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Introduction to Aqua Tai-Chi

by Peter Chin Kean Choy(more info)

listed in chi energy martial arts, originally published in issue 80 - September 2002


Aqua Tai-Chi was a phrase used in the early 1980s to describe the relaxing, fluidic and graceful movements of Tai-Chi. The ancient teachers spoke of it often, "When learning Tai-Chi, root yourself like a tree and become like Water". Today, there are millions of people practising or are interested to practise Tai-Chi and Chi Kung for improving their health. Aqua Tai-Chi adds a powerful and rejuvenating quality to their daily practice.


Aqua Tai-Chi is based on many years of study and research into the use of Tai-Chi Chi Kung for health and rejuvenation. It is a form of meditation in movement, which can be practised easily by people of all abilities, including beginners who are non-swimmers as well as enthusiastic students of the art of relaxation. We usually teach students from 17 years upwards. The gentle and fluidic exercises are based on the inherent flow of the limbs, arteries and muscles, using clear and tested Taoist principles. The gliding and even movements help to reduce stress and begin to train the mind to still itself even in action. The term 'Tai-Chi' literarily means, 'The River of Chi Energy which flows unceasingly in a dance of Balance of Yin/Lightness and Yang/Heaviness'. In Aqua Tai-Chi, we take it one more step, to embody this principle physically. This means that we encourage learners to take their practice into warm water and discover why this is not simply an old Chinese definition but is truly one of the most effective ways to de-stress and help the modern man and woman to rediscover a more peaceful and relaxing lifestyle.

What is the Purpose of Aqua Tai-Chi?

The modern man and woman today live in a faster pace than our forefathers and so the stressful lifestyle needs more effective ways to handle the ill effects on our health. The quality of life deteriorates and many people today complain that they do not have time to relax and unwind because they are always worried about money and paying the bills. The modern man and woman often put the job first and then, as the years go by, they see the job taking the most important place in their lives. Yes, it safeguards the future security for themselves and their children. On the other side of the coin, if the parents themselves continue with the tensed and stressful lifestyle, the children learn it and also grow up to be stressful people.

Disastrous consequences follow and psychosomatic illnesses affect adversely your health, jobs and relationships. To complement this rising tide of unhealthy stress, more and more people are beginning to search for effective ways to find their way home to that natural fountain of health and rejuvenation.

Many students at first complain that they do not have time to practise. I have devised many daily, simple movements, which are done on land. They can be practised anywhere and at anytime. People practise these exercises of balance, health and rejuvenation while they are standing, walking, sitting, speaking on the phone, in front of the computer, driving, listening or simply lying in bed or in the bath!

How did it all begin for me? Many years ago, I saw the connection between Tai-Chi Chi Kung principles and the flotation tank. Float tanks are like covered boats where you lie in an Epsom salt solution and float in darkness or with music. This buoyant feeling reconnects you to that deep stillness and peace which you need to recuperate your chi. Today, float tanks have been proven, through countless research studies, to be a remarkably effective tool for pain relief, stress reduction, improvement of athletic performance, ways to free one from unhealthy habits and addictions and even good for weight loss. I had my own float tank and found it very useful and shared its use with Tai-Chi students. In Aqua Tai-Chi, however, this state of fluidic awareness is taken one step further. People do not have to worry about being stung by the Epsom salt solution used in the flotation tank. We have float belts with eye masks, and each person is also very well supported by a partner. They experience a deep sense of letting go and allow the water to absorb all their tensions and stresses. They also continue to experience this ecstatic feeling of peace and calm even when they are on land. We also encourage centring exercises in the water to keep people 'grounded'. Participants are also introduced to simple water exercises to maintain these wonderful, rejuvenating effects by practising them in their own bathtub, local swimming pool or in the sea.

Aqua Tai-Chi exercises are powerful, simple and beautiful sets of movements easily learned by anyone seeking more peace, balance, beauty and health in his or her life. The exercises done in water or on land reduce weight without dieting and stimulate the metabolism. They increase and balance one's energy; create beautiful skin and help to eliminate wrinkles; reduce tension by relaxing the body and calming your mind; improve muscle tone and enhance flexibility in the joints; adjust and stretch the spine; send energy to the vital organs by stimulating the meridians; naturally improve the posture; massage the deep muscles all the way to the bone and free up and deepen the breathing.

