Tai Chi & Qigong

Many people have experienced the mental and physical health benefits of practicing Qi Gong and Tai Chi, but unfortunately it can be difficult for some to find an instructor of these arts in their local area.  While it is always better to learn from an instructor in-person, many benefits can still be gained from practicing Tai Chi and Qigong by learning from videos or books. 

The good news, for those who do not have an instructor in their area, is that we have produced over 200 Tai Chi and Qigong instruction videos and have made them available on our YouTube Channel for free.  We also post new instruction videos on a regular basis, so you can continue your learning as you master the information from previous videos. 

Our goal is to make it possible for anyone to benefit from these arts regardless of where they live or what other resources they have available to them. On this page you will get an introduction to the art of Qi Gong and the art of Tai Chi, as well as an introduction to the instructor who is making all of this information available.

For those of you who are not sure what Qi Gong or Tai Chi are, read on.  

What is Qi Gong and Why Should I Practice it?

Qi Gong (sometimes spelled Qigong or Chi Kung and pronounced "Chee-Gong") originated in ancient China and has been used there for centuries to promote health, longevity, increased fighting skills, and mental clarity.  Many of its different forms were kept secret for most of its existence and were taught only to the upper class of society who could afford to pay for the training or was kept secret within monasteries and only taught to monks.

Qi Gong can roughly be translated to "Breath Work" or "Energy Work."  "Qi" can refer to the vital energy that is believed, by some, to be inherent in all things or it can refer simply to air (or "breath" in this context).  "Gong" refers to "work" or "effort".  Therefore, Qigong is a general term for many different forms of exercise that use various breathing methods and physical movements to balance the body, calm the mind, and increase the body's natural energy flow.  

Some forms of Qi Gong are done while seated, others while standing in stationary postures, and others involve movements that are matched with breathing and are designed to help improve coordination, balance, strength, and flexibility.  

Wikipedia describes it this way,
"Qigong (/ˈtʃiːˈɡɒŋ/),[1] qi gong, chi kung, or chi gung (simplified Chinese: 气功; traditional Chinese: 氣功; pinyin: qìgōng; Wade–Giles: chi gong; literally: "Life Energy Cultivation") is a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used in the belief that it promotes health, spirituality, and martial arts training.[2] With roots in Chinese medicine, philosophy, and martial arts, qigong is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance qi (chi), translated as "life energy".[3]

According to Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian philosophy, qigong allows access to higher realms of awareness, awakens one's "true nature", and helps develop human potential.[4]

Qigong practice typically involves moving meditation, coordinating slow flowing movement, deep rhythmic breathing, and calm meditative state of mind. Qigong is now practiced throughout China and worldwide for recreation, exercise and relaxation, preventive medicine and self-healing, alternative medicine, meditation and self-cultivation, and training for martial arts" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qigong)

(Shifu Plitt practicing the Tiger Qigong Set from the
"Five Animal Exercises Qigong" or "Wu Qin Xi Qigong")

What is Tai Chi and Why Should I Practice it?
Tai Chi Chuan (Sometimes spelled Taijiquan) is often seen as a slow-moving, flowing form of exercise and meditation, but many people do not know that the roots of Tai Chi grow deeper than this superficial appearance. 

Tai Chi Chuan originated in Chen Village (Chenjiagou) in the Henan province of China as a martial art (a system of combat).  It was created by a skilled military man, Chen Wangting, as a combination of many of the most effective fighting techniques of that time period and the philosophical concept of Tai Chi (Taiji).  Tai Chi Chuan (which roughly means "Tai Chi fighting style", but is usually shortened to "Tai Chi" for simplicity) was kept a closely guarded family secret for five generation of the Chen family before it was taught to someone who was not a member of the Chen family, Yang Luchan.  The Chen family's fighting style, today known as Chen Tai Chi Chuan, was an exceptionally effective fighting style and was practiced as if the lives of the practitioners depended on their skill in the art, because they very often did.

When Yang Luchan learned Tai Chi from the Chen family he was forbidden from teaching Chen Tai Chi to anyone.  He eventually went on to create his own Tai Chi style that is now known as Yang Tai Chi Chuan.  His level of martial skill was so advanced that he eventually earned the nickname, "Yang the Invincible".  However, after the invention of guns, many martial arts began to be look upon as obsolete and some people started focusing on the health benefits they received from practicing Tai Chi.  More and more Tai Chi was seen as a form of exercise and people stopped focusing on many of the martial aspects of the art.  

