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Tai Chi vs. Ai Chi: The Confusion - And How To Choose One Or The Other

Jun 02, 2021

Do you know the difference between ai chi and tai chi? If not, you're not alone. Unfortunately, many people may be confused by these two practices and never heard of Ai Chi.

We want to help clear up any confusion about ai chi and tai chi so that you can decide which one is right for your body, lifestyle, and needs.

In this blog post, we will discuss the main differences between Ai Chi and tai chi. We'll talk about what they are, their benefits, who can practice them, etc. Let's dive in!

What is the difference between Ai Chi and Tai Chi?


Tai Chi has been around for almost 1,000 years. It began as a martial art in China and is believed to be created by Zhang Sanfeng during the Song Dynasty. It has since been practiced for its health benefits, often referred to as more holistic moving meditation or exercise.

Because Tai Chi is rooted in martial arts, there is more focus on correct form and positioning than Ai Chi.

Ai Chi is essentially Tai Chi in water, but it was created only about 25 years ago and is a Japanese invention. It promotes a slower, more relaxed atmosphere for practice in a pool.

Ai Chi does not come from traditional Tai Chi lineage and doesn't have a martial component.

Is Ai Chi an Ancient Chinese Practice?

Ai Chi is not an ancient Chinese Practice and was created in Japan.

The history/meaning of Chi

The word Ai means water in Chinese.

The word Chi is often translated as "vital life force," or the energy that animates a living organism and connects it to the universe. It flows through us and can be used for healing purposes.

While both of these words translate in Chinese, the phrase "Ai Chi" has no historical meaning and is a recent invention.

What is Ai Chi aquatic therapy?

Ai Chi is an aquatic exercise performed standing in shoulder depth water. It has a strong focus on deep breathing and slow movements.

It promotes relaxation in the practice session. It also contributes to muscle strengthening, improved joint motion and mobility, and blood circulation.

It borrows movement from both Qigong and Tai Chi Chuan to make up the different movements (or katas) of Ai Chi.

Ai Chi can be used for recreation, fitness, and physical therapy.

Ai Chi is very beneficial for people with cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. It lowers the risk of stroke by reducing internal stress, leading to a rupture in an artery.

It's also great for those who have arthritis because Ai Chi does not put significant pressure on the joints, and the practice could see the practitioner experience an improved range of motion.

Developed in 1993 by Jun Konno

The creator of Ai Chi is Jun Konno, a swim coach and President of Aqua Dynamics Institute. Jun Konno created Ai Chi in 1993 in Japan.

The benefits of water exercise

Water exercise can be seen as a low-impact, high-intensity workout. A person's range of motion will likely increase due to less pressure on your joints and muscles in water than if you were inland exercises.

Other benefits of an aquatic exercise program include:

  1. Increases oxygen and caloric consumption
  2. Develops the respiratory system
  3. Conditions heart and circulatory systems
  4. Increases aerobic capacity
  5. Reduces blood pressure levels

Is Ai Chi better than Tai Chi?

It is difficult to say which type of exercises are better, but it's worth a try. It could not hurt you if you gave both a try.

Different people have different opinions on the subject, and there may be some advantages for each form. Even so, only your own body can tell you what will work best for you and your fitness goals.

Both focus on breathing and slow, broad movements of the arms. The added resistance to the body from water can be beneficial to fitness goals. Still, Tai Chi might be a better option if you have some physical limitations because it can be done safely from a seated position.

Are Watsu Techniques a form of Ai Chi?

Watsu techniques are not the same as Ai Chi. Instead, Watsu focuses on deep tissue massage of muscles and fascia with heated water to help release tension and improve circulation.

It's an alternative therapy that helps to heal the mind, body, and soul.

Ai Chi and Watsu can be combined to create a tremendous holistic health routine.


If you're looking for a different and calming way to exercise and focus on your breathing, Ai Chi may be the perfect practice. It's done standing in shoulder depth water and focuses on slow movements that are gentle on joints.

For those who want more of a challenging workout or martial arts component, Tai Chi is an ancient art form with roots in China that can help provide physical fitness and self-defense training! 

Choosing one or the other depends on your needs and personality, so don't be afraid to experiment with both!


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