Tai Chi Chuan, Taiji, or most commonly referred to in the West as Tai Chi, is an internal Martial Arts
system of Kung Fu originating from China and created according to legend, by a Doaist monk in the 12 the century, named Zhang Sanfeng. Much like many Kung Fu systems, the true founder or history of Tai Chi is based on mostly around legend, with historical records being lost or destroyed over the centuries. Although unlike most martial arts, Tai Chi is closely if not completely linked to a religion, specifically the Chinese religion of Daoism or Taoism and Buddhism, closely tying religious and philosophical principles into the philosophy of the martial art itself. It is also widely regarded throughout the world, less as a combat system and more as a form a moving mediation or system of health practice, much like Yoga. Most people who practice Tai Chi only focus on the internal health aspects, while forgetting about the combat uses, which are closely entwined to why it was created.
There are currently five main branches of Tai Chi systems, each started by different founders or families and each with their own forms, philosophies, histories. The five are: Chen-Style, Yang-Style, Wu (Hao)-Style, Wu-Style, and Sun-Style. In this particular post I will be covering Yang-Style because it is the one I am most familiar with, one of the most practiced style, and the one have the most access to. I will feature a short history of the Yang system, a small audio clip from Yang Tai Chi Master Phu Ngo and the fist portion on the Yang Style form.
Yang Family Tai Chi or the Yang-Style of Tai Chi is widely recognized as the most popular form of the system and the most practiced throughout the world. It was founded by Yang Lu-Ch’an in the 19th century, who originally learned the Chen-Style of Tai Chi, before adapting the system into his own, which he passed onto his son Yang Ban-Hou and the Imperial Guard of China. The Yang Family Tree provided in the hyper link, displays the vast amount of teachers within the family itself who have spread the system through out the world. Yang Style has two main forms that are used, the long form and the short form, along with a 16 step form commissioned by the Chinese Government and the Qi-Gong warm-ups.
Yang Tai Chi, and really all Tai Chi, is a system that focuses on skill and sensitivity, unlike most systems which rely on strength, size, and external abilities. The system focuses heavily on form and slow movements, making one’s techniques precise and perfect. This has however, been lost over the years with most practitioners only practicing Qi-Gong, which is more or less a Tai Chi warm-up. Literally meant to elevate chi levels in the bodies internals, warming the body, and to sharpen form practice, a pre-workout if you will. But, as you heard from the audio interview, Tai Chi is also a combat style and can elevate any martial arts system by helping the practitioner become more sensitive and to really on his skill, rather than physical abilities.
If you would like to learn more about Tai Chi or Yang Style Tai Chi you should visit these sites I have provided: