Tai Chi Healing and Tai Chi Health
By Master Chong Kwok, Beijing:

Master Chong Kwok is a master of Tai Chi and also one of the leading teachers of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Beijing teaching hospital. He has been practicing Tai Chi for forty years and has been a doctor of acupuncture for much longer.

Tai Chi Health: Healing

When we say that Tai Chi is able to heal disease, it is not quite correct to say this. Actually it is the body itself that heals itself and it is Taijiquan that assists this healing.

Tai Chi Health: Channels

Everyone has channels around the body and through these channels flows the Qi. This can be said to be like the blood, if the blood is impeded in any way then we become ill and it is also this way with the Qi. The Qi, if impeded in any way cannot flow to the internal organs to give energy to the organs. All organs need this energy to survive and to heal tissue that has been in some way damaged by incorrect habits or by attack from outside by micro-organisms.

Tai Chi Health: Physical

On a physical level, the Qi is able to help the body's own immune system to fight off disease. Also, if the channels through which the Qi travels are damaged or restricted in any way then the flow of Qi to the internal organs will also be impeded. We get restrictions of the channels from tension. This tension can be from without or from within. From without, we have physical tension, which is brought about by the continual tensing of muscles when they need not be tensed. For instance, when we are driving a motor vehicle, we might grab the steering wheel too tightly because we are driving in thick traffic. Our shoulder muscles sometimes are tensed because of external things that happen to us. It is not actually the muscles themselves that cause the tension. In our shoulders there are very important acupuncture points which relate directly to the colon and to the gall bladder. If we are not eating too well then any tension will show itself in these areas of the shoulders, so if we are able to fix our habits which are causing the colon and the gall bladder to be ill, then the small amount of external tension throughout our day will not have the same effect upon our shoulders and neck.

Tai Chi Health: The Mind

The other way to receive tension is from within, from the mind itself, through wrong thought habits. How many times have you had some bad thing happen to you in the morning and it has put your whole day into chaos. This is where the internal tension happens and it is because of our own mind. What I say to my patients is to look around you and see what is happening, are you well right now, are you happy right now, have you enough food right now, is your family well right now. And if the answer is yes, then, you are OK. And you should not worry about what had happened to you in the morning.

Tai Chi Health: Where it Comes In

Where does Tai Chi Health come into this? Tai Chi helps our body to heal itself in two ways, an indirect way and a direct way. The indirect way is just as important as the direct way. As I have already stated, the channels through which the Qi is able to flow must be clear of any blockages caused from tension. It is the job of Taijiquan to help the whole body to relax and in so doing, causes the Qi channels to be clear. The direct way that Taijiquan helps to heal the internal organs is to act directly upon each organ in turn. It does this by directing the flow of Qi to specific organs but the channels must be free before this can happen. Therefore it is very important to practice your Taijiquan well before you will be able to direct your Qi to certain organs for healing. The Qi will not be able to flow freely to the particular organs if the channels are not open or impeded.

Tai Chi Health: Qi

Men of acupuncture invented Tai Chi and they know that every movement that the body makes, sends the Qi to certain areas of the body. To be sent to these areas, the Qi must flow through certain channels. These channels are also associated with all of the internal organs and therefore, in travelling through these channels, the Qi is taken to all of the major internal organs.

Tai Chi was invented with all of the channels and the flow of Qi in mind but one must remember that Tai Chi was firstly invented as a martial art for self defence and the acupuncture channels were used for hurting and not for healing, it was not until people began to find that Tai Chi made them feel better that the great acupuncturists of the time began to look at Taijiquan and why it made people feel better. Now we have a very deadly way of self defence used for healing the body and successive generations of Taijiquan masters have added to the Taijiquan movements to further the flow of energy to the organs. Taijiquan is still a deadly self-defence quan but now it is also a great healing art.

Tai Chi Health: Practice

It is very important to practice a correct form of Tai Chi, otherwise you will not be able to make the Qi flow to all of the internal organs. Another important point to make is that, although every movement a person makes, sends the Qi to certain areas, it is only Taijiquan that sends the Qi through the channels in the correct order. In a whole day the Qi will flow once around the whole channel matrix and therefore it is important that we try to make the flow of energy in our daily practice to be the same as this daily flow. Otherwise we will create internal tension by trying to send the Qi through the wrong channels. It would be like trying to all of sudden change the direction of the water flow in a fast flowing river, a great deal of energy would be expended in trying to divert the river, but if we were to rather make the river bend and turn it back then the flow would not be impeded by our trying. It is exactly this that the Taijiquan form tries to do, every movement has been put there in that certain order so that the Qi will be redirected gently through each channel and not turned backwards all of a sudden causing internal tension thus doing the reverse of what we are trying to do.

Tai Chi Health: Internal Flow

Some people now have tried to shorten the classical Tai Chi forms and in doing so have made an art that used to be great for healing something that is now not too good at all. I have seen some forms of Tai Chi here in China that leave out many of the important repeated movements to try and make it easier for people to do but in doing so the forms have been made almost useless in the internal area of healing. We are not concerned with only external exercise when we perform the Taijiquan movements, we are concerned with the internal flow of Qi to the internal organs.