Most schools and books on Tai-Chi emphasize Tai-Chi as a 'soft kind of martial art'. Another aspect that is well covered is the 'fitness and relaxation' theme. Although Aqua Tai-Chi concentrates on the relaxation part of the exercises, we emphasize the importance of learning how to attune to chi and learn to transform the inner battles into opportunities for personal growth. This system helps you to open up your meridians of chi and allow chi to circulate vitality throughout your whole being. It is quite common in our classes for people to say that they feel five to ten years younger after practising. The best part of the process is that it is truly an enjoyable way of getting back to who you truly are. You are a naturally rejuvenating person of abundant health and prosperity. The effortlessness is a very important factor in learning this set of exercises.

When you watch the sea rolling onto the shores, you do not have to go and make the waves roll onto the seashore in order to make you feel relaxed; they are just there. You slow down, lie on the beach and let the sounds of the gentle waves relax you. You feel happy in that relaxed state. Aqua Tai-Chi tunes you to the natural way in which relaxation happens inside your body. The rivers and sea of relaxation begin from inside and naturally express outside in the way your body moves. You discover this graceful flow of movement in yourself through Aqua Tai-Chi. Presently, there is no other book or school of Tai-Chi in the world that demonstrates how to do Tai-Chi in the water.

After learning to connect to your natural fluidity, it is like you have plugged yourself back to the mains and so, with practice, your fluidic connection with revitalizing chi becomes nearly automatic. Initially, we encourage people to tap into this connection through exercises in water and on land.

Why do Tai-Chi in Water?

Doing Tai-Chi in water has many advantages. Many people have complained that Tai-Chi is so difficult to learn. Why? One of the key reasons is that they feel so clumsy, awkward and stiff in their bodies. In water, all the clumsiness, heaviness and stiffness disappears after an hour of practice. This usually takes a Tai-Chi practitioner a long time to achieve in order to start to enjoy the health benefits of their practice.

Beginners often complain that they are told by the Tai-Chi Master that they must practise for many years before being able to experience the chi. Why? Because they have not been able to be as fluid and graceful as a swan! Why not join the swan and do it in water to find that gracefulness? Being in touch with the outer fluidic environment frees up the emotions and mind to be receptive to fluidity more easily than doing it only on land.

Some people are sceptical when they hear me share this, even after looking at the evidence of thousands of people whom I have worked with, and they still ask, "How does it work?" If you take a cynic who does not believe in the existence of electricity, it is as if he has put himself into a ring of protective rubber armour and no electric current can reach him. So, first, you ask him to climb into a swimming pool, and then the water seeps into the cracks of his armour. Then, you give him one last chance before you put a live wire into any part of the pool! In the same way that water is a perfect conductor for electricity, your fluidic movements make you a perfect conductor for chi. This is why beginners are able to sense chi during the first hour of my classes. We encourage them to feel that it is all right to feel what they do not know. They then have a truly receptive and open heart and a 'pliable' mind.

In comparison, a Tai-Chi practitioner who believes he 'knows it all' will sink into a heavy and unreceptive mental state and block off a lot of the chi circulation. Even if he feels some chi flowing, he will find it difficult to relax and let go of his mind.

Ancient Chinese sages have often pointed out that the water method is the most effective way to cultivate pre-birth and postnatal chi. It is the most effective way because it is the most natural way. In traditional Tai-Chi practice, the art of Tai-Chi Push Hands also takes on a deeper experience when learning the yielding principle, allowing the flow of nature to take its course. This enables the student to learn how to go with an oncoming force, whether a physical attack or an emotional aggressive force is applied, and learn to neutralize the negative force. This natural inborn instinct to 'flow with and neutralize negative forces' is experienced on a biological level when we see how the whole of the muscular, nervous and immune systems of the body constantly adjust fluidly to the body's needs. Even invading cells are embraced in a fluidic way. The Tai-Chi principle has inherently been practised already in the body for thousands of years.

Now, some people who love swimming will say that they also feel this wonderful feeling of rejuvenation. Many swimmers, including a couple of Olympic swimmers, have come and learned with me and discovered how important it was, even for themselves to slow down in order to really understand this fluidic water chi of rejuvenation. Most people have to move fast to get the benefits of swimming. In our fluidic exercises we literally slow people down and then naturally increase their speed of joyous interaction with water. The slowness enables one to learn how to 'listen' to the natural rhythms of water, both outside and inside our bodies. This natural intelligence speaks directly to us in pure rhythms and not in any human form of language.

