The Form is a Workout, June 9 2014

I found an interesting remark on respected internal arts commentator Mike Sigman’s blog page ‘Internal Strength’ ( recently, which I tend to agree with. He says that many people think that a qigong (and any good Asian martial-art which is based on qigong principles like tai chi) is a series of movements which somehow imbue benefits just from ‘doing’ the sequence of postures.  You get the impression, for example, that many think the ‘magic’ of a Taiji form is in the sequence and choreography.  You even hear of people who think that somehow just by doing the form in a slow, relaxed way they will get the ‘Qi’ necessary for martial arts.

In actuality, the benefits come from how the body is managed during the performance of the sequence.  In other words, a qigong, a Taiji form, etc., is a type of workout regimen in which the body is moved and conditioned in specific ways. The fact that the actual workout part is difficult to see has led many people to focus on the choreography and to miss what is really going on in qigong-related exercises and martial-arts. 

The ‘workout’ we learnt under Master Chu King hung, for example, included building in Yang Cheng Fu’s Ten Important points, the Six Coordinations (Liu He), and three revisions of the form to bring out the spiral qi – the yin/yang form, the open/close form and the centre-move form and there was more. All this took quite a while to learn and then you had to take it all away and use the form as a tool to condition all these principles into the body - to embody them. If you did not do the practice you did not get the power (jin) the training could bestow.

So the fact that people only ‘see’ the beautiful choreographed movements and mimic them, and the paucity of instructors around that have been trained in the deeper principles of the authentic art is an explanation for the proliferation of the superficial form of ‘popular’ taiji. Some call it pseudo-Tai Chi!

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