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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from T'ai chi ch'uan)
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T‘ai-Chi Ch‘üan / Taijiquan
(太極拳)
The lower dantian in Taijiquan:Yin and Yang rotate, whilethe core reverts to stillness (wuji)
The lower dantian in Taijiquan:
Yin and Yang rotate, while
the core reverts to stillness (wuji)
Yang Chengfu in a posture fromthe Yang-style t'ai chi ch'uan solo formknown as Single Whip c. 1931
Yang Chengfu in a posture from
the Yang-style t'ai chi ch'uan solo form
known as Single Whip c. 1931
Also known as Taijizhang;[1]
t‘ai-chi; taiji
Focus Chinese Taoist
Hardness Forms competition,
Light contact (pushing hands, no strikes),
Full contact (strikes, kicks, throws, etc.)
Country of origin China
Creator Said to be Zhang Sanfeng
Famous practitioners Chen Wangting,
Chen Changxing,
Chen Fake,
Yang Luchan,
Yang Chengfu,
Wu Ch'uan-yu,
Wu Chien-ch'uan,
Wu Yu-hsiang,
Sun Lu-t'ang,
Wang Pei-sheng
Olympic sport Demonstration only
Tai chi
Taijiquan (Chinese characters).svg
Tàijí quán in Traditional (top) and Simplified (bottom) Chinese characters
Traditional Chinese 太極拳
Simplified Chinese 太极拳
Literal meaning "Supreme Ultimate Boxing"

T'ai-Chi (Simplified Chinese: 太极拳 / Traditional : Chinese: 太極, an abbreviation of tàijíquán Chinese: 太極拳, literally "Taiji Fist") is an internal Chinese martial art 武術 practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits. The term Taiji refers to a philosophy of the forces of yin and yang, related to the moves. Though originally conceived as a martial art, it is also typically practiced for a variety of other personal reasons: competitive wrestling in the format of pushing hands (tui shou), demonstration competitions, and achieving greater longevity. As a result, a multitude of training forms exist, both traditional and modern, which correspond to those aims with differing emphasis. Some training forms of tàijíquán are especially known for being practiced with relatively slow movements.

Today, tàijíquán has spread worldwide. Most modern styles of tàijíquán trace their development to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu (Hao), Wu, and Sun. All of the former, in turn, trace their historical origins to Chen Village.

Overview[edit]

The concept of the taiji ("supreme ultimate"), in contrast with wuji ("without ultimate"), appears in both Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy, where it represents the fusion or mother[2] of yin and yang into a single ultimate, represented by the taijitu symbol Taijitu - Small (CW).svg. Tàijíquán theory and practice evolved in agreement with many Chinese philosophical principles, including those of Taoism and Confucianism.

Tàijíquánn training involves five elements, taolu (solo hand and weapons routines/forms), neigong and qigong (breathing, movement and awareness exercises and meditation), tuishou (response drills) and sanshou (self defence techniques). While tàijíquán is typified by some for its slow movements, many styles (including the three most popular: Yang, Wu and Chen) have secondary forms with faster pace. Some traditional schools teach partner exercises known as tuishou ("pushing hands"), and martial applications of the postures of different forms (taolu).

In China, tàijíquán is categorized under the Wudang grouping of Chinese martial arts[3]—that is, the arts applied with internal power.[4] Although the term Wudang suggests these arts originated in the Wudang Mountains, it is simply used to distinguish the skills, theories and applications of neijia (internal arts) from those of the Shaolin grouping, or waijia (hard or external) styles.[5]

Since the earliest widespread promotion of the health benefits of tàijíquán by Yang Shaohou, Yang Chengfu, Wu Chien-ch‘üan and Sun Lutang in the early 20th century,[6] it has developed a worldwide following of people, often with little or no interest in martial training, for its benefit to personal health.[7] Medical studies of t‘ai-chi support its effectiveness as an alternative exercise and a form of martial arts therapy.