One other very important group of people are the workaholics. I had a very stressed-out farmer who was also recommended to come and see me by his doctor. At the end of about three one-to-one private consultations, he went back to his doctor and found that his high blood pressure problem no longer existed and he says that he now enjoys his work. I asked him, "So, what did you get out of these sessions?" He replied, "I used to lift my farm gates up by two feet in order to open them and let my cows go into another field. Now, I lift them up by about two inches. By using less effort I conserve my energy. I can do more now and am a much calmer person. I used to be hot tempered. The best news is that my doctor has given me a clean bill of health."

Besides health benefits, people also get flashes of intuition, insights, and visions of beauty and poetry in motion while practising. New solutions suddenly appear on the horizon when they felt stuck before. Their minds were stuck on a problem. Your crystallized thoughts trap your consciousness. Now, when you are in a 'soluble' state, not only in your body but also in your emotions and in your mind, what happens then? The next thing you know, you are in a state of solution! All your tensions simply melt into a soluble state. No wonder many people realize that when they feel they are wasting their time in endless meetings trying to find solutions, especially when they feel at 'loggerheads' with someone in the team. So, you and he escape from all those tensions; give each other 'space'. You may go for a sauna or for a holiday by the sea, and it helps you to get back some peace of mind and clarity. Some other people will go and sweat it out playing tennis or some other active sport where they can forget their minds. Although these activities can be very enjoyable in their own right, they can also be used as self-escape activities. Then, the benefits will be short lived. The body temporarily shows you how to 'let go' and you return into your naturally soluble state again.

Aqua Tai-Chi helps to optimize health in people because people use it to tap into limitless chi energy even if they do not have access to a swimming pool or the seaside. The reason is that you have a billion swimming pools inside you right now, even as you are reading these words! Medical scientists all agree that more than 70% of the whole body is made up of fluids (in fact the head is supposed to contain 80% fluids). I have had scientists in my classes too, because even if they know all these facts, it is still theoretical and they still do not know how to let go. And then, they and I excitedly start sharing about thermonuclear chi! Life becomes so full of promise, inspiration and excitement when you truly trust and let go into your own fluidic power of chi!

Many centuries ago in China, this fluidic idea was actually reserved only for highly skilled practitioners of Tai-Chi. It feels so right now, at last, to share these ancient secrets of health and rejuvenation because we open it up so that modern man can benefit from these timeless practices.

Some students ask: "What if I am afraid of water?" "Can I just wait and see how I feel before doing the water exercises?" "Will I be able to still benefit from your Aqua Tai-Chi course if I finally decide not to get into the water?" My reply is, "Yes, you can still do many of the fluidic exercises on land even if you finally decide not to go into the water. Half of the time we practise on land and half of the time, we practise in the water. We also offer you the choice of doing simple exercises on land with a big bowl of water to encourage you to make friends with water first. This also helps you to learn to breathe in a more revitalizing way. When you feel ready, you can choose to join in and learn to flow in the deliciously warm and relaxing water. This in turn will help you to relax and create a more trusting and beautiful relationship with your body."

Artist/Scientist Dr Masaru Emoto and Aqua Tai-Chi

During Easter 2001, Dr Masaru Emoto from Japan was invited to join us for the Aqua Tai-Chi Easter Workshop to do his 'Message from Water' presentation. His book Message from Water[1] was released at the same time as my first book, Tai-Chi Chi Kung: Fifteen Ways to a Happier You.[2] Dr Emoto has for the past ten years been giving slide shows and lectures to thousands of people all over the world about his work with micro-cluster photographs of water affected by music, emotion and even photos. After more than 10,000 experiments, he showed how consciousness can affect water directly. Dr Masaru Emoto has also conducted many experiments with water samples provided by healing centres all over the world. He said, "Many people say that their centres have amazing energies; we let the water decide." So, when he was at our school, one sample of water was de-energized with chi while another bottle of water from our school was chi energized by a group of people practising Aqua Tai-Chi. He took the samples home to be handled by independent technicians who have never been to the school and they have also never met us. A few weeks later, we received the two photos. According to him, he said that our Centre's Aqua Tai-Chi energy reflected beautiful qualities of love and gratitude. This confirmed our belief for the past 30 years in our work with thousands of people studying Aqua Tai-Chi that the healing qualities of the chi energy do truly exist on a physical level.

