I have been going to weekly (group) lessons of Tai Chi (Chen style) for 3 months; in the last month or so, I have found I get an overwhelming wave of negative energy, starting about 5 minutes after the session ends.

I feel oppressed by a need for violence, almost a killer instinct (general, not directed toward a specific person or target), self-disruptive thoughts alternating with inward depressive feelings.

This is something I have never experienced before in my life; even if I have had very low moments in the past, I can say I am quite fine right now.

The negative wave lasts for about 2 hours after the session has ended, and I am left with a sense of puzzlement and confusion.

Why is this happening?

Am I doing something wrong during my exercises?

Thank you for your help.

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    @Sardathrion - please don't refer people to other sites by yourself; it's best to flag the Q for mod attention and share your idea with them so that they can decide whether the Q should be migrated. Dupe questions across SE sites are discouraged in general. Plus, it has cost me quite some time to trace the source back here. FYI - self-help questions are offtopic on many sites, including Psych&Neurosci. They're a serious problem and referring such questions to scientific stacks doesn't help.
    – AliceD
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 10:13
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    @AliceD My sincere apologies for causing you trouble and thank you for your clear explanation. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 10:54
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it has nothing to do with martial arts. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 10:54
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    Having a killer instinct and some kind of lust for violence isn't uncommon. It sounds like you need a more physical martial art. Check out your local MMA gym. Do some kick boxing, jiu jitsu, wrestling, whatever else they offer.
    – coinbird
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 15:30
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    Agree with coinbird. It's psychological and physiological. You're envisioning a lot of violent things going on during your training, or your subconscious is at least. Then after training, you're just excited (adrenal glands) and happy (dopamine from social interaction). This stimulated mental and physiological state combines with what you were envisioning, and suddenly you feel like kicking ass. This is not uncommon in martial arts of all kinds. Work it off. Go running. Punch a punching bag for a while. Etc. You'll come down from the "high" quicker that way. My opinion. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 22:14

3 Answers 3


Exercise affects how you feel. Whether you describe this feeling in terms of meridians or dopamine is immaterial; you personally have no objective way to measure either of these things. You can think of taiji as an experiment where your variable is the exercises you perform and the observations are the feelings after training.

Exhausting yourself after taiji practice is counterproductive. One goal of taiji training is to become more sensitive and aware of your body; exercising to exhaustion after taiji practice will work directly against this goal. A major part of training is learning not just how to use muscles but how not to use muscles, which includes how to relax and eliminate tension, which is the opposite of exercising to exhaustion.

It's not clear at all what you are doing in training, and specifically whether you have changed your training in some way that might be expected to be detrimental. Your teacher is supposed to be your guide in this respect. Feeling depression, anger, or aggression is not what I usually associate with taiji training; I would consider this to be problem requiring correction.

There are two distinct possibilities that require different actions:

  1. You are inducing the feelings of depression and anger through your exercise. If you are inducing these feelings, change your selection or emphasis of exercises. Especially if your training did not formerly cause these feelings, adjust. This is one of the reasons internal training is not suited to group classes; your body may need different adjustments than others.
  2. You body is in a poor state, and you are now becoming aware of this. In this case further training should move you past this hump.
  • Thank you! Your point is really interesting and one part of me really feels that something has changed in the training as of late. We do much less ‘aerobic’ and ‘single’ work and much more ‘couple’ exercises. This makes me feel very bad because it brings two entities who are starting to liberate their energies into conflict. I always try to associate with a more expert partner but that is not always possible. Unfortunately I do not see this changing in the long term so I may either talk w/the trainer about this or just quit and change activity. Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 17:12
  • Moreover: my body is at present in a poor state. Classical musician, 25+ years of sitting on a chair practicing 4+ hrs on average per day. Music Engraver, 15 last years with 4+ extra hrs sit on a chair in front of a monitor. Definitely not enough physical exercise. A disastrous family situation that is most probably the root of the negative energy. So yeah, I will try to insist with the training and talk to the master about it. Thank you once more. Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 17:18

There are two aspects to what you describe, and I'll address both separately and then together.

The first aspect is just feeling stimulated and energetic after Taiji practice. That's actually normal. This same stimulated feeling can happen when you're just interacting with a bunch of people socially. After the meeting, you just feel happy, alive, and energetic. You might be more talkative. Your mind will be racing with all kinds of thoughts. And you might feel that you need to move your body a lot more than normal.

This stimulated effect does wear off on its own. It can take some people hours to come down from this. If you're taking martial arts classes at night, it can actually cause you to lose sleep, because you feel so stimulated that you can't fall asleep at your regular time. I know that's true for me.