It is purported that focusing the mind solely on the movements of the form helps to bring about a state of mental calm and clarity. Besides general health benefits and stress management attributed to tàijíquán training, aspects of traditional Chinese medicine are taught to advanced students in some traditional schools.[8]

Some other forms of martial arts require students to wear a uniform during practice. In general, tàijíquán schools do not require a uniform, but both traditional and modern teachers often advocate loose, comfortable clothing and flat-soled shoes.[9][10]

The physical techniques of tàijíquán are described in the "T‘ai-chi classics", a set of writings by traditional masters, as being characterized by the use of leverage through the joints based on coordination and relaxation, rather than muscular tension, in order to neutralize, yield or initiate attacks. The slow, repetitive work involved in the process of learning how that leverage is generated gently and measurably increases, opens the internal circulation (breath, body heat, blood, lymph, peristalsis).

The study of tàijíquán primarily involves three aspects:

  • Health: An unhealthy or otherwise uncomfortable person may find it difficult to meditate to a state of calmness or to use tàijíquán as a martial art. Tàijíquán's health training, therefore, concentrates on relieving the physical effects of stress on the body and mind. For those focused on tàijíquán's martial application, good physical fitness is an important step towards effective self-defense.
  • Meditation: The focus and calmness cultivated by the meditative aspect of tàijíquán is seen as necessary in maintaining optimum health (in the sense of relieving stress and maintaining homeostasis) and in application of the form as a soft style martial art.
  • Martial art: The ability to use tàijíquán as a form of self-defense in combat is the test of a student's understanding of the art. Tàijíquán is the study of appropriate change in response to outside forces, the study of yielding and sticking to an incoming attack rather than attempting to meet it with opposing force.[11] The use of tàijíquán as a martial art is quite challenging and requires a great deal of training.[12]

Name[edit]

Tàijíquán and T‘ai-chi ch‘üan are two different transcriptions of three Chinese characters that are the written Chinese name for the artform:

Characters Wade–Giles Pinyin Meaning
太極 t‘ai chi tàijí the source, the beginning
ch‘üan quán fist, boxing

Despite the one Chinese spelling, 太極拳, there are two different spellings in the English usage, one derived from the Wade–Giles and the other from the Pinyin transcription. Most Westerners often shorten this name to t‘ai chi (often omitting the aspirate sign—thus becoming "tai chi"). This shortened name is the same as that of the t‘ai-chi philosophy, sometimes causing confusion of the two. The chi in the name of the martial art may also be mistaken for ch‘i, (qi 氣) the "life force," especially as ch‘i is involved in the practice of t‘ai-chi ch‘üan.
Most Chinese, including many professional practitioners, masters, and martial arts bodies (such as the IWUF[13]), use the Pinyin version.

Historical origin[edit]

From a modern historical perspective, when tracing tàijíquán's formative influences to Taoist and Buddhist monasteries, there seems little more to go on than legendary tales. Nevertheless, some traditional schools claim that tàijíquán has a practical connection to and dependence upon the theories of Song dynasty Neo-Confucianism (a conscious synthesis of Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian traditions, especially the teachings of Mencius).[5] These schools believe that tàijíquán's theories and practice were formulated by the Taoist monk Zhang Sanfeng in the 12th century, at about the same time that the principles of the Neo-Confucian school were making themselves felt in Chinese intellectual life.[5] However, modern research casts serious doubts on the validity of those claims, pointing out that a 17th-century piece called "Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan" (1669), composed by Huang Zongxi (1610–1695), is the earliest reference indicating any connection between Zhang Sanfeng and martial arts whatsoever, and must not be taken literally but must be understood as a political metaphor instead. Claims of connections between tàijíquán and Zhang Sanfeng appeared no earlier than the 19th century.[14]

History records that Yang Luchan trained with the Chen family for 18 years before he started to teach the art in Beijing, which strongly suggests that his art was based on, or heavily influenced by, the Chen family art. The Chen family are able to trace the development of their art back to Chen Wangting in the 17th century. Martial arts historian Xu Zhen believed that the Taiji of Chen Village had been influenced by the Taizu changquan style practiced at the nearby Shaolin Monastery, while Tang Hao thought it was derived from a treatise by the Ming dynasty general Qi Jiguang, Jixiao Xinshu ("New Treatise on Military Efficiency"), which discussed several martial arts styles including Taizu changquan.[15][16]

