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Taichiquan,the Wisdom of Yin and Yang

Once upon a time, there lived an old wise man in China who had three clever and brave sons. One day, he sent them to study wrestling, boxing and Taichiquan respectively. Three years passed, he let them compete with each other. The wrestler won the boxer, and the boxer won the Taijiquan learner. The old man said nothing and let them continue the training. Five years later, his three sons came back and had a contest again. This time the boxer won the wrestler, and the wrestler won the Taijiquan learner. The old man stayed silent and ordered them to continue study. Ten years later, the Taichiquan learner won the boxer and wrestler in the end. This story indicates it needs years' long practice to reveal the magical secret of Taichiquan(literally means the Supreme Ultimate Fist), to touch the core of it and to derive infinite power through it.

Taichiquan is more than the Taichi gymnastics we see in the squares or parks performed by large groups in the morning. Nourished by the profound and rich traditional Chinese culture, it has evolved into a symbol of philosophy and wisdom in the essential part. That is why those who ignored the spiritual content of Taichiquan failed to seize its core despite of lifelong practice.

The aim of Taichiquan is not to win or to attack others, but to defense and to improve yourself. Slow motion, yield to exterior forces and counter it by softness as well as let the rivals defeat themselves are its distinctive features. One short-cut to learn Taichiquan is try to catch the essence of traditional Chinese culture embodied by Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism, to grasp of truth and meaning of life and to cultivate a pure and harmonious inner world. It is an art of coordination between human and nature, body and soul, thus is not suitable for those ambitious and aggressive persons. The moment you realize this point, you are entering the doorway of its mysterious kingdom.

Overview of Taichiquan



 Perform Taichiquan



 Fu Xishi, the writer of Yijing

Four Influences shaped Taichiquan

YI: Yin and Yang. Simply put, Taichiquan is to apply the concept of Yin and Yang to every form of boxing, thus forming the Taichiquan.

Daoism: Taichiquan is closely associated with Daoism which values mind cultivation and seek balance amid imbalance situations very much. Yu Step(禹步) in Daoism, the oldest health preservation practice, is the forerunner to today’s Taichi Round Step. Principles include borrow strength of rivals and encounter the hard by soft all stem from Zhuang Zi, and Daoism absorbed and inherited the essence of Zhuang Zi’s philosophy. Thus, Taichiquan well lives up to the fame of national treasure art.

Traditional Chinese Medicine: every movement should be within the endurance limit of our bones to ensure the good conditions of Jingluo.

Martial Art: Taichiquan emphasizes to win the hard by soft, to maintain the flowing and consistent movement and to win the formidable rival by little effort.

Taichiquan is a member of martial art and an sport stemming from ancient China. About its origination, there are four sayings prevail. Xu Xuanping(许宣平) in Tang Dyansty(618-907), Zhang Sanfeng(张三峰) in Song dynasty(960-1278), Zhang Sanfeng(张三丰) and Wang Yuezong(王岳宗)of Ming Dynasty(1368-1644) are all said to be the creator of Taichiquan, and the dispute remains unsettled. It has six sects: Chen Style(陈式) created by Wang Yanchu in the end of Ming dynasty. In 1928, this style established its position;Yang Style(杨式) built by Yang Luchan based on the Chen style; Wu style(吴式) started by a Manchu man named Quan You first, and his son Wu Jianquan improved it and defined it;Wu Style(武式)  created by Wu YuXiang who lived in late Qing period. He studied Chen style first before creating this new style;He style(和式)  founded by Sun Lutang during late Qing period; Sun style(孙式) which blends the essence of Bagua boxing, Xingyi boxing and Taiji boxing successfully because of him.

Features of Taichiquan

Taichiquan features flowing and consistent movements, perfect blending of hardness and softness, gentle and agile gesture as well as calm and graceful air. This sport is natural and elegant. One can appreciate the rhythm of music, the content of philosophy, the aesthetic beauty of postures and the elevated state of mind when practice it in the right way. Taichiquan skills follow the principle of Yin and Yang. Its whole process can be summarized into four words: “引化合发” which means you need to make your rivals take actions first, then you need to direct their strength away, and finally you borrow their strength to fight them back.

Listening skill is greatly valued for Taichiquan practitioners. In order to make quick reactions, they need to predict their rivals’ movement by sight but more importantly, listening. It is not advised to attack initially. Always wait, wait or even make your rivals to move. Once they take actions, you need to be one step ahead of them to hold the situation. Or you can direct their strength away and fight back at their weak point. This unique principle is embodied by pushing hand training and Taolu training. Taichiquan not only can improve our reaction speed, but also enhance our strength and speed.

The motto of Taichiquan is: little can win big, weak can defeat strong, soft can win hard and wait before defense.

As a martial art, Taijiquan is externally a soft exercise, but internally hard, even as it seeks softness. If we are externally soft, after a long time we will naturally develop internal hardness. It’s not that we consciously cultivate hardness, for in reality our mind is on softness. What is difficult is to remain internally reserved, to possess hardness without expressing it, always externally meeting the opponent with softness. Meeting hardness with softness causes the opponent’s hardness to be transformed and disappear into nothingness…-Taijiquan's Yang family

Those who practice Shaolinquan leap about with strength and force; people not proficient at this kind of training soon lose their breath and are exhausted. Taijiquan is unlike this. Strive for quiescence of body, mind and intention. ...The greatest taboo when practicing Taijiquan is to use force. If one can make the entire body loose and open, and be absorbed in the circulation of blood and qi, then after a while one's practice will naturally develop inner jing. This inner energy is extremely soft, so when encountering an opponent one doesn't need to resist at all. The ability to extend and contract in order to follow the opponent's energy is referred to as elastic power within softness. Taijiquan theory states: "From the greatest softness comes the greatest hardness." This is what is meant by softness. - Wu Jianquan in his essay Features of Taijiquan

Sixteen-styles of Tai Chi Chuan

1. Warm up
2. Open up like wild horses
3. Lift like crane wings
4. Knee and Twist go back
5.Move forward, block and thump
6. Close and defense
7. Hook back like a horsewhip
8. Hand wave like playing the lute
9. Rewind brachial
10. Shuttle
11. Hold back like dragging for needles at the bottom of the sea
12. Flash the Back
13. Cloud Hands
14. Embrace the bird tail or so
15. Cross Hands
16. Ending


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