Today, there are many different styles of Tai Chi, some which place more emphasis on the health benefits of the art and others that place more emphasis on the traditional martial roots of the art.  Even within each of the styles a practitioner will find that each teacher places emphasis on different aspects of the art.  Tai Chi has become very well known all around the world for its many health benefits and is growing in popularity daily for that very reason.  

This ancient art is similar in many ways to Qigong and is fairly interchangeable when used purely for its health benefits.  However, Tai Chi often has deeper meanings to its movement sets than many forms of Qi Gong because there are fighting techniques hidden throughout each Tai Chi movement.  So you can use Tai Chi as a form of Qigong, or you can use it as both a martial art and a form of Qigong.  In that respect many people think of Tai Chi as more versatile than Qigong.

When you are choosing how you want to practice Tai Chi it is important to consider that if you train Tai Chi as a martial art you will still gain the health benefits in addition to the martial skills you will develop. If you practice Tai Chi only for health, the movements you learn can help you develop a better sense of your surroundings, will aid in building core and stabilizing muscle strength, and will teach principles that can potentially be used for self defense as well, but you will not be developing the martial concepts beyond a basic introductory level. 

Wikipedia describes this art in the following manner:
"Tai chi (taiji), short for T'ai chi ch'üan, or Taijiquan (pinyin: tàijíquán; 太极拳), is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits. The term taiji refers to a philosophy of the forces of yin and yang, related to the moves. Though originally conceived as a martial art, it is also typically practiced for a variety of other personal reasons: competitive wrestling in the format of pushing hands (tui shou), demonstration competitions and achieving greater longevity. As a result, a multitude of training forms exist, both traditional and modern, which correspond to those aims with differing emphasis. Some training forms of tàijíquán are especially known for being practiced with relatively slow movements.  Today, tai chi has spread worldwide. Most modern styles of tai chi trace their development to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu (Hao), Wu and Sun. All of the former, in turn, trace their historical origins to Chen Village." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_chi_chuan)

Who Teaches Your YouTube Videos and Why is he Qualified to Teach?
The instructor of our YouTube videos is Shifu Andrew Plitt.  He has been studying martial arts for over 18 years and has been trained extensively in China.  While training in China he earned the rank of 4th Duan in Traditional Chinese Martial Arts (TCMA) and an Advanced Level Coaching Certificate for TCMA.  Both certificates were issued by the Chinese Wushu International Development Center (CWIDC).  During his stay in China he won 5 Gold Medals in Local and International Martial Arts Tournaments.  He has a passion for helping people improve their health and feels that these arts are the perfect tools for people to do just that.  To find out more about Shifu Plitt visit our, "About Shifu Andrew Plitt" page.

Where Can You Learn from Shifu Plitt?
You can access our free instruction videos for both Tai Chi and Qigong by visiting our YouTube Channel: YouTube.com/AndrewPlitt

The best way to start is to go to our channel, then look under "Playlists".  Each playlist is a series of videos that teach either an entire Tai Chi movement set (a Tai Chi form) or an entire Qigong routine.  Just pick the playlist that sounds the most interesting to you and start watching.

A picture of Andrew and his Master 
practicing a Wudang sword form in China


Unknown said...

Hi Andrew,

First I would like to thank you for all the good content you upload in your Youtube channel, I really like your videos,and then I would like to ask you how I could combine for example, sitting meditation with Ba Duan Jin and Zhan Zhuang, what I should do first, etc. Thanks a lot for all the help you could give me.



Andrew Plitt said...

Hi Alberto,
Thank you for the comment. I am pleased to hear that you are enjoying the content on my YouTube channel. I apologize for the late reply, but your comment was sorted out with spam comments for some reason and I only came across it today. Typically Zhan Zhuang is the foundation of your training and it would probably be the one to schedule your other Qigong practices around. However, it depends on what you are hoping to accomplish with your training. If you simply want to improve your health, the Ba Duan Jin set would be a great one to do on a regular basis. If you are more interested in meditation and you spend a lot of time on physically demanding activities each day, the seating Qigong can be a great way to balance out the amount of physically strenuous activity you get every day with something more calming. Also, it is not necessary to practice a bunch of Qigong sets. if you are training for the health benefits of Qigong, it can be helpful to try several and see which one, or two, resonate with you then stick with that one.

I hope that answer helps and I wish you all the best in your training.

To Your Health,
Shifu Plitt