What is now known as tàijíquán appears to have received this appellation from only around the mid of the 19th century.[14] A scholar in the Imperial Court by the name of Ong Tong He witnessed a demonstration by Yang Luchan at a time before Yang had established his reputation as a teacher. Afterwards Ong wrote: "Hands holding Taiji shakes the whole world, a chest containing ultimate skill defeats a gathering of heroes." Before this time the art may have had a number of different names, and appears to have been generically described by outsiders as zhan quan (沾拳, "touch boxing"), Mian Quan ("soft boxing") or shisan shi (十三式, "the thirteen techniques").[citation needed]

History and styles[edit]

There are five major styles of tàijíquán, each named after the Chinese family from which it originated:

The order of verifiable age is as listed above. The order of popularity (in terms of number of practitioners) is Yang, Wu, Chen, Sun and Wu/Hao.[5] The major family styles share much underlying theory, but differ in their approaches to training.

There are now dozens of new styles, hybrid styles, and offshoots of the main styles, but the five family schools are the groups recognized by the international community as being the orthodox styles. Other important styles are Zhaobao tàijíquán, a close cousin of Chen style, which has been newly recognized by Western practitioners as a distinct style, the Fu style, created by Fu Chen Sung, which evolved from Chen, Sun and Yang styles, and also incorporates movements from Baguazhang (Pa Kua Chang)[citation needed] and the Cheng Man-ch'ing style which is a simplification of the traditional Yang style.

Wu-style master Eddie Wu demonstrating the form "Grasp the bird's tail" at a tournament in Toronto, Canada

Most existing styles can be traced back to the Chen style, which had been passed down as a family secret for generations. The Chen family chronicles record Chen Wangting, of the family's 9th generation, as the inventor of what is known today as tàijíquán. Yang Luchan became the first person outside the family to learn tàijíquán. His success in fighting earned him the nickname Yang Wudi, which means "Unbeatable Yang", and his fame and efforts in teaching greatly contributed to the subsequent spreading of tàijíquán knowledge.[citation needed] The designation internal or neijia martial arts is also used to broadly distinguish what are known as the external or waijia styles based on the Shaolinquan styles, although that distinction is sometimes disputed by modern schools. In this broad sense, all styles of t'ai chi, as well as related arts such as Baguazhang and Xingyiquan, are, therefore, considered to be "soft" or "internal" martial arts.


Differences between Chen, Yang and Wu styles[edit]

Differences among styles can be relatively minor and include the speed at which motions are performed, the order of poses, the size of the movements, and hand orientation. A larger difference is the way in which the movements are performed. For example, the form "Parting the wild horse's mane" in Yang style bears no resemblance to the same movement in Sun style, and the Sun 73 forms can be performed in the same time as the Yang 24 forms.[citation needed] Differences also exist within the same style: depending on the teacher's lineage, Yang Short Form can be counted as 103, 108 or 122 separate poses.

Tempo

  • Chen style involves starting each move from a near-stationary position, punctuated by sudden bursts of speed and power to complete each movement.
  • Yang and Wu styles are more-evenly paced and appear more fluid and continuous.

Size of movement

  • Chen style involves large movements where the limbs are extended a large distance from the body, and stances are deep (with knees and hips bent more).
  • Wu style is compact, keeping the hands close to the body, and the stance is high (knees and hips are bent less).
  • Yang style is intermediate between the two, though closer to Chen than to Wu.

Reasons for differences[edit]

Yang Luchan, founder of Yang style, originally taught Chen style as he had learned. Over time, he reasoned that when fighting, people did not adopt the deep stances taught—thus he raised the stance. Movements slowed as it was easier to speed-up a correct movement performed slowly than to increase precision in a fast movement.

