What is Qi?

CHI

For so long we have referred to “qi,” without actually describing what qi is so that we all know what were are talking about. Lifeforce, energy and so on are words. Through experience we interpret them, but if you have no experience, defining qi becomes more elusive.

Qi is change. Not like “spare change” as in money, but shifts that occur in the position of the body, for example. In order to shift you probably need a shift in the mind. Perspective has to change. You need to discern more subtle positions of the body and the feeling of flow. Qi flows. One way to identify qi is to seek out places in the body that have nothing flowing through them. This understanding is achievable by everyone who tries, I believe.

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Developing a complementary art to taijiquan

Tai chi masters, old and young, traditionally have had practices other than martial arts. They often apply their skills to other forms of art. Calligraphy is one, of course. It is very common for a tai chi practitioner to express his qi through writing the characters. There are others too: musicianship, painting, tea mixing, dance, and so on. Susan Matthews, my friend and teacher, practices ballroom dancing. George Xu practices calligraphy and antique collecting.

As taiji is practiced more by more people across the world are developing their other art. One difference is that new artforms are evolving in response to our changing times and the demands of living in the current era. The trend of less common and emerging arts complemented by tai chi reflects what I see as the rediscovery or rebirth of a modern taiji.

In my case, I have played my guitar with a taiji mind. And more recently, I have been studying nutrition in my search to find the best foods to put in my body. This is an emerging application of taiji knowledge, one that brings these two complementary practices into play with each other. I talk about how this focus came to be on my website. I even have begun a business to help others with nutrition and overall health. I call it A Well Balanced Dream.

On and on it goes. I always tell people that tai chi is a complementary exercise that will enhance whatever you already do. You might swim, run, bike, hike, garden, rock climb, ski, golf, or play competitive sports, such as tennis, baseball, football, and basketball. Tai chi can enhance all of these and more. What is your art?