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Tai Chi: What is Chi?

Barry Brownstein, a tai chi expert who has practiced and taught since 1977, discusses the nature of “chi” and provides a short demonstration of how to feel it. While the existence of chi is controversial in the West, many Eastern disciplines including tai chi and acupuncture are based on a fundamental belief in this basic “life energy” force. It is thought to pervade the universe, and to be subject to direction and control by trained human beings. Visit Barry’s website for more information.

Music: “Misty Mountain Valley” by George Bolger |

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Video Transcription: Tai Chi: What is Chi?

So chi, people have heard about chi in energy, but have you ever felt chi? Let’s do a “Karate Kid” exercise to see if you can actually feel this and take it out of the theoretical realm. Okay take your hands, rub them together. Get them as hot as you can get them, hot, hot, hot. Alright, put your hands about shoulder-width apart, belly button level, point your palm points right at each other. Activate your imagination. Imagine you can feel a stick between your palms right now. While you have that heightened sense of awareness on your palms, slowly and smoothly move one hand forward, one hand backward and do that smoothly. Then, go back to the center and go the opposite way, the other one forward, the other one backward. Good. Keep your awareness on your palms. Go back to the center again. Slowly move one palm up one palm down. Go back to the center; keep imagining you feel something in your palms. And then opposite, other one up other one down. Good, slowly go back to the center. At the center slowly, slowly, slowly, move your palms towards each other. Slowly, slowly move your palms away from each other little bit more, good. Then again, slowly move back.
Do you feel something on your palms? That is the tactile sensation of chi and this is what we do when we practice the tai chi movement is move the chi around us and inside of us. So that’s a fundamental exercise to actually feel your chi and know that it’s not theoretical and when we do acupuncture needles, we insert the needle, we’re not looking for muscles. We’re not looking for nerves. We’re looking for the chi at the tip of the needle, and when you regulate that chi back to the middle. If it’s too low we bring it up, if it’s too high we bring it down. When you’re in the middle, things are good. So, tai chi is the individual’s exercise to help promote the full and free chi flow in the human.