Is tai chi considered avodah zara? It might have some roots in buddhism and/or taoism, but is it still avodah zara if I am only interested in the physical benefits of tai chi?

I checked out the three links below, and it seems to me that nobody knows for sure tai chi's origins, and in addition the modern form of tai chi is, for the most part, a secularized phyiscal sport.



  • Do a google search of Rabbi Gustman Locks try and contact him,this is(was) his area of expertise. – sam May 10 '17 at 14:41
  • I googled "Rabbi Gustman Locks" but nothing of value came up. Are you sure you spelt it right? – user14809 May 10 '17 at 14:46
  • spelt it wromg,its gutman locks – sam May 10 '17 at 14:49
  • I'll ask my Rabbi, see what he says. – user14809 May 10 '17 at 14:49
  • 1
    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/8713 – msh210 May 10 '17 at 16:44

Tai chi is not a form of worship and cannot in any way be categorized as such. Therefore your problem with the Avodah Zarah aspect is simply solved.

However, there is a prohibition of וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶם לֹא תֵלֵכוּ which includes all kinds of rituals the pagans practice. But this does not include rituals (chukim) that people do for a good reason, the rituals are only prohibited if they have no rhyme or reason (see Tos. Avodh zara 11b. see also Ran). In this case, even if tai chi is an old pagan ritual, you want the benefits of tai chi and therefore should be permitted.

The problem of Nichush should not apply here, since the one practicing it is deriving physical benefits from it and is permitted in such a case (even if some of the other benefits might be categorized as Nichush).

  • 4
    "Tai chi is not a form of worship and cannot in any way be categorized as such." How do you know this?? – Double AA May 11 '17 at 14:00
  • Even if it was at one point a form of worship, it is not anymore viewed by the majority as such. It is categorized as martial arts in wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_chi). In such a case the practice cannot be categorized as Avodah zara, at most it may be classified as Chukei A"z....which i already dealt with in the second paragraph. – Bach May 11 '17 at 16:12
  • 2
    How do you know that? And why does Wikipedia matter? And why does how it's viewed by a majority of people matter? – Double AA May 11 '17 at 16:13
  • if he is not using it as a form of worship, and the majority does not view it that way, why would you say that it is Avodah zara? if you want to say otherwise the onus proof is on you! – Bach May 11 '17 at 16:21
  • 4
    No, you posted an answer so the onus is on you! – Double AA May 11 '17 at 16:22

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu says it's permitted.

You must log in to answer this question.