Should you learn Qi Gong in China? Or Tai Chi? Or go somewhere else?

I have to confess that I would LOVE to learn Qi Gong in China, or Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan). And a lot of people actually ask me if I’ve been there. Well, I’ve been to China, but that was BEFORE I started practicing these arts.

Right now, I cannot travel extensively for Taijiquan and Qi Gong. But I am definitely thinking about it and want to do it in the future. And though it may seem obvious to wanting to travel to China, I think there are other interesting places to go. Like learning from Qi Gong masters in New York or Tai Chi masters in San Francisco would be awesome!

So I thought about all the reasons why one should learn Qi Gong in China. Or if one should rather search a Tai Chi school somewhere else in the world. Here are the pro’s and con’s:

Why one should learn Qi Gong in China (or Tai Chi)

  • If you’re really into it and have the time, why not go there for a couple of months? Or even years? I think such a trip is a really great opportunity to experience a foreign culture. Not just with Qi Gong and Tai Chi, but with everything: food, culture, celebrations etc.
  • You want to learn Chinese. If you want to get deeper into the language, a longer stay in a Chinese-speaking country is surely a great thing to consider.
  • I assume that as a Qi Gong and/or Tai Chi teacher, it is really cool and beneficial marketing-wise to say “I learnt this in China”. But I warn you: knowing the fanciest moves from China does not necessarily make you a good teacher.

Why one does’nt need to learn Tai Chi in China (or Qi Gong)

  • There are many great Tai Chi schools or Qi Gong masters in the West. During the Cultural Revolution, many Chinese people had to leave China. Just look at the Chinatowns all over the world. You’ll find great Tai Chi classes there. But even in other places, there are also Western teachers who have a very profound knowledge and great skills.
  • Traveling to China is quite expensive. I would rather spend my money on several trips to a master somehwere close to me than spending all the money for a once-in-a-lifetime-trip to China. I think one just learns more from continuously visiting the same teacher. And if you’re really lucky you might actually have a fantastic teacher close to you. To learn Tai Chi at home is great because you can create the habit of going to classes regularly. And obviously all your questions will be answered almost immediately instead of waiting for the trip to your master – next year. I think that is particularly important if you are a Tai Chi beginner.
  • The language barrier. I mean, do you speak Chinese? Learning outside China makes it easier to learn from someone who speaks English (or your native language). Or at least you’ll most likely have a translator for the group. Even if you learn it outside of China, you will still be confronted with many Chinese words and terms – if you are interested learning more about them, have a look at The Taijiquan & Qi Gong Dictionary*!

Now what do you think? Are you dreaming about going to China? Or do you think that there is really a lot to learn in the West?

Happy Qi!


P.S.: If you want to travel for Taijiquan and Qi Gong, have a look at the big international events in 2020! I think those are a great opportunity to get to know many different teachers and get recommendations from other enthusiasts.


  • Interesting read! I posted a similar question to a linkedin group were most of the members had already been to see various masters. Despite this, a few were very keen to dissuade me from considering this. Most were saying that there are plenty of great teachers where I am (the had incorrectly assumed I was based in the USA). Thank you for you balanced posted that helps me consider the realities of going to China.

  • Hi Steph,
    I think we live in a wonderful time, because there are really great teachers all over the world! And of course going to the birth-country China is very intrigueing and definitely a goal for many Westeners.

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