Participant Feedback

Normally, people would take many years to grasp the fluidic principles of Tai-Chi, yet this fluidic learning environment would help them to learn it in a few weeks. Recently Molly, who is in her late 40s, came to recuperate from her high blood pressure problems. She also shared that she had had a stroke, resulting in paralysis of half of her body, and had been in pain for many years. She regained her sense of balance and looked younger and happier after doing daily Aqua Tai-Chi for a half hour for nine days. The following Aqua Tai-Chi

Workshop participants also gave positive feedback about their experiences:

* "I have applied the teaching to my art form and found immense success. I also now enjoy teaching Tai-Chi in East London." - Wayne Meeten, UK Gold and Silversmith of the Year 2002, Runner up Designer of the Queen's Jubilee Sword;

* "Coming from a background of 12 years as a general practitioner, I felt there was something lacking in what I was able to offer. I first met Choy seven years ago and attended his workshops. What he had to say seemed immediately to make sense. Since then I have explored many different avenues and teachers, but nowhere has everything made such sense without turning our backs on our ordinary Western lives." - Dr Lynette Bowden, MBBS, DRCOG, MFHom, Founder of The Penwethers Holistic Centre, Bude;

* "I had an amazing experience the first time we floated in the water. I felt aching in my shoulders and my neck. The aching intensified and intensified. I flowed with it. My neck began to ache too. Then my head started to rise up, my neck realigning. My arms rose up too and I found myself smiling at the magic of the healing taking place." - Jenny;

* "My arthritic finger is no longer painful and inflamed. The pains in my hip joints have diminished. Lack of sensitivity (after suffering from paralysis) in the shoulder and thigh has diminished gradually. The catharsis during the emotional release in the 'quiet day' has meant that the gripping tightly in my hands has gone. The feeling of powerlessness in the face of diabetes 'hypos', strokes I now see as a manifestation of starvation in my heart. Now, I have tools to nourish myself." - Kerry;

* "All year I have suffered from a lot of back pain, particularly in my lower back, and lots of stiffness. It is intense when I lie down in bed at night. After two days I realized that my back was no longer aching. I feel this is connected to the very deep experience of really being able to let go when I was in the swimming pool doing the Tai-Chi exercises." - Paul;

* "The acute tension in my shoulders dissolved with the Tai-Chi Form sequence, 'Greeting the Seven Stars'. The most joyous feeling was being with the rushing water and feeling the light in the bubbles penetrate my whole being, massaging, energizing, healing and dancing through me! I cannot thank you enough!" - Sally.


1. Emoto Masaru. Message from Water. [PUBLISHER?]. 1998.
2. Choy Peter Chin Kean. Tai-Chi Chi Kung: Fifteen Ways to a Happier You. Kyle Cathie. ISBN 1-85626-281-2. 1998.
3. Choy Peter Chin Kean. Tai-Chi: 37 Steps to Happiness. Kyle Cathie. ISBN 1-85626-401-7. 2001.

Further Information

For further details about courses and books, please contact the Rainbow Tai-Chi Chi Kung School, Creek Farm, Woodland, Devon England TQ13 7JY; Tel: 01364 653 618;;


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    I am interested in learning to become a aqua tai chi instructor, do you know of any courses in Lancashire near Blackburn Burnley?



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About Peter Chin Kean Choy

Master Choy (full name Peter Chin Kean Choy) has been practising these ancient arts for more than 40 years and has taught more than 20,000 students. His books have reached more than 200,000 readers and practitioners. He studied Tai-Chi Chi Kung with Grandmaster Huang Sheng Shyang of Malaysia and Grandmaster Chen of China (who gave him the title of Master Choy). Master Choy also learned the application of Tai-Chi Chi Kung with his father, Chin Ket Leong, who was a Chinese Herbal Doctor and Martial Arts Master. He combined his Tai-Chi with other Taoist Exercises into the Rainbow Tai-Chi Chi Kung Practice and Philosophy. He is also indebted to his contemporaries: Jiddu Krishnarmurti, U.G Krishnarmurti, Eileen and Peter Caddy of Findhorn Foundation, Barry and Samahria Lyte Kaufman of The Option Institute (U.S.A),  Mantak Chia (Thailand). He studied Chi Healing and Swimming Dragon Chi Kung  at  The Chi Healing Arts Centre (U.S.A) directed by Dr. T K Shih and  Zhineng Chi Kung at the Zhineng Chi Kung Centre in China by Dr Pang Li. He is also a qualified instructor of Aichi. He is the  Founder/Director of The Rainbow Tai Chi Chi Healing Centre/School and is founder of the Thanking Healing Process, The Trilogue Therapy and Tao of Colour Science. He is  also a qualified Raw and Living Food Chef, Consultant and Instructor. Peter Chin Kean Choy may be contacted via

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