Disadvantages of Tai Chi: Do They Outweigh the Pros?

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

Group of young people Tai Chi Chuan
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Millions of people across the world practice Tai Chi on a regular basis because of the many health advantages associated with it. One might wonder if there are any disadvantages to Tai Chi. If you are going to dedicate yourself to a daily or weekly practice, you might want to know the good and the bad (the pros and cons so to speak).

This ancient martial art is not only a form of non-violent self-defense but also one of the most practiced exercises and meditations in the world. In 1956, Tai Chi was simplified by the Chinese Sports Committee as a way to create a simple version of exercise to be presented to the masses.

Tai Chi is not just another form of meditational exercise. There is much more to this martial art than meets the eye. Are you ready to learn about the disadvantages of Tai Chi? Let’s jump right in:

These are 15 disadvantages of practicing Tai Chi:

1. Tai Chi takes a long time to learn and master.

For some people, this is part of the enjoyment of learning a martial art. Others might not have the patience for it, and the slow and steady pace at which one “levels up” can be frustrating. It can realistically take longer than 3 months to learn the basic form and moves – and some would say that you never really stop learning thereafter.

senior taichi
Zhu Difeng / Shutterstock.com

2. The form of Tai Chi that is taught in classes nowadays is not the original form.

Unfortunately, the Tai Chi that is taught today by most instructors and masters is merely a watered down version of the real thing. Most Tai Chi classes nowadays teach around 24 Tai Chi moves, whereas the original martial art involved 100 complex moves. In 1956 the Chinese Government instructed the Chinese Sports Committee to create a simplified version of the art so that it could be taught to masses of people. The simplified version is what people are typically taught in modern Tai Chi classes today.

3. Not all Tai Chi instructors and classes are authentic.

This means that you could learn the skill, but not correctly. Tai Chi does not come standard, and because many versions have developed over time, it can be hard to tell if your class is the real deal or not.

4. Tai Chi is a non-violent martial art.

For some, a form of self-defense needs to include some kind of violence, but that is not what Tai Chi is about. Tai Chi is about using the opponent’s own energy against him by merely avoiding the intended impacts.

Legend has it that the inventor of Tai Chi based the art on the movements observed between a crane and a snake in combat. The founding father of Tai Chi watched as a craned swooped down from a tree and launched an attack on a snake. Every time the crane struck at the snake with its beak, the snake would deceptively coil away and evade danger. Tai Chi self-defense is based on this very concept. If you are looking for a martial art that involves contact and sparring, Tai Chi won’t fulfill that need.

5. Tai Chi can be time-consuming.

Hourglass as time passing concept
Min C. Chiu / Shutterstock.com

As such, learning Tai Chi can be inconvenient for your time. It is recommended that you practice Tai Chi for at least 20 minutes a day if you want to develop the movements steadily. Considering most people already busy schedules, not everyone has 20 minutes a day to dedicate to this kind of exercise.

6. Tai Chi is a non-competitive form of martial art.

Many people want to learn martial arts in order to compete. Tai Chi is just not competitive and focuses on a completely different mindset and skill set. For some, this can be quite demotivating.

7. Modern Tai Chi is not what it used to be.

Some martial art schools seem to have lost their way when it comes to Tai Chi. Instead of teaching martial applications; they focus on health and managing tension and stress. So, it might be hard to find a Tai Chi class that actually teaches the applications in their entirety. If you are the type of student that wants to learn everything about the art you are learning, and actively participate, you might not be able to with Tai Chi, unless you find an authentic teacher of course.

8. Tai Chi can be painful, in the beginning.

While the art form is not high-energy or aerobic by any means, the movements are challenging to learn. Doing Tai Chi provides a full body workout. In fact, when it is done correctly, the movements exercise all muscle groups. First timers often do not expect to feel any pain because the movements are so slow and gentle. Most do experience some exercise pain in their legs and arms in the evening or morning after their classes.

This is not a permanent disadvantage, though. The fitter you get and the more familiar the movements become to you, the less painful it should be.

a man has low back pain

9. Tai Chi is meant to be practiced outdoors, in nature.

If you live in a cold or sunny area, this can be unpleasant. If you don’t feel comfortable exercising outdoors, you might feel awkward too. Of course, there are Tai Chi classes that are held indoors, but they are not quite the same, and the concept might be lost.

10. It is not easy learning Tai Chi alone or by watching videos for guidance.

If you do not have the time or money to join a class, you might find it challenging to learn the art. A master, instructor, or Tai Chi guru is particularly necessary during the beginning stages of learning.

11. Getting into the right mindset to enjoy Tai Chi could be difficult.

This is true, especially for those who have trouble focusing. It could even appear boring to some. Although many who stick with it and keep practicing find that the quiet mindset can really help in terms of mental and emotional health.

Girl taichi boredom

12. Tai Chi classes can be unexpectedly tiring.

Many do not realize it, but while the classes are low-impact, they can be long and intensive, which is tiring. Learning and trying to remember new movements can be a double whammy on body and mind.

13. It just might not be for you – which can be quite disappointing.

Tai Chi is not for everyone. While the martial art is considered to have many health benefits, in certain instances, people are advised not to participate in Tai Chi. Some situations where someone might need to halt practice or do a more simplified version of the movements includes hernia, pregnancy, severe osteoporosis, and if they have any fractures or existing sprains.

14. Practicing Tai Chi will not get you particularly fit, and this can be disappointing to some.

Those who do Tai Chi can tone and shape their bodies, but it won’t get you fit like running or cycling will. If you exercise every day and still get out of breath walking up a flight of stairs, you might feel irritated that your chosen exercise form is not particularly improving your fitness levels.

young heavy man tired

15. Tai Chi can be addictive.

Some people feel so good after their morning session that they become a bit obsessive about it. It is not uncommon for new Tai Chi converts to spend a great deal of time researching, learning, and obsessing about their new form of meditation. You might even find yourself wishing to escape to your quiet place and the clear mindset that only a session of Tai Chi can provide.

Do The Advantages of Tai Chi Outweigh the Disadvantages?

These 15 disadvantages of Tai Chi may warrant someone deciding not to join a local class; however, the advantages are far more than the disadvantages. Those who are dedicated to Tai Chi and have genuinely embraced its application, concept, and movements, seem to stick with it for many years. It becomes a staple form of exercise and therapy (meditation) in their lives.

The mental, physical, and emotional health benefits of Tai Chi simply cannot be overlooked.

people practice tai chi chuan
Dmitry Chulov / Shutterstock.com

In closing,

It is blatantly clear that the health benefits of Tai Chi by far outweigh the disadvantages. If you are looking for a low-impact form of exercise that gives you the time to quiet your mind and find inner peace while building muscle strength and toning, Tai Chi may just be the answer.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.