Tai Chi - Content and Context


One of the legendary and respected founders who created the idea of imitating the flow and motion of the different martial art techniques is Chang San Feng.

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Origin of Tai Chi

From the Land of the Sleeping Giant, China. One of the legendary and respected founders who created the idea of imitating the flow and motion of the different martial art techniques is Chang San Feng. He is said to live during the year 1391 until 1459. Back then, he was living in a monastery named Wu Tang as a monk. By combining the different principles of Taoism, kung fu, and the theory of Yi Jing, he created the ever popular form of meditation, Tai Chi.

Some researches indicated that traces of a wide acceptance of Tai Chi were found in the village of Chen. This was the time of Chen Wang Ting during the early 1600s. Documents have it that this is the place where Tai Chi was born.

Characteristics of Tai Chi

Tai Chi, in a word, literary means "One". Yet in another sense, it means “Supreme Ultimate Fist”. So, with the words combined, Tai Chi is done as one, with or without a partner, with the use of hand gestures and different slow motions. Tai Chi stresses to its practitioners that they must observe proper breathing, and correct posture so as to facilitate the pattern of the flowing Chi. However, Tai Chi can also be used as a form of self-defense but as time has moved forward, the stress has moved away from this and has become more of an exercise or meditation practice.

The Four Schools of Tai Chi

Today, there are four popular schools of Tai Chi – Yang, Wu, Sun and Chen. These four are all unique in appearance and method of instruction but all follows the fundamentals of the basic principles applied in ancient Tai Chi that consists of cultivation of chi, correct posture and principles of breathing. Learn the four schools of Tai Chi

Yang Style - The Whole Body

Yang style is probably the most famous and popular form of Tai Chi. In this kind of style, the body emphasizes a consistency regarding its movement speed, smoothness and slow but refined motion with continuity through the entire session. There are no moves that will isolate one part of your body, thus, enhancing every part and move at the same time. Relative to stances, they are wide and high. Your back foot must maintain a 45 degree form in a front stance.

Chen Style - Similar to Traditional Kung Fu

May be quite similar to the traditional style of kung fu wherein stances are opposite to that of the Yang and Wu styles. All stances are often done in a low state and have a bit of an external feeling.

When the Chen style of Tai Chi is performed, it features a motion that is in slow portions but then builds a stronger inner chi. it also exhibits a more explosive form with a fast turning when attacking. The back foot remains the same with the Yang style but as to being straight, it maintains a bent back knee.

Sun Style - Combines Three Major Martial Arts

This type of Tai Chi was created in the year 1914 by Sun Lu Tang. He was already renowned in the world of martial arts at that time. He trained extensively in Hsing I, Bagua, and Shaolin Kung Fu. By combining the three together with the theory supported by Yi Jing, principles of Taoism, and Qigong, he created a new and unique style of Tai Chi.

Wu Style - Reaching and Leaning, Controlled and Slow

Considered as the youngest, it represents high stances and much more slower movements. The front stances are parallel. This newer form of Tai Chi introduces a lot of reaching and leaning movements that are more controlled and slower than the rest.

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Tai Chi: Content and Context - Copyright 2013 by Donovan Baldwin

Page Updated 2:58 PM Friday 1/11/2013