Can We Prove Qi (Chi) is Real?

Tag: chi kung

Qi (Chi) is the vital lifeforce energy which forms the basis for the practice of Qigong and Tai Chi exercises. Its quality, quantity, and movement throughout the body is the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Many cultures have their own representation of qi, for example, ki in Japan, prana in India, and mana in many Indigenous cultures. In the West, the term ‘biofield science’ is becoming an increasingly popular definition to represent all these different concepts. Yet in Western societies, the existence of qi remains disputed, even dismissed, despite there being a growing body of evidence of the benefits to people’s health and well-being from practices focused on qi. I see examples of this when talking about qi and its effects; some people are quite interested and attentive, and some people’s eyes glaze over in a mask of skepticism.

Why is there such reluctance to accept the existence of qi? My personal belief is that it comes down to one word: evidence. Much of Western society is based on the principle of, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” This is demonstrated in the Western medical model, which bases best practice on scientific evidence; that is, a thing can be observed, and/or its effects can be repeatedly observed and are not due to chance alone. There is much merit in this practice and it is the reason why many medical practices have proven useful and effective, and others have been discontinued for being at best shams, and at worst just wrong and potentially dangerous. However, there is also a risk in assuming that if the science cannot prove something ‘is’ (as opposed to proving it ‘is not’) then that thing isn’t real. If humanity had accepted that, we never would have continued looking for things like DNA or subatomic particles because the science of the day stated, “we cannot see these things, therefore they don’t exist.”

As I tell my students, part of the problem for qi is that I cannot stick a needle in your arm and extract the qi; I can’t take a blood sample and put it under a microscope and say, “look! There’s the qi!”. In fact, until recently much of the research on qi and qi practices like Qigong have only been able to provide evidence on the effects of these practices. For example, there is a great deal of published research showing evidence of Qigong practice reducing blood pressure1., improving sleep2., and boosting immunity3.. There are even studies that demonstrate direct affects on the body at the cellular level4,5..The evidence for the effects often comes from comparing Qigong practice to other forms of exercise, or what is termed “sham Qigong” – that is, performing the exercise without any thought or intent or even knowledge related to qi; this is often used to determine a ‘placebo effect’ – or to doing nothing at all. While this has been great in confirming and promoting the benefits of such practices for health and wellness, it does not necessarily confirm that the reason these things are so effective is because of their affect on the body’s qi. Consequently, while the effects cannot be denied, they are often attributed to some reason other than qi.

Fortunately there is research taking place that hopes to confirm and demonstrate the existence of qi. Much of it still relies on demonstrating the effects of the application of qi energy, that is, having a Master of Qigong direct their energy towards a given ‘target’, however this is different to the approach of examining techniques like Qigong, the rationale being that, in the absence of other interventions, it must be qi that is producing the observed phenomena. Some interesting examples include:

  • a study by Takaota and colleagues, who demonstrated that neutrophils show enhanced signalling and activity when exposed to a sealed saline solution that had qi energy applied to it, as opposed to untreated solution6.;
  • a similar study by Fukushima and colleagues, who demonstrated a similar affect on leukocytes exposed to a sealed saline solution that had qi energy applied to it, and this affect was stronger than the effect of exposing the sealed saline solution to microwave or infrared radiation7.;
  • a study by Chien and colleagues, who demonstrated that the qi emitted from a Qigong Master’s palm could both raise and lower air temperature, as well as increase or decrease fibroblast cell growth and DNA synthesis, and increase or decrease the respiration rate of sperm cells, depending on the Master’s desired effect8..

Practitioners of Tai Chi and Qigong who have experienced and connected with qi will soon tell you that qi is very real. We are probably still some distance away from having a level of evidence that is accepted by the scientific community, and from there the broader community, however I have no doubt that day is coming. In the meantime, you can do your own investigating by engaging in practices like Tai Chi and Qigong and seeing the effects they have on your own body. Keeping an open mind, and allowing yourself the opportunity to experience it first-hand might be all the evidence you need.


1. Ma, J., et. al. (2023). The effect of traditional Chinese exercises on blood pressure in patients with hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2023: 1-16.

2. Ko, L-H., et al. (2022). Effects of health qigong on sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 71:1-6.

3. Oh, B., et al. (2020). The effects of Tai Chi and Qigong on immune responses: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicines, 7(39): 1-21.

4. Jhaveri, A., et al. (2008). Therapeutic touch affects DNA synthesis and mineralization of human osteoblasts in culture. Journal of Orthopaedic Research, 26(11): 1541-46.

5. Yan, X., et al. (2006). External qi of Yan Xin Qigong differentially regulares the Akt and extracellular signal-regulared kinase pathways and is cytotoxic to cancer cells but not to normal cells. International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 38(12): 2102-13.

6. Kataoka, T., Sugiyama, N., and Matsumoto, M. (1997). Effects of Qi-gong vital energy on human neutrophils. Journal of International Society of Life Information Sciences, 15(1): 129-137.

7. Fukushima, M., et. al. (2001). Evidence of Qi-gong energy and its biological effect on the enhancement of the phagocytic activity of human polymorphonuclear leukocytes. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 29(1): 1- 16.

8. Chien, C-H., et. al. (1991). Effects of emitted bioenergy on biochemical functions of cells. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 19(3-4): 285-292.

Tag: chi kung

Wisconsin Tai Chi Academy is pleased to announce the opening of a new class in Whitewater, WI.

Commencing April 22nd, 2023, WTCA will be offering classes at the Whitewater Seniors Center at Starin Park, Whitewater. While this is a new class to Whitewater, it represents a transfer of the Evansville class to this new location. The relocation of the Evansville class is seen to have a number of benefits, including the ability to offer Beginners weekly rather than bi-weekly classes as well as being more accessible to people living in this region of Wisconsin.

“There has been a lot of interest from the public in having Tai Chi available in Whitewater and surrounding areas, and that, coupled with the great facility we’ve been able to secure, has been the main influence in our decision to move our Evansville class to Whitewater,” said WTCA’s Founder and Head Instructor, Ray Gates.

Registrations for the next term of classes for all locations including Whitewater are now open and details can be found on our Classes page.

Tag: chi kung

Let’s face it: being a student, especially at high school or tertiary level education, can be an extremely stressful time of life. Workloads, exams, and maintaining course requirements, in addition to the social and emotional pressures of being in a new environment and trying to maintain and enjoy a life both within and outside of school, places a tremendous amount of stress on a student, and maintains this stress for a significant amount of time. Long-term or chronic stress has been shown to have a detrimental affect on physical, mental and emotional health, and students who struggle to manage these stressors effectively often suffer from issues ranging from poor concentration and productivity, through sleep deprivation, weight gain, and poorer immune function, to more serious conditions such as anxiety, depression, and impaired social interactions. Managing these stressors and minimising their adverse affects are critical for a student to be successful not only in their studies but in their future life.

Tai Chi has been well researched as a means of promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety, and researchers have been examining whether Tai Chi could be specifically beneficial for high school and college students. Much of the research does suggest that Tai Chi can be beneficial in many ways, and at least one systematic review of these studies1. has demonstrated a high level of evidence supporting Tai Chi as a means of reducing stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as improved interpersonal sensitivity (such as coping skills) and flexibility. It also demonstrated significant moderate level evidence (termed “secondary benefits”) including decreased compulsive behaviour, somatization symptoms (focus on pain, weakness, shortness of breath, often linked with subsequent physical and mental disorders), hostility and symptoms of phobia. These benefits alone had the researchers calling for higher education institutions to consider including Tai Chi with their provided services as a means of promoting students’ physical and psychological well-being.

Other studies have focused on specific benefits, such as perceived stress, task attention, mood, sleep quality and self-esteem. For example, a study by Calwell and associates2. showed that increased mindfulness through the practice of Tai Chi accounted for changes in mood and perceived stress, which in turn improved sleep quality. A review of the literature will find numerous other studies supporting these benefits and others associated with health management, such as reduced blood pressure and improved immune function.

A summary of potential benefits Tai Chi can have for students is as follows:

  • improved mental acuity (eg: attention, focus, clarity of thought);
  • improved and more stable mood and interpersonal sensitivity;
  • improved general health and fitness;
  • better sleep quality;
  • decreased perceived stress;
  • decreased anxiety and depression.

With these benefits in mind, Tai Chi should be considered as an effective complimentary activity towards an overall successful study program. Students are one of many groups of people who can gain great benefits from practicing Tai Chi.


