As we have been looking back on who it was that created this style of Martial Arts, perhaps it is time to take a look at, what it all means. There are “MANY” Masters and although the roots of T’ai Chi Ch’uan go back centuries, the principles remain the same.
We know that T’ai Chi in Chinese philosophy means “Supreme Ultimate” and when combined with the word Ch’uan, the words mean Supreme Ultimate Fist. The practice of T’ai Chi Ch’uan embodies two central cores in the human body. Wuji, two Chinese characters meaning “boundless and infinite” and the Yin and Yang, “receptive and active”. In other words, T’ai Chi Ch’uan can be interpreted as an “Inner” harmony used in conjunction with the Fist.
There are 5 different styles of T’ai Chi Ch’uan, all of which are named after the family from which it originated. Starting from oldest to the most recent they are as follows,
Chen style, from Master Chen Wangtin (approx. 1580-1660)
Yang style, from Master Yang Lu-ch’an (1799-1872)
Wu (Hao) style, from Master Wu Yu-hsiang (1812-1880)
Wu style, from Master Wu Ch’uan-yu (1834-1902), followed by his son Chien-ch’uan (1870-1942)
Sun style, from Master Sun Lu-t’ang (1861-1932)
All the above styles adhere to the T’ai Chi Ch’uan Martial Arts, however, the only difference in the 5 styles is their approach to training. As T’ai Chi has now become a Global form of Martial Arts, there are new styles and hybrids emerging with every passing day however, the styles listed above are considered the “Traditional” groups when practicing T’ai Chi Ch’uan.
In T’ai Chi Ch’uan, there are 3 basic aspects when practicing this art.
Health: Good physical fitness is an essential and important aspect in studying this art. T’ai Chi Ch’uan requires a good body core in order to relieve the stress on the body and mind when practicing the art. The same is said with “calmness” when practicing the routines.
Meditation: As T’ai Chi Ch’uan is considered a “Soft” form of the martial Arts, in that the goal is NOT to use physical force, but rather use an “inner” balance or flow when practicing the form, an stress free mind is optimal when doing the routines. A strong mind and inner peace are needed when studying.
Martial Art: The study of T’ai Chi Ch’uan is NOT the use of “Attacking” force but rather it involves the use of outside force as an advantage. It is the study of “Yielding” to an incoming attack and countering this attack in a way , as such, to “counter” this attack by changing the attacks force.
Think Bird and Snake. Study your opponent’s moves and intentions and then use your mind and body to counter their movements in such a way as to make their attack obsolete and futile.
In the 3 basics mentioned above, there are Five (5) Elements involved in the study and training of T’ai Chi Ch’uan:
Taolu- Solo hand and weapons forms.
Neigong and Qigong- Meditation, breathing combined with movement and awareness exercises.
Tuishou- Response drills.
Sanshou- Self defense applications.
Although T’ai Chi Ch’uan may be known for its Slow, Rhythmic movements, some styles do incorporate faster exercises. Yang, Chen and Wu styles for example are among those which require a faster pace at times..
So, with this background on what all is involved in T’ai Chi Ch’uan and it’s disciplines, we will next begin to look at some of the techniques and training. But, you will have to tune in, same channel, different day, for that!!