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The Three Dantians

 Tai chi creates the foundational energy needed to develop the three main energy points in the body.

This is a quick article introducing the novice to the dantian and the more experienced practitioner to the idea that there are three of them.  These three energy centers have been identified in the body.  They control and store energy and energy potential. The three dantians are each associated with one energy, collectively known as the three treasures.  They are:

The Lower Dantian: (Jing) located two inches below the navel, it is the source of energy which builds the physical body and allows us to develop and use Qi and Shen.

The Middle Dantian: (QI) located at the heart, it is energy created from food and air and relates to our emotions and thoughts.

The Upper Dantian: (Shen) located at a center point just higher than the eye brows, it is related to our spirit and/or consciousness.

Any reference to “the dantian” is most likely referring to the lower dantian unless a distinction is made.  A few reasons for this:


  • It is the first and original source of chi energy.
  • The other dantians and most tai chi energy points in the body cannot be felt until enough energy has been built in the lower dantian.  Energy then travels to these other points and lends them their “sensation.”
  • In martial terms it is the center for power.

What should we understand about the dantians?

Our goal in taichi and in qi gong is to build our energy within the body and increase the circulation of fluid.

How do we increase our energy in the three dantians?

The two important principles that begin cleaning and building energy are posture and breath.  We 1) maintain a good posture and 2) regulate our breathing.  Then we 3) coordinate our movements with our breath and at an advanced level 4) move our energy internally with our intention.

How do the three dantians relate to tai chi?

Hopefully this article points to the immense intelligence embedded in the tai chi form.  The moves were designed to activate and build the energy centers based on thousands of years of refinement and research.   As a beginner you automatically get to benefit from the intrinsic knowledge that the form possesses.  I would suggest Mantak Chia’s work on the Microcosmic Orbit if you are interested or ready to begin taking advantage of the energy you have awoken with taichi and are ready to move it around the body.

three dantiens

If you are looking for dantien – dantian – dan tian – dan tien you are in the right place.

Forgive the absence of exact sound pronunciation between Chinese and English.  There is a slight variability between what linguists call minimal pairs (b/p, t/d, g/k) which cause the trouble.   The most common spelling is dantian.  Read more about the reasons behind the differences in pronounciation here:


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