Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Yoga are internal modalities used for the purpose of energy cultivation. This energy, if carefully discovered in the joints of the body and successfully moved thru the meridians can stimulate the organs and glands of the body to function better and secrete the proper enzymes leading to a better state of health. Yoga is popular with younger and middle aged people while tai chi and qi gong are popular with the older crowd.

What drew me to tai chi was the slow rhythmic dance like movements of the body. I was at a stage where I was looking for a soft martial art. My practice and teaching of karate no longer fulfilled my longing for some sort of spirituality. Without realizing it, thru my practice of karate, I had grown away from fighting and needed something more in my life. It was like I was being pulled away from the external art of karate and directed to follow a new and softer path into my own true nature. I had heard of chi, but knew nothing about developing it. For the purpose of this article chi, ki and prana are just different names for the same energy, magnetism or electricity that runs the universe. We are born with it, take it in with our food and breath and renew it while we sleep. There are many methods of discovering and cultivating this energy.

Most important is the ability to relax the body. That is why they are done very slowly. Relaxation enables the meridians thru which chi is moved to open up. The whole body must be relaxed from the top of the head to the tip of the toes. Standing meditation in various postures for long periods of time starts the process of the chi coming out of the joints and sinking to the center of gravity of the body. Once it starts to accumulate, it is moved around the body by a combination of the mind and either the tai chi, chi gong or yoga forms.

In my class of qi gong for senior citizens I stress long flowing movements done reputedly in a standing (not moving) position. Soon the chi starts to accumulate and is felt as a tingling or bubbly sensation in the body. First we teach the proper movements which are repeated over and over again while we remain relaxed and soft inside.

Over the years the whole psyche starts to open up. These are mind body exercises. The mind starts to calm. The body softens and relaxes. The chi circulates thru the entire body. Spirituality develops and the practioner starts down a new road leading to the discovery of the true self. Old emotions stored in the muscles surface and gradually fade away. Soon periods of total calmness infiltrate the practice and instead of you doing the form, the form does you. This is the way of the internal arts. They are a road inward, back to a state of universal consciousness. The intent moves the chi, the chi moves the body, and the mind focuses on the center of gravity. My instructor Lou Kleinsmith often said, ‘What more can there be’?