There is a belief that Tai Chi and Tai Chi Chuan are one and the same thing.

The difference between the two is Tai Chi is for health purposes and exercising and Tai Chi Chuan is for polishing fighting skills for defense purposes.

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Tai Chi

Tai Chi represents the opposite forces of yin and yang.

The yin and yang is black and white with an empty circle which depicts the emptiness before creation.

Before the exercise, a person is required to stand still and empty the mind to allow a connection between them, the sky, and the earth.

Tai Chi fighting technique is meant for health, exercise, and relaxation purposes.

It is self-paced, and non-competitive to achieve relaxation.

It may involve stretching, meditation or martial arts depending on your goal.

It improves mental, and physical health as well as strength and mood.


  • Fights stress
  • Improves body health and flexibility
  • Exercise for the muscles and joints


  • Long Tai Chi classes are tiring
  • Muscle discomfort when new to it
  • Difficult to recall all movements or beginners

Tai Chi Chuan

Tai Chi Chuan is Chinese for supreme ultimate fist. It is a martial arts technique for defense.

It applies the principles of Tai Chi.

It can be practiced for competitive wrestling.

The process allows one to be aware of back and forth changes from yin to yang through their fighting.


  • It is a less violent form of self defense
  • The movements involved exercise all the muscles
  • The more you practice the easier it becomes to do


  • High impact therefore immensely tiring
  • The high level of intensity makes it inappropriate for people with physical limitation
  • Takes a long time to master

Differences between Tai Chi and Tai Chi Chuan

There are 13 postures of Tai Chi namely peng/ward-off, Lu/roll-back, Chi/press, An/push, Tsai/pull-down, Lieh/split, Chou/elbow strike, Kao/shoulder strike.

Tai chi includes meditation which focuses on relieving stress, breathing, and awareness exercises.

For relaxation purposes there is application of a range of movements to loosen limbs.

Tai Chi Chuan focuses on movement to learn how to face an attacker.

One needs to be physically fit to engage the attacker. Striking techniques are taught too.

Tai Chi can be a solo routine while Tai Chi Chuan needs a partner at some point to practice effectively.

The exercises can be sensing work, partner drills, and martial applications.

Which is better – Tai Chi Vs Tai Chi Chuan

Tai Chi is better if you are looking to improve your physical and mental health.

It increases your awareness of what is causing you stress and tension to let it go.

The exercises improve your posture and coordination.

Tai Chi Chuan is better if you want to practice self-defense and gain fighting skills.

Working with a partner, you develop the responsive skills for fighting by moving with the force you come in contact with as opposed to against it.

It includes free-sparring by following the flow of the opponent and not blocking attacks.

Tai Chi is your choice if you want to improve your mental and physical health.

Having it in your weekly routine will help you to be conscious about your wellbeing and avoid aspects causing you stress.

Tai Chi Chuan is important because when you know you can defend yourself, you will have a more relaxed frame of mind.

For quick mastery of both, attend one to two weekly classes and practice at home.

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