Learning TCM and Culture


As a western student of Taijiquan (T'ai Chi) or Qigong, delving deeper into the study of Chinese medicine and culture can greatly enhance your understanding and practice of these ancient arts. After studying Taiji for many years, I found that my personal collection of books consisted of more TCM, Daoism, acupuncture, and cultural titles than ones specializing in Taiji and Qigong. My visits to China, even when those did not involve training, taught me much about their culture...which in turn made me understand my Taiji better. When I had training sessions in China, my instructor would often refer to acupoints and meridians when correcting my postures.

The early masters from China did not have books or videos in which to learn their craft. Many were doctors, calligraphers, herbalists, farmers, scholars, etc. They understood yin/yang, acupoints, fengshui, and the concept of Qi (pronounced "chee") because those items are part of their culture. For western students, those concepts are often more difficult to understand than the movements and postures themselves, and without that knowledge, their skills are limited.

Chinese medicine, also known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is a holistic system of healing that has been used for over 2,000 years in China. It is based on the concept of Qi, which is believed to be the vital energy that flows through all living things. TCM practitioners believe that illness and disease occur when the flow of Qi is disrupted or blocked.acpuncture illustration

One of the key principles of TCM is the concept of Yin and Yang. This principle states that everything in the universe is made up of two opposite, yet complementary, forces: Yin and Yang. These forces are constantly interacting and influencing each other, and it is believed that maintaining balance between them is essential for good health.

Taiji and Qigong are also based on the principles of "Qi" and "Yin and Yang". These practices involve slow, flowing movements and deep breathing, which are believed to help regulate the flow of Qi and balance the body. By studying TCM, you can gain a deeper understanding of the principles and concepts that underlie these practices, which can help you improve your Taiji and Qigong practice.

Additionally, studying Chinese culture can also provide valuable insights into the history and philosophy of Taiji and Qigong. These practices have their roots in ancient Chinese culture and are closely tied to Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist and Confucian philosophy. Understanding these influences can help you better appreciate the deeper meaning and significance of the movements and techniques you are learning.

Furthermore, studying Chinese culture can also help you understand the cultural context in which Taiji and Qigong were developed. This can help you understand how these practices were traditionally used and can give you a deeper appreciation for the ways in which they have evolved over time.

By gaining a deeper understanding of the principles and concepts that underlie these practices, and by understanding the cultural context in which they were developed, you can develop a more holistic and meaningful practice. Furthermore, it can open up new perspectives and understanding of the culture and history of China, which can broaden your perspective in life.