Even though there are, at the moment, a reasonable number of people practicing Tai Chi or Taijiquan worldwide, there is still a mystery about it. Tai Chi is relatively unknown compared to Karate or Kung Fu. Some people are wondering whether it is a special form of Yoga, Kung Fu or even a dance. Others associate Tai Chi with the image of a large group of elderly people in a park moving slowly in unison, performing a series of “dance like” movements.
What is Taijiquan?
T’ai Chi Ch’uan or Taijiquan is a soft style (internal) martial art but is also called “art of moving meditation”. It is characterised by relaxed and soft movements. Taijiquan theory and practice is formulated in agreement with many of the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. The slow, repetitive work involved in that process gently increases and opens the internal circulation (breath, body heat, blood, and peristalsis).
T’ai chi, Taiji, t’ai chi Ch’uan and Taijiquan are different spellings for the same discipline and the words mean literally “Supreme Ultimate Fist”, or “The way of supreme harmony”. Tai chi is the shortened name of Taijiquan wherein both names are generally related to health, relaxation and spiritual development. Taijiquan is used for Tai chi as an internal Martial Art. We use normally the shortened name but refer to all aspects of Tai chi, health and Martial Arts.
The term “Tai Chi” refers to the ancient Chinese cosmological concept of the interaction between the polar opposites of Yin and Yang. Yin is represented by night, cold, negative, soft, earth, intellectual, feminine, while Yang is represented by day, warm, positive, hard, sky, physical, masculine. “Quan” literally means, “fist” and denotes an unarmed combat method. Taijiquan as an internal martial art is based on the principle of subduing the hard with the soft by adapting and sticking to the opponent’s movements.
The origins of Taijiquan
The origins of Taijiquan have been traced back to the seventeenth century. The royal guard and experienced warrior Chen Wangting created the Chen style Taijiquan in Chenjiagou Village in Wenxian Country. Chen Wangting studied Daoyin (leading and guiding energy) and Tu-na (expelling and drawing energy) and has been influenced by Taoism theories on consciousness guiding movement. He was the first who combined the different concepts of Daoyin, Tuna and Taoism with Martial Arts and created a unique synthesis as a base of all Tai Chi styles.
Originally, the Chen Style Tai Chi was only taught to members of the Chen clan until a young outsider named Yang Lu Chan was accepted as a student in the early nineteenth century. After mastering the Art, Yang Lu Chan was the first who taught Taijiquan outside the Chen family. He modified the original Chen Style and created the Yang Style, which is the most popular form practiced in the world today. Other styles derived from the Yang Style are the Wu and Sun style.
Taijiquan for Young and Old Alike
In today’s quick and stress-filled environment, Taijiquan offers an extraordinary way to quiet the mind and relax the body for all ages and levels of physical fitness. Most of the Tai Chi styles are performed slowly and gently, with deep natural breathing for health benefits. The Yang style Taijiquan allows a unique combination of mental and physical activity which brings harmony to the mind, body and spirit. We recommend the Yang Style for older people or for mediation and relaxation purposes.
The Chen style Taijiquan in particular incorporates in its forms (movements) fast and explosive fajing (emitting energy) elements as self-defense applications practice. The variety of movements and rhythms in Chen Taijiquan make this style an excellent choice for people who are bored by the repetitive nature of many other exercise systems and are looking for a powerful and effective internal martial art.
Come and learn which Taijiquan is best for you.
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