Why Tai Chi Is As Good For You As CrossFit

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If you haven’t seen it, there was a wonderful article in Time last week.

I keep saying that a revolution is brewing in the world of qigong and tai chi, and this article is yet another sign. I’m thrilled to see an article like this in such a big publication.

Click the link below to go straight to the article, or scroll down to see some excerpts, and to hear my thoughts.

(Note: don’t bother watching the video. There’s no tai chi in there.)

Why Tai Chi Is As Good For You As CrossFit

Here are my thoughts on this article, and the state of tai chi and qigong revolution…

Is it Really Tai Chi?

Whenever I see an article like this, the first thing I ask myself is as follows:

“Is it really tai chi they’re talking about?”

Often, when articles and research studies refer to tai chi, they’re actually referring to a mix of tai chi and qigong.

For example, when this article says that tai chi is as good as jogging for lowering the risk of death in men, it’s probably not just tai chi that they’re referring to.

If you look at the study itself (as I always do), there’s very little detail about the kind of tai chi used. There’s no mention of the style, the teacher, or the routines used.

After decades of looking at the fine print of research studies on tai chi, I’ve concluded that they’re usually referring to a mix of tai chi and qigong.

At the very least, the participants are using some qigong to “warm up” before doing a tai chi form.

So when you see “tai chi” in an article like this, think “tai chi + qigong”.

Is it Really As Good as CrossFit?

Whether they’re doing tai chi or qigong or both in these studies — is it fair to say that it’s as good as CrossFit?

Yes and no.

I’ve done a little CrossFit. Mandi, who is one of my certified qigong instructors, was a CrossFit trainer for years. We’ve had many conversations about the two arts over the years.

If your goal is to look good naked, then CrossFit is undoubtedly a better choice.

But if your goal is to improve fitness and endurance in the heart and lungs without intense workouts…

…or if your goal is to reduce arthritis pain

…or if your goal is to improve heart and kidney function

…or if you want some of the many health benefits mentioned in the 600 academic papers referenced in the The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi

..then tai chi and qigong are probably a better choice.

Mindfulness Magic

Another reason I’m thrilled about this article is because of quotes like this:

“But maybe the most compelling reason to give tai chi a shot is its ability to strengthen the connections between your mind and body, which can help you move through life with greater awareness and pleasure.”

We all know that mindfulness is all the rage right now. And that’s a good thing. Mindfulness is magic, and the world needs more of it.

When publications like Time talk about mindfulness and the mind-body connection — people listen. The research has been there for years now, but most people (and most doctors) tend to be 10-20 years behind the research.

An article like this may inspire people who otherwise might never think of tai chi to go give it a try. And that’s a good thing in my book.

Tai Chi vs. Yoga

Another quote that intrigued me was this one:

“Even with yoga, you can do it and have your mind be somewhere else,” Irwin says. “It’s very hard to do tai chi and not be present.”

I’m sure that yoga fans will disagree with this, and I think they may have a point.

Although I firmly believe that qigong will one day be bigger than yoga, people can ABSOLUTELY do tai chi without being present and aware.

The same goes for qigong.

Mindfulness has more to do with the teacher than the art.

For example, I’ve encountered literally thousands of students who had years of prior experience in qigong or tai chi but who had never been taught to apply mindfulness to these arts.

In my teaching of both qigong and tai chi, I emphasize the importance of mindfulness. Those who have learned from me know that entering into a meditative (or zen) state of mind is critical for both qigong and tai chi.

By doing this, you turn these arts into a flowing meditation.

In fact, you might even call them a flowing form of zen. Hey, that’s catchy! Flowing Zen…

Anyway, where was I? Oh right. Mindfulness!

If you want to get the most out of tai chi and qigong, then you need to learn how to bring your mind back to the present moment even while flowing through qigong and tai chi exercises.

This is called mindfulness.

Try “Tai Chi” Right Now

If you are brand new and you want to give “tai chi” a try, then click here for a free online course.

I put tai chi in quotes because you’re really learning a qigong exercise that is commonly found in tai chi called “Gathering Qi from the Cosmos”.

Whether it’s tai chi or qigong doesn’t matter. What matters is that the video and the guided audio will help you to experience the mindfulness benefits of these arts.

And when it comes to mindfulness, tai chi is undoubtedly better for you than CrossFit! 

