Can a Christian do Tai-Chi?


What is Tai-Chi?

When most people think of Tai Chi they think of a group of old people doing slow meditative movements in a park, it has even earned the nick name 'old people sneaking up on tree'.


The history of Tai Chi  (aka Tai Chi Chuan, aka Taijiquan) is centuries old and has roots in traditions that date back at least 3 millennia. The principles on which the art is founded can be found in some of the earliest Chinese writings. Tai chi, as we know it today, initially gained fame in the 18th and 19th centuries as a powerful internal martial art.  In the 20th century, it also became known as a healing exercise.

Why do people today practice Tai Chi?

  • Health and healing. Tai Chi has many health benefits that will be discussed in the section below.
  • Reduce stress and anxiety.
  • It can be practiced at any age. Unlike most other forms of martial arts where old age starts to become a problem at some stage, Tai Chi can be practiced at any age and has been proven to be beneficial for the elderly. 
  • Self-defense. Although Tai Chi is mainly slow movements, it is a very powerful form of martial arts. It is however an advanced form of martial arts and most people do not practice it a the level required to be able to use it for self defense. It is mainly today done for health and relaxation.

Health Benefits of Tai Chi

Tai Chi is well known for its health benefits and healing power. Tai Chi and Qi-gong is used as part of Chinese medicine, The healing benefits are even well known (although not fully understood) in the west (science and modern medicine). Below are a couple of independent, well known medical sites, news sites and universities that reported on the health benefits of Tai Chi:

Tai-Chi is also known to be great for the treatment of mental disorders like depression, anxiety disorders, panic disorder and more.

Can a Christian do Tai-Chi?

There are of course a lot of Christians that has a problem with Tai-Chi as they claim it is part of an eastern religion. Then there are others that say you can do an alternative form of Tai Chi that focus only on the physical side but you should stay away from the meditation side – that is like drinking decaf coffee – what is the point?

Tai Chi is not a religion. Nothing is worshiped. Tai Chi is used by other religions like Buddhism and Taoism but is not a religion in itself.

What about the yin-yang symbol?


There are a lot of Christians that have a problem with this symbol as they incorrectly claim it represents good and evil. Yin-Yang represents two opposing forces, mutually dependent on one another and in perfect balance.

Example of Yin-Yang
  • Yin (female) – Yang (male)
  • Cold – Warm
  • Night – Day
  • Inhale - Exhale
  • etc.
Yin and Yang is not something evil or demonic, it is part of the creation of God (who made male and female, night and day, etc) - the Chinese only came up with a cool name and symbol for it.

This idea of opposing forces in movement is everywhere around us – from large planets orbiting one another to small atoms (negative electrons and positive protons).

In Tai-Chi, Yin and Yang is simply a combination of movements: Accept and divert the attackers force (Yin) - move forward and attack (Yang).

The only place you will read about good and evil in yin and yang is in articles written by 'Christians' who see everything as evil and demonic and have no clue what they are talking about. 

What about the meditation and qi (chi)?

I wrote a seperate article on qi and meditation - read What did Jesus taught about qi (chi)?

In Conclusion

Tai Chi is a good way to improve your health and reduce stress no matter what your age is. If you are looking for an instructor, try to find one that will cover all aspects of Tai-Chi, not just the self defense.

If there aren't any instructors or schools close to you, you could teach yourself by getting hold of a Tai Chi book (you might need to shop around for a good one). It will be difficult figuring out the form just from books - this link is a list of youtube videos that explain the Tai Chi 24 form step by step.  ... or, if you are up for a challenge, you could learn the Traditional Yang Style Long Form from David-Dorien Ross in his 100 Days of Tai Chi series.

Tai-Chi will not be for everyone. There are obviously many other ways you can relax, exercise and improve your health.

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Comments

  1. Thank you. I think there is a tendency for western Christians to suspect any foreign, especially Eastern, word of being anti-Biblical.
    And I wonder why breathing while moving is suspicious to some - having done singing, dance, and weightlifting, I know that controlling one's breathing is essential to success. Your brief Bible study on this is helpful.
    That said, I've come across a few Tai Chi dvds that were quite New Agey in approach, usually done by westerners. I think a lot depends upon the instructor. Happily, I've found a couple of dvds that focus on the forms and breathing.

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  2. I believe that tai chi is pretty much secular. You might wish to check out this article:

    http://www.cabinnotes.net/taichichristianity.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for your comment and sorry for my late reply. If by 'secular' you mean it is not a religion - then yes, I agree, Tai-Chi is not a religion. If you mean it has nothing to do with spirituality and therefor this article should not be on a blog about faith and spirituality - then I do not agree. I do not compartmentalize my life into religion and secular. Everything in my life has to do with God as the Kingdom of God is inside us and around us (Gospel of Thomas, saying 3). Our bodies are the temple of God - so looking after our bodies has to do with our spirituality. Health was clearly important to Jesus as He was very busy healing people and showing us how our faith can also impact our health. It is not just my health and body that I believe is linked to my spirituality and God - but everything I do. When I am busy working as a programmer I am working for God (Col. 3:23-24). How I treat my wife, my daughter, friends and those of other religions - it all has to do with what Jesus taught us and what I believe God expects of me. In fact, I believe it is religion that is secular (more commercial/business than spiritual - see my article http://www.faithreloaded.org/2017/12/spiritual-but-not-religious.html)

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  4. Here is a link to an article that discusses how tai chi is compatible with being Christian: http://www.cabinnotes.net/taichichristianity.html
    If we envision Christianity throughout the world in the future, I think we would see it mixed with attributes of many cultures. It would be ethnocentric perhaps racist to imagine otherwise. On the other hand, we western Christians have much to benefit, particularly health wise from places such as China and India. What needs to be worked out is a process that embraces the good and rejects that which would violate the First Commandment. When Christians attack tai chi, if tai chi is secular, the attack may be perceived as prejudice and hamper Christianity’s success in East Asian countries at a time when China will soon have the largest population of Christians of any country in the world.

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