I hypothesize that what's actually happening physiologically is that your adrenal glands are more active and your brain is releasing a lot of dopamine. In other words, you're feeling stimulated.

Again, all of that is pretty normal. Most people will feel that way for some time after martial arts practice or even just any kind of positive social interaction.

The other aspect you mentioned is that you feel overwhelmed by negative, self-destructive, and depressed feelings after Taiji practice. And this disturbs you.

So here's the thing. Martial arts practice will evoke violent thoughts, even if they're only in the subconscious. That's just because you're doing things like punching and kicking. You're imagining a fight. And for some people, this can trigger negative psychological states.

There's a reason for your particular psychological reaction. You might not be aware of it, though. And I could only guess at it here. (Could be PTSD from being bullied or previous military experience, could be seeing your parents fight, could be due to being an HSP - highly sensitive personality, etc.)

To help figure it out, if it is something that concerns you (and it sounds like it does), you should consider making an appointment with a psychologist. A qualified psychologist can help you realize what's behind the negative thoughts and why they're triggered by martial arts practice.

The stimulated state is, I believe, combining with and amplifying the negative psychological reaction you're having.

One way you can come down off of the stimulated state faster is to do high intensity exercise after Taiji class. You want to get that excess energy out of your system. Exercise yourself to exhaustion. If you do it with high intensity, it might only take 10 to 30 minutes.

Try sprinting, jumping rope, punching a punching bag, doing burpees, etc.

Once you're exhausted, you'll probably find it easier to relax and fall asleep at night.

But that still doesn't address the negative psychological state you mentioned. Since you mentioned depression and self-destructive thoughts, I highly recommend seeing a psychologist who can figure out what the cause is. It could be an indication of something you never knew you had. If left to its own, other things in your life might trigger this, or it might become worse. This can result in manic outbursts that hurt you or others around you, emotionally and/or physically.

One other thing that occurred to me was that you mentioned you only experience the negative psychological state 5 minutes after class, not during class. This can have a number of explanations. Some are psychological, as I mentioned before. Some are neurological.

The neurological component may be due to a sudden drop-off of dopamine or other kinds of neurotransmitters after the class ends. So you're feeling high and then all of the sudden it goes away, and so now you're experiencing the rebound effect. This neurological effect has been known to trigger depression and self-destructive thoughts in people before. It almost sounds like a minor case of acute manic depression (bipolar disorder), but I'm definitely not qualified to make a diagnosis like that, so take what I say with a huge grain of salt.

So you might benefit from seeing a psychiatrist in addition to your psychologist. They can often prescribe medication to help regulate these sorts of things going on in the brain. If I were you, I'd first see a psychologist and talk about what's happening and ask if a psychiatrist might be a better choice for this issue.

Meanwhile, try the high intensity exercise trick I mentioned.

Hope that helps.

  • Thank you Steve. I really appreciate your most precise analysis. I guess I connect some negative aspect of group lessons with some events in my past. Also, this feeling started when we stopped doing aerobic preparatory work in the class. I will try to implement it back starting next class! Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 19:00

Note that I am answering this from a traditional martial arts viewpoint, there can be many reasons why you are feeling the way you do.

What you are experiencing would likely be described as "an excess of energy in the fire meridians" (the pericardium, triple warmer, heart and small intestine meridians).

I'm not familiar with Chen style Tai Chi so I can't comment on what components of your exercises would be causing it. It could also be caused by a blockage in other meridians that follow (stomach, spleen, or the governing and conception meridians).

In the karate world, the Heian/Pinan katas are known for being effective in dissipating fire energy. I suggest you first discuss this with your instructor, but a traditional Chinese doctor or acupuncturist may also be able to help.

  • Thank you! Where can I learn more about “meridians”, “energy”, their blockage, “katas”... all these terms are quite unfamiliar to me. Thank you. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 18:49
  • Meanwhile, in the real world magic does not exist. I get that there is a lot of mysticism in martial arts due to many reasons some even valid ones.. However, most of them have been debunked as nothing but mumbo-jumbo. We do not advocate bleeding to rebalance ones humours either. Advocating SCAM treatments for imaginary ailments is counter productive. Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 8:10
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    @Sardathrion: As the old joke about psychology goes, if it's all in your head, imaginary treatments work just fine. Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 13:27
  • @SeanDuggan However, imaginary treatments are then used for real ailments causing great harm from antiavxers to homeopathy treatments for Ebola via drink-cow-urine and near the eradication of rhinos for Chinese medicine… Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 13:50
  • @sardathrion: Context is key indeed. Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 13:52

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