You often hear the phrase “the next big thing in wellness” which often refers to groundbreaking new wellness practices being labelled as the ‘latest-craze’. T’ai Chi is definitely making a name for itself, however, it’s been pretty big for millennia in the East and is the ‘grand daddy’ of all martial arts, forming the practical, theoretical and spiritual foundation upon which kung fu, wing chung and so forth have evolved and developed. When really analysed, every martial style emanates from T’ai Chi.

The original ancient T’ai Chi Qigong exercises were designed for martial (military) artists to perfect the skills, balance and power needed for swordsmanship. Over the centuries many different styles have flourished incorporating mindfulness and medicinal approaches to the use of Qigong for overall health and wellness. All forms of T’ai Chi have the original exercises as their basis and all forms of Tai Chi share the tradition of slow, repetitive, graceful movements as the basis upon which strength and flexibility of body, mind and spirit can flourish.

So why the current surge in popularity? Jason Riddington, Actor, T’ai Chi expert and Author of brand new book Life, Death, T’ai Chi and Me, shares everything you need to know about it. 

I think predominantly it’s because people want a practice that is mindful, peaceful, non-competitive, non-combative (in spite of its martial origins) but that is ‘doable’ no matter your age, strength or level of flexibility (the movements are set, how dynamic you make them is dependent upon your strength and flexibility). Therefore people aren’t put off by feeling unable to do it. And the benefits to mind, body and spirit are felt instantly. There is also a wonderful sense of collective peace and wellness when a group of people are practising Tai Chi together which makes being a dedicated member of the class very pleasurable and rewarding. 

A Peaceful, Mindful Martial Art Pastime

The health benefits are extraordinary. When you watch someone doing T’ai Chi you’ll probably just catch a few slow movements that look easy-peasy! But, if you do it, if you experience it, the cumulative flow of it, you will have a different perspective. This is what it’s like: there’s this flow of a powerful thick liquid in which you gracefully push and pull and lunge and extend again and again and again and it’s this cumulative effect of this form of martial art that makes it so deceptively rigorous and effective. It’s shockingly tough! Add to that the breathing and the visualisation of your Qi energy burning like fireballs in the palms of your hands and then you will begin to understand why so many are devoted to this peaceful, mindful, meditative and highly effective martial art pastime.

Healing, Strength, Flexibility and Wellness 

The benefits of this meditative, mindful approach to fitness and general wellbeing can verge upon the miraculous. Many experience extraordinary healing as well as unparalleled increases in strength and flexibility. A gentle martial art training for every age and ability, that has at its core the very essence of Qi, of our life-force. It sounds like something out of Star Wars doesn’t it? Except it isn’t science fiction. For millennia thousands, be they young or old, physically fit, or in recovery from illness, have found peace and power from this, the quietest of all martial arts. 

Gain Confidence and Learn How to Meditate!

Improved strength. Improved stamina. Improved flexibility. Gains in confidence. Losses in weight. Improved muscle-tone. Increases in the life-force flow of Qi. These are just some of the benefits to be found in practising this ancient exercise. Many people also report decreased resting heart rates, better blood pressure and a much greater sense of inner peace and clarity of thought. 

Waking, Conscious, Moving Meditation

The meditative aspect of T’ai Chi, which you kind of get ‘for free’ is very appealing to participants. I say ‘for free’ because the physical practice of T’ai Chi is intrinsically linked to meditation. People find formal sitting meditation really hard and often give up! Tai Chi enables a kind of waking, conscious, moving meditation that, again, enables participants to have a sense of success; of being able to achieve and experience a meditative practice by doing Qigong. 


In 2021 I suffered a massive brain haemorrhage and was put into an induced coma before suffering further health complications that I was not expected to survive. I did, and believe that my thirty years of T’ai Chi Qigong experience assisted in this and my continued recovery. I still live with a brain injury and have lots to overcome, but Qigong has brought me back to life. Maybe it can do the same for you?

words by Jason Riddington, Actor, T’ai Chi expert and Author of brand new book Life, Death, T’ai Chi and Me.

Fancy giving T’ai Chi a go? The T’ai Chi Centre in SW London has some workshops this summer if you fancy a little taster.