taiji as a kind of dance, but performing it without an understanding of its martial art and Qigong roots leaves out much of the essence of the art. At Qi Elements we teach and practice Taijiquan with both its martial and Qigong essence.
Q. Since Qi Elements teaches and practices Taijiquan as a martial art, does that mean I have to break boards, engage in sparring, get knocked down, risk injury, etc. to gain the benefits of learning and practicing it?
A. One can obtain the benefits of Taiji practice by performing solo Taiji and Qigong movements and gentle partner exercises. One does, however, have to bear in mind the martial principles of rooting, centering, balance, and mind-intent while practicing. Mind-intent means that movements are carried out with a feeling of purpose and strength but this is the strength of internal energy and will, not muscular force.
Our Taijiquan program does not require the strikes and falls associated with "hard-style" martial arts. Properly executed Taijiquan strikes are very powerful. Our strikes are limited to padded targets, our heavy stricking bag and our BOBs (Body Opponent Bags). All of our Taijiquan classes do involve physical contact with other students.
Q, What is the difference between Tai Chi and Taiji?
A. If we were communicating in Chinese, there would be no difference because the Romanized letters above are just two different ways of transliterating the Chinese characters. Taiji is the pinyin transliteration standard in China, Tai Chi is an older form of transliteration.
Q: Is it true that Taiji and Qigong are beneficial for preventing and healing many illnesses?
A: Yes, absolutely. More and more students are coming to us on the recommendation of physicians. The best way to find out if medical research has documented Taiji or Qigong as beneficial for an illness you are concerned about is to ask your primary care physician, search the Internet, or seek the aid of the local library. Qi Elements teaches Qigong routines for the health of spine and chest, heart and lungs, kidneys, and the body as a whole, in addition to Qigong for prevention of breast cancer and healing of arthritis. If you have questions, call or email us.
Q. If I learn Taijiquan, will I be able to use it for self-defense?
A. In large part, that depends on you. Learning Taijiquan to develop self-defense or fighting skill takes longer than with some other martial arts, but on the other hand, it will last you longer because it depends less on the qualities of youth (speed and strength) and more on the use of the scientific principles of Taijiquan, including understanding and executing the powers of Yin and Yang, and on training the body to move as one integrated unit.
Q.Does learning and practicing Taijiquan or Qigong involve practicing Eastern religion?
A. Taijiquan and Qigong were practiced in Taoist and Buddhist monasteries in ancient China. Taoism began as a philosophy that centuries later developed a religious offshoot. Taijiquan's roots trace back to the Taoist philosophy and to military strategists such as Sun Tsu. Thus Taijiquan is not a religion, though it was practiced by religious people. Some Qigong practices originated in the monasteries as the monks searched for ways to improve health, increase strength, and achieve "enlightenment." Other Qigong practices, including meditation to improve the mind and improve one's understanding and acceptance of the world, were developed and practiced by Chinese scholars such as Confucius. Chinese military leaders created Qigong to strengthen their soldiers; and Chinese doctors created and taught Qigong to improve people's health. Qi Elements welcomes people of all and no religions, but if you are looking for instruction in Taoist or Buddhist religion, we are neither inclined nor qualified to provide it.