The Benefits of Tai Chi for Positive Masculinity

In honour of Movember, a month dedicated to men’s health, I wanted to share some thoughts on my Tai Chi practice, and it’s an excellent practice to break the cycle of toxic masculinity.

Different Types of Strength

Tai Chi, like many of the internal arts, requires a considerable amount of strength–but it is a strength very different than what toxic masculinity generally focuses on. Traditional conceptions of masculinity conveys images of bulging muscle and well-defined six-pack abs as the male ideal of strength. Tai Chi, on the other hand, focuses on a multi-dimensional strength–strength IS important, but the focus is not on brute force, but on stamina, endurance, speed, and precision.

Resolve Conflict By Taking Away Force

In traditional conceptions of masculinity, men win conflicts of all sorts by adding force. Conflict is resolved through pure will, persistent strength, and overpowering the other. In Tai Chi, by contrast, conflict is resolved by taking away force. This is done by connecting with the opponent, sensing and harmonizing with their intention, and then turning the situation to their advantage–by strategic removal of force, the opponent becomes unbalanced, and the Tai Chi practitioner then has several options to resolve the conflict further.

Balance of Yin and Yang

In traditional conceptions of masculinity, men are encouraged to repress emotion, to strengthen themselves physically and mentally, and to be dominant in all situations and at all times. Tai Chi, by contrast, is about finding a balance between yin and yang energies in all things. Physically, this is expressed through a constant dynamic shift between hardness and softness; emotionally this is by having neither too much nor too little of any form of emotional expression–but just the right amount.

Balance is also key in Tai Chi from the martial perspective–from the application perspective, the focus in Tai Chi is on unbalancing one’s opponent while maintaining one’s own balance. Once an opponent is unbalanced, options range from strikes, to joint locks, to take-downs but the focus is on the balance. When one follows the path of traditional masculinity they are committing too much to hardness and are thus unbalanced both physically and emotionally–the principles of Tai Chi frowns immensely on this and is tailored specially to be able to defeat exactly that type of an opponent.


Tai Chi is primarily a martial art, though it does include a strong emphasis on health and wellness as well. Tai Chi, like other internal martial arts (like Xingyi and Bagua), is built on an understanding of energies, cultivation of qi, and Daoist principles and philosophy. The balance between yin and yang energies, the knowledge of oneself and the cultivation of internal energies, and the focus on defensive applications and resolving conflict by taking force away from a confrontation provides a much healthier alternative to traditional, and generally toxic, masculinities.

As someone who has personally struggled with the unachievable ideas of traditional masculinity, I am immensely grateful for the practice and teachings of Tai Chi, and I firmly believe that many other men would benefit from exploring such practices and teachings as well.

Published by Devin Hogg

My name is Devin Hogg. I was born and raised in Carnarvon, Ontario, Canada. I moved to Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 2009 for university and lived here ever since. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching TV and movies, going on long walks, swimming, and practicing Chen style Tai Chi. I love to write poetry and blog regularly about topics such as mental health, sci-fi/fantasy series, faith, sexuality, and politics.

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