The practice of Chi-Kung combines breathing, movement and focused awareness. It was developed about 5,000 years ago and became integrated into Taoism, which evolved later as a Chinese philosophy. Tai-Chi was developed from Chi-Kung about 2,500 years ago, originally as a martial art. Today they are often practiced in combination together.
The practice of martial arts assists in strengthening the body and developing efficient posture, balance and coordination. Tai-Chi and Chi-Kung involve gentle flowing movements and breathing techniques, and their practice enhances flexibility throughout the body. They promote improved suppleness of the joints, along with elongation and strengthening of the muscles, thereby improving overall coordination, mobility and gracefulness of movement.
The practice of Tai-Chi and Chi-Kung facilitates the development of a clear, tranquil state, incorporating physical, mental and emotional focus and alertness. By directing the individual's focus inwards, the resulting state of inner calm provides a deepened state of self-awareness. At the same time, their practice encourage the correct use of energy, and hence they are often regarded as "meditation in movement". Regular practice can assist in easing physical and mental tension, thereby enabling a state of relaxation and reduced stress. They can also contribute significantly to improvement of physical and mental health, and thus to the overall development of the individual.
Tai-Chi incorporates flowing movement sequences that may be relatively simple, or more complex and intricate. Chi-Kung (sometimes called Qigong or Qi Gong) means "intensive work and skill", referring to the practice of coordinating breathing, physical activity, and mental awareness. It involves relatively simple and gentle exercises that include both standing postures and simple movement sequences.
Medical literature provides a growing data base suggesting that the practice of Tai-Chi Chi-Kung can contribute significantly to the overall improvement of health, and thus to the positive development of the individual.
For example, medical research findings indicate that the practice of Tai-Chi and Chi-Kung facilitates the improvement of physical and mental health. A comprehensive review of scientific literature shows positive outcomes for bone density, cardiopulmonary function, falls and related risk factors, immune function, among others. A recent review of medical literature indicates additional findings of health benefits of Chi-Kung.