Mindfully yours,
Sifu Anthony

I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. I’ve already taught thousands of people from all over the world to use qigong for their own stubborn health issues. I teach online courses, and also lead in-person retreats and workshops.

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13 Responses to Why Tai Chi Is As Good For You As CrossFit

  1. Ram May 3, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

    Nice read Sifu…..IMHO, I think you dont have to turn tai chi movements into a flowing meditation because there is something already flowing within us. It’s just that we need to connect ( yoke with it – also known as yoga ) and be aware of that flow within us through mindfulness or whatever the technique one uses.

    • Cindy May 3, 2017 at 4:23 pm #


      I find it interesting that you should say “…you don’t have to turn tai chi movents into a flowing meditation …” because that is exactly what it is and always has been. I believe your comment is best directed toward yoga, since it was mainly static, until somewhere along the line it became mobile, then hot [and sweaty], and now, also aerial. It appears a yoga practioner may have decided yoga needed a change.

  2. Ram May 3, 2017 at 7:59 pm #

    Thanks Sifu for your kind perspective.

  3. Beverley H. Kane, MD May 4, 2017 at 2:09 pm #

    Thanks for bringing this article to our attention from that prestigious peer-reviewed journal, Time Magazine.>:-} No, seriously, it is good food for thought. As you may remember, I teach Medical Tai Chi at Stanford, so named for the fact that we study the scientific literature on the health benefits of taiji and qigong. (Text book: the above-mentioned Harvard Guide by Wayne and Fuerst.) For the first time in 8 years, I have assigned a pop magazine article to the class. It brings up some principles we study about the methodology of doing taiji research–Western science vs. the Wayne-Katpchuk ba gua model. To test the premise of the Time article, you would conduct a study where one group did taiji and one group did cross fit and measure muscle strength and VO2 max, the latter being the gold standard measurement for aerobic fitness.

  4. Snezana May 5, 2017 at 6:28 am #

    Why talking about Tai Chi and Qigong as separate things? In my understanding Tai Chi IS (part of) Qigong, which is excersising and cultivating Qi. Just like Kungfu and other (martial) arts. It’s all about Qi and its utilisation and mastering, just different expressions and focus. Don’t you think?

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais May 5, 2017 at 8:24 am #

      Hi Snezana. Thanks for the comment.

      Why talk about tai chi and qigong as separate things? Because historically speaking and practically speaking, they are.

      I don’t think it’s accurate to say that taijiquan is part of qigong. Yes of course taijiquan should cultivate qi, and can thus be viewed as a form of qigong. But then is baguazhang also qigong? And xingyiquan? What about internal Shaolinquan?

      Many forms of qigong have nothing to do with martial arts. And many martial arts don’t cultivate qi (even if they pretend to).

      This is why it’s useful to separate between qigong and tai chi.

      This article may be of interest: http://flowingzen.com/7966/tai-chi-qi-gong-and-chai-tea/

      • Beverley H. Kane, MD May 5, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

        Aside from the historical traditions of tai chi, chai tea (love it!) and qigong, we are talking about these practices in the context of the Time article. The faster, harder, more martial forms of tai chi, such as Chen styles with a lot of fa jin, will produce results more like Crossfit than do slower, gentler qigong forms.

  5. David Whitham May 10, 2017 at 8:00 am #

    I agree with all you say Sifu, especially with regard to the Yoga, great article.

  6. John June 28, 2017 at 9:11 pm #

    CrossFit injures a Large percent of participants, too. That’s the secret truth about it. So overall, I agree with you. However , to claim tc and cq are better training for the heart and lungs … I have to ask how you could claim that…. there are So Many ways CF comes in second, but that claim …..oh boy…..

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais June 29, 2017 at 7:55 am #

      Hi John. I never claimed that tai chi and qigong are “better training for the heart and lungs”. Please read the article more carefully.

      • John June 30, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

        ah, I see you are correct. I turned something you said into something totally different, but related in a certain way. It’s like I was doing mainstream media “journalism”. Thank you for correcting me.

        • Sifu Anthony Korahais July 1, 2017 at 7:05 am #

          Well you don’t see that often. Good for you for being open to correction. I’d say that most people on the internet aren’t!

  7. John June 28, 2017 at 9:17 pm #

    Wait. I got it . If you train CF , get injured like a huge percentage, can no longer train, CF was not as good as the tc for your heart/lungs. agreed

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