  1. Webster, et al. (2015). A systematic review of the health benefits of Tai Chi for students in higher education. Preventive Medicine Reports 3: 103-112.
  2. Caldwell, et al. (2010). Developing Mindfulness in College Students Through Movement-Based Courses: Effects on Self-Regulatory Self-Efficacy, Mood, Stress, and Sleep Quality. Journal of American College Health, 58(5): 433-422.

Wisconsin Tai Chi Academy offers a number of Tai Chi classes and has a Corporate and Community Qigong program to help more people access and enjoy the benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong.

Tag: chi kung

Wisconsin Tai Chi Academy strives to make Tai Chi and Qigong accessible to as many people as possible. While we always try to keep our fees as low as possible, in the current economic climate it can still be challenging for people to afford engaging in activities which are additional to their regular monthly expenses. To try and ease financial burden on people and continue to make Tai Chi affordable, WTCA is now able to take installment payments using Afterpay.

Afterpay offers the ability to split payments into 4 installments to make payments easier to manage. Payments are made via our secure Square site and details are provided upon request.

Afterpay may include its own fees or charges separate from your payment for using this service, and anyone using this service are advised to be sure they understand all the terms and conditions of Afterpay’s service prior to establishing a payment agreement with them.

Currently use of Afterpay is for class term fees, however WTCA plans to extend this to other services in due course. Information about our classes can be found here.

Want to know what Tai Chi is like? Come to one of our Come N Try Tai Chi events! We have events scheduled in Brookfield, Cedarburg and Glendale!

Can’t make it to any of our current locations? Let us know where you would like to see us start a new class.

Are you a community group or business that would like to offer Qigong to your members/community/employees? Check out our Corporate and Community Qigong program.

Tag: chi kung

The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts has hosted a space for Wisconsin Tai Chi Academy to hold Tai Chi classes since 2020. This was our first official class in the Greater Milwaukee area, and we now hold Beginner and Intermediate classes at their facility.

WTCA is helping Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts celebrate their 20 years of making the arts accessible to the Greater Milwaukee community by holding two Come N Try Tai Chi for Free sessions during their Summer celebrations. These sessions will be held on Saturday mornings on June 25 and July 2 at from 8am. Following these sessions, attendees can continue the celebration with coffee and live music from 9am.

More information about the Come N Try Tai Chi sessions and our upcoming new Term of Tai Chi classes can be found on our website.

Want to know what Tai Chi is like? Come to one of our Come N Try Tai Chi events! We have events scheduled in Brookfield, Cedarburg and Glendale!

Can’t make it to any of our current locations? Let us know where you would like to see us start a new class.

Are you a community group or business that would like to offer Qigong to your members/community/employees? Check out our Corporate and Community Qigong program.

Tag: chi kung

Wisconsin Tai Chi Academy is pleased to announce we will be opening a new class in Cedarburg.

The new class will be held at Faith Lutheran Church on Tuesday mornings from 10-11am. Details can be found on our Classes page.

For a limited time new students who pre-register will be eligible to receive a $20.00 discount on their term fees! Register now to receive details of this offer.

The Cedarburg class represents our fifth class as we continue to grow and make Tai Chi available to as many people as possible. We look forward to welcoming new students to our Cedarburg class.

Want to know what Tai Chi is like? Come to one of our Come N Try Tai Chi events! We have events scheduled in Brookfield, Cedarburg and Glendale!

Can’t make it to any of our current locations? Let us know where you would like to see us start a new class.

Are you a community group or business that would like to offer Qigong to your members/community/employees? Check out our Corporate and Community Qigong program.

Tag: chi kung

If there’s one thing I’ve often thought to myself in over 20 years of practicing Tai Chi, it’s: “why didn’t I start doing this 20 years earlier?”

The idea that Tai Chi is “just for old people” most likely evolved because it is often promoted as a safe, gentle and effective form of exercise, especially for those with age-related changes to their health: arthritis, impaired balance, decreased mobility; “old people”. While Tai Chi and Qigong have been proven to have great benefits and be effective for older people, the same can be said for people in all age groups. In fact, the benefits gained from practicing Tai Chi and Qigong from a younger age can help decrease the risk and/or severity of age-related health changes later in life.

