# A glowing ball of light above my head??? QiGong and Tai Chi

I am thinking of getting into Tai Chi and picked up The Complete Idiots Guide to Tai Chi and QiGong and have a question or two.

1)What is the deal with the glowing ball I am supposed to envision above my head? Is that strictly to project a focal point or is there something else to it?

2)IANA physicist but I my first reaction was to call BS when reading that QiGong can expand the space in atoms in my body. Huh?

3)If I avoid all this stuff and just use Tai Chi as a low impact activity (which is what I need atm for reasons I won’t explain here), will I be limiting the full effect of this activity?

4)A comment was made that Tai Chi was shown to prevent disease, but cited no study but rather mentioned that a university checked it out and found… How does one show that something prevented disease? Is this the same as me saying that I have an enchanted toilet that keeps bears away from my house? I have no doubt that this form of exercise is beneficial but I am not buying the extent stated.

The combination of mentally relaxing while going through some motions appeals to me but…

Yes, this is bullshit. I’m not even sure what that’s supposed to mean. If they mean the exercise can make the atoms in your body move farther apart, well, I suppose technically that’s true, since exercise slightly increases your body temperature and therefore causes it to expand ever so slightly. But I don’t think this is what they mean.

One can demonstrate a statistical correlation. For example, if we know that 10% of people will get a cold within a 6-month period, but our study of Tai-Chi only 5% of participants got a cold within that same time period, we can say that there is a statistically significant correlation. However, this study must be replicable to have any real meaning. If other attempts to replicate our study show that about 10% of subjects get colds, just like in the general population, then our data is most probably invalid. We can never prove that X prevents Y, but we can demonstrate it’s true to a high degree of probability, which is generally good enough for science.

That’s what I thought. The study would have to then be between people doing Tai Chi and people who are doing some other sort of low impact exercise in order to determine if it was Tai Chi and not the activity that “prevented” the infection?

I could not find any reference to a specific study which always makes me a little suspicious.

Exactly. Along with whatever other controls would be needed to rule out other factors, such as diet, medical history, age, etc.

I am not too sure, but could it just be a symbol of divinty/peace/enlightment that you are supposed to feel? You know, enlightenment is usually portrayed as a ball of fire/illumination in the Eastern cultures.

Bullshit

In my experience with internal martial arts, there are three groups of people: those who believe in glowing balls of energy, those who don’t believe in glowing balls of energy but use them to their advantage, and those who don’t believe and are dismissive and patronizing. The first group is harmlessly deluded (IMO). The third group should go play softball. You want to be in the second group. Don’t buy into all the mysticism, but use it for what it is - a teaching and visualization aid. When my sifu would tell me to ground my energy, what he really meant was to shift my focus (both mental and physical) to my stance. When he told me to move the chi through my arms, he meant to move my focus there. If you visualize energy flowing through your body from one place to another, you end up doing the techniques properly. If you ignore these visualizations as claptrap, you’re missing out.

And yes, my sifu would agree with what I just wrote. He didn’t buy the BS either, but it was a convenient description. If you eavesdropped on our training, you might think we were a bunch of newage morons, but it’s really just a training aid no different from visualizations done by other athletes.

By the way, I would urge you to seek out a decent instructor rather than trying to learn from a book. There are a lot of subtleties in Tai Chi and a book can only teach you the basic gross movements. Doing from a book is better than nothing I suppose, but having a decent teacher will make a world of difference in how well you do the forms and how much you gain from it. Books can’t teach you the smooth transitions and fluidity that make Tai Chi what it is.

That makes sense but there is no class anywhere near me

I will just have to bother dopers for help. I can take a video of myself, post it on the net, and have others critique it. Some criticisms might even have to do with Tai Chi

That’s really a distant second. From my limited experience, Qi Gong appears to be significantly less focused on getting the stances absolutely perfect and more on focus/meditation/repetition. Tai Chi, again FME, is about getting all ten million aspects perfect.

I highly recommend that you take the first few classes with someone (no matter how far you’ll have to drive) and then stop by every couple of months or so to get “checked up on.” Once you learn what to look for, I think reviewing videotapes of yourself will be extremely helpful.

That said, if doing the Tai Chi all by yourself is fun and works for your purposes, there’s no reason not to go. In that case, I’d highly recommend getting a video instead of (rather in addition to) reading the book.