Chen style was developed for use against armoured opponents. Yang style was developed when use of armour had decreased (and additional changes were introduced in the early 20th century by Yang Cheng Fu). Wu style is even more remote from armour.

In order to make the style easier to learn, the Yang Short Form was developed which incorporates around 100 postures, as opposed to around 300 of the long form. New Zealand-based teacher Hu Loo-Chi said the 84 postures could be learnt in around 14 hours, though it would take a lifetime to master them.

Over time, unintentional differences may accumulate in the way a style is taught by a particular teacher or school. Periodically, some teachers may update or amend their teaching after studying with the current lineage holder or another teacher closer to the lineage holder. This serves to correct any errors that may have arisen in transmission of the style, as well as incorporating changes made by the current lineage holder. Without a formal system of accreditation or standardization, such refreshment is optional. This accumulation of errors as well as personal preference by the teacher accounts for variation in styles.

Tàijíquán in the United States[edit]

Choy Hok Pang, a disciple of Yang Chengfu, was the first known proponent of tàijíquán to openly teach in the United States in 1939. Subsequently, his son and student Choy Kam Man emigrated to San Francisco from Hong Kong in 1949 to teach t‘ai-chi ch‘üan in San Francisco's Chinatown. Choy Kam Man taught until he died in 1994.[17][18]

Sophia Delza, a professional dancer and student of Ma Yueliang, performed the first known public demonstration of tàijíquán in the United States at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1954. She also wrote the first English language book on t‘ai-chi, "T‘ai-chi ch‘üan: Body and Mind in Harmony", in 1961. She taught regular classes at Carnegie Hall, the Actors Studio, and the United Nations.[19][20]

Another early practitioner of tàijíquán to openly teach in the United States was Zheng Manqing, who opened his school Shr Jung t‘ai-chi after he moved to New York from Taiwan in year 1964. Unlike the older generation of practitioners, Zheng was cultured and educated in American ways,[clarification needed] and thus he was able to transcribe Yang's dictation into a written manuscript that became the de facto manual for Yang style. Zheng felt Yang's traditional 108-movement long form was unnecessarily long and repetitive, which makes it difficult to learn and make progress.[citation needed] He thus created a shortened 37-movement version and taught that in his schools. Zheng's form became very popular and was the dominant form in the eastern USA until other teachers started to emigrate to the USA in larger numbers in the 90's. He taught until his death in 1975.[21]

T‘ai-chi ch‘üan lineage tree[edit]

Note:

  • This lineage tree is not comprehensive, but depicts those considered the "gate-keepers" and most recognised individuals in each generation of the respective styles.
  • Although many styles were passed down to respective descendants of the same family, the lineage focused on is that of the martial art and its main styles, not necessarily that of the families.
  • Each (coloured) style depicted below has a lineage tree on its respective article page that is focused on that specific style, showing a greater insight into the highly significant individuals in its lineage.
  • Names denoted by an asterisk are legendary or semi-legendary figures in the lineage; while their involvement in the lineage is accepted by most of the major schools, it is not independently verifiable from known historical records.
Key:
Solid lines Direct teacher-student. (张三丰)
Zhang Sanfeng*
c. 12th century
NEIJIA
Dashed lines Individual(s) omitted. Various Daoists Legendary figures
Dotted lines Partial influence
/taught informally
/limited time.
(王宗岳)
Wang Zongyue*
TAIJIQUAN
Dashed cross Branch continues.
(陈王庭)
Chen Wangting
1580–1660
CHEN-STYLE
(蒋法)
Jiang Fa
Zhaobao-style
(陈汝信)
Chen Ruxin
2nd gen. Chen
(陈所乐)
Chen Suole
2nd gen. Chen
(邢喜怀)
Xing Xihuai
2nd gen. Zhaobao
(陈大鹍)
Chen Dakun
3rd gen. Chen
(陈大鹏)
Chen Dapeng
3rd gen. Chen
(陈光印)
Chen Guangyin
3rd gen. Chen
(陈申如)
Chen Shenru
3rd gen. Chen
(陈恂如)
Chen Xunru
3rd gen. Chen
(陈正如)
Chen Zhengru
3rd gen. Chen
(张楚臣)
Zhang Chuchen
3rd gen. Zhaobao
(陈善通)
Chen Shantong
4th gen. Chen
(陈善志)
Chen Shanzhi
4th gen. Chen
(陈继夏)
Chen Jixia
4th gen. Chen
(陈节)
Chen Jie
4th gen. Chen
(陈敬伯)
Chen Jingbo
4th gen. Chen
4th gen. Zhaobao
(陈秉奇)
Chen Bingqi
5th gen. Chen
(陈秉壬)
Chen Bingren
5th gen. Chen
(陈秉旺)
Chen Bingwang
1748–?
5th gen. Chen
(陈公兆)
Chen Gongzhao
1715– after1795
5th gen. Chen
(张宗禹)
Zhang Zongyu
5th gen. Zhaobao
(陈长兴)
Chen Changxing
1771–1853
6th gen. Chen
Chen Old Frame
(陈有本)
Chen Youben
c. 19th century
6th gen. Chen
Chen Small Frame
(张彦)
Zhang Yan
6th gen. Zhaobao
(陈耕耘)
Chen Gengyun
7th gen. Chen
(杨露禅)
Yang Luchan
1799–1872
YANG-STYLE
Guang Ping Yang
Yangjia Michuan
(陈清萍)
Chen Qingping
1795–1868
7th gen. Chen
7th gen. Zhaobao
(陈延熙)
Chen Yanxi
8th gen. Chen
(王兰亭)
Wang Lanting
1840–?
2nd gen. Yang
(杨健侯)
Yang Jianhou
1839–1917
2nd gen. Yang
2nd gen. Yangjia Michuan
(杨班侯)
Yang Banhou
1837–1892
2nd gen. Yang
2nd gen.
Guang Ping Yang
Yang Small Frame
(武禹襄)
Wu Yuxiang
1812–1880
WU (HAO)-STYLE
(他招远)
He Zhaoyuan
1810–1890
8th gen. Zhaobao
Zhaobao He-style
(陈发科)
Chen Fake
1887–1957
9th gen. Chen
Chen New Frame
(李瑞东)
Li Ruidong
1851–1917
Li-style
(杨澄甫)
Yang Chengfu
1883–1936
3rd gen. Yang
Yang Big Frame
(杨少侯)
Yang Shaohou
1862–1930
3rd gen. Yang
Yang Small Frame
(吴全佑)
Wu Quanyou
1834–1902
1st gen. Wu
(王矯宇)
Wang Jiaoyu
1836–1939
3rd gen.
Guang Ping Yang
(李亦畬)
Li Yiyu
1832–1892
2nd gen. Wu (Hao)
(和庆喜)
He Qingxi
1857–1936
9th gen. Zhaobao
(陈照丕)
Chen Zhaopi
1893–1972
10th gen. Chen
focused on
Chen Old Frame
(陈照奎)
Chen Zhaokui
1928–1981
10th gen. Chen
focused on
Chen New Frame
(張欽霖)
Zhang Qinlin
1888–1967
3rd gen. Yangjia Michuan
(杨振铎)
Yang Zhenduo
b. 1926
4th gen. Yang
(傅仲文)
Fu Zhongwen
1903–1994
4th gen. Yang
Beijing (24) form
(郑曼青)
Zheng Manqing
1902–1975
4th gen. Yang
Short (37) Form
(吴鉴泉)
Wu Jianquan
1870–1942
2nd gen. Wu
WU-STYLE
108 Form
Kuo Lien Ying
1895–1984
4th gen.
Guang Ping Yang
(郝為真)
Hao Weizhen
1849–1920
3rd gen. Wu (Hao)
(郑悟清)
Zheng Wuqing
1895–1984
10th gen. Zhaobao
(吴公儀)
Wu Gongyi
1900–1970
3rd gen. Wu
(孙禄堂)
Sun Lutang
1861–1932
SUN-STYLE
(郝月如)
Hao Yueru
1877–1935
4th gen. Wu (Hao)
(王延年)
Wang Yannian
1914–2008
5th gen. Yang
4th gen. Yangjia Michuan
(鄭天熊)
Zheng Tianxiong
1930–2005
Wudang-style
(吴雁霞)
Wu Yanxia
1930–2001
4th gen. Wu
(孙剑云)
Sun Jianyun
1913–2003
2nd gen. Sun
(郝少如)
Hao Shaoru
1908–1983
5th gen. Wu (Hao)
(陈小旺)
Chen Xiaowang
b. 1945
11th gen. Chen
(陈小星)
Chen Xiaoxing
b. 1952
11th gen. Chen
(杨军)
Yang Jun
b. 1968
5th gen. Yang
(吴光宇)
Wu Guangyu
b. 1946
5th gen. Wu
(孙永田)
Sun Yongtian
b. ?
3rd gen. Sun
(刘积顺)
Liu Jishun
b. 1930
6th gen. Wu (Hao)
CHEN-STYLE YANG-STYLE WU-STYLE SUN-STYLE WU (HAO)-STYLE