Tai Chi is a martial art – taijiquan – and under proper instruction is as much a form of exercise as any other martial art. Though often (though not always) practiced slowly to focus on the internal aspects of the art, each form in Tai Chi still has self-defense application, and these can be applied to real-life encounters. Some styles of Tai Chi can be quite physically demanding; my Master often stated that traditionally instruction in certain Chen forms would not be commenced once a person reached middle age due to their physical demands.

Tai Chi and Qigong practice can offer people of all ages many benefits, including:

  • increased strength and flexibility;
  • improved balance, coordination, proprioception (awareness of body position) and spatial awareness (your body’s position in relation to your surroundings);
  • improved cardiopulmonary, neurological and immune system function;
  • enhanced mindfulness, attention, and concentration/focus;
  • encourages commitment, self-awareness and self-discipline.

We need to dispel the idea that Tai Chi is only for “old people” and therefore can or should only be practiced in the later stages of life. Tai Chi is not only suitable for people of all ages, it is one of the few forms of exercise that can be continuously practiced throughout the lifespan, and whose benefits later in life are only enhanced by commencing as early in life as possible.

Wisconsin Tai Chi Academy welcomes people of all ages who want to learn Tai Chi and Qigong. Find a class or come and try session at a location near you.

Tag: chi kung

Wisconsin Tai Chi Academy has just announced new Come N Try Tai Chi events for 2022!

Come N Try Tai Chi is a FREE one hour event that will give you an introduction to Tai Chi and Qigong. These events are open to the public – no prior experience necessary and open all age groups and abilities are welcome!

Summer events have been announced in Brookfield, Glendale and Cedarburg. Check out our Events page for more information.

Tag: chi kung

Tai Chi and Qigong practice are well known for their health and wellness benefits, yet they can only be of benefit to people if people can access quality instruction.

Despite what we would like to believe, accessing health and wellness services is not the same for all. Race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, socioeconomic status and other factors contributing to the diversity of our communities can have a profound, and often negative, impact on a person’s ability to find or participate in quality health and wellness programs. Consequently, the health and wellbeing of these communities is often significantly impaired when compared to the broader, “mainstream”, community. Worse, there is a misconception that these communities “could participate if they want to” yet for some reason “choose not to”, and so are to blame for their own poor health. In a system where racism, discrimination, exclusionism, and physical and mental trauma is not only prevalent but in some instances normalized, it is unreasonable to expect that people from diverse backgrounds would feel safe enough to participate in settings where they are very much the minority.

Researchers have demonstrated that Tai Chi and Qigong can have significant health benefits to people from low-income and ethnically diverse populations (see references below) when factors such as accessibility, socialization, and appropriate instruction/teaching are accounted for. At Wisconsin Tai Chi Academy, we believe that Tai Chi and Qigong should be available and accessible to all, as outlined in our ‘Tai Chi for All’ Inclusion Policy. More than that, we want to ensure that the benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong can be gained by all people who can benefit from them – that means everybody!

To that end, WTCA is actively seeking opportunities to bring Tai Chi and Qigong to diverse communities. At this time there are two main ways we are working to achieve this:

  1. we provide accessible, safe, friendly and welcoming class environments so people of all backgrounds can particiapte in learning Tai Chi and Qigong, and actively seek to achieve diversity amongst our student population. We want people of all cultures, races, ages, identities and abilities to join us and gain the physical, mental, emotional and social benefits of practicing Tai Chi and Qigong;
  2. we provide programs such as our Corporate and Community Qigong program to make Tai Chi and Qigong accessible to communities through existing groups and programs, and are actively seeking opportunities to work with diverse communities. Our aim is to reduce any barriers people may experience to attending a regular class by bringing Tai Chi and Qigong into communities in environments they feel are most appropriate for them.

More than that, we also call on other Tai Chi and Qigong instructors to actively work towards engaging diverse communities to participate in their classes and programs, by understanding and eliminating the barriers faced by these communities.

WTCA always welcomes suggestions on how we can provide more inclusive services and make Tai Chi and Qigong more accessible to more people. If you have an idea, or would like more information on attending one of our classes, or bringing Tai Chi and Qigong to your community, please contact us.

Tag: chi kung

Wisconsin Tai Chi Academy’s second term of the year commences in the first week of April and there are now four class locations to choose from. Our original classes in Evansville and Brookfield are now joined by classes in Glendale and the Waukesha side of Brookfield.

WTCA welcomes all new students of all ages and abilities to Tai Chi. To find a class near you see our Classes section.