Modern forms[edit]

The Cheng Man-ch‘ing (Zheng Manqing) and Chinese Sports Commission short forms are derived from Yang family forms, but neither is recognized as Yang family tàijíquán by standard-bearing Yang family teachers. The Chen, Yang, and Wu families are now promoting their own shortened demonstration forms for competitive purposes.


 
 
 
 
(杨澄甫)
Yang Chengfu
1883–1936
3rd gen. Yang
Yang Big Frame
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(郑曼青)
Zheng Manqing
1902–1975
4th gen. Yang
Short (37) Form
 
Chinese Sports Commission
1956
Beijing (24) Form
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1989
42 Competition Form
(Wushu competition form
combined from
Chen, Yang, Wu & Sun styles)

Tàijíquán today[edit]

Outdoor practice in Beijing's Temple of Heaven.

In the last twenty years or so, tàijíquán classes that purely emphasise health have become popular in hospitals, clinics, as well as community and senior centres. This has occurred as the baby boomers generation has aged and the art's reputation as a low-stress training method for seniors has become better known.[22][23]

As a result of this popularity, there has been some divergence between those that say they practice tàijíquán primarily for self-defence, those that practice it for its aesthetic appeal (see wushu below), and those that are more interested in its benefits to physical and mental health. The wushu aspect is primarily for show; the forms taught for those purposes are designed to earn points in competition and are mostly unconcerned with either health maintenance or martial ability. More traditional stylists believe the two aspects of health and martial arts are equally necessary: the yin and yang of tàijíquán. The tàijíquán "family" schools, therefore, still present their teachings in a martial art context, whatever the intention of their students in studying the art.[24]

Tàijíquán as sport[edit]

In order to standardize t‘ai-chi ch‘üan for wushu tournament judging, and because many tàijíquán teachers have either moved out of China or had been forced to stop teaching after the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the government sponsored the Chinese Sports Committee, who brought together four of their wushu teachers to truncate the Yang family hand form to 24 postures in 1956. They wanted to retain the look of tàijíquán, but create a routine that would be less difficult to teach and much less difficult to learn than longer (in general, 88 to 108 posture), classical, solo hand forms. In 1976, they developed a slightly longer form also for the purposes of demonstration that still would not involve the complete memory, balance, and coordination requirements of the traditional forms. This became the "Combined 48 Forms" that were created by three wushu coaches, headed by Men Hui Feng. The combined forms were created based on simplifying and combining some features of the classical forms from four of the original styles: Chen, Yang, Wu, and Sun. As tàijíquán again became popular on the mainland, more competitive forms were developed to be completed within a six-minute time limit. In the late 1980s, the Chinese Sports Committee standardized many different competition forms. They developed sets to represent the four major styles as well as combined forms. These five sets of forms were created by different teams, and later approved by a committee of wushu coaches in China. All sets of forms thus created were named after their style: the "Chen-style national competition form" is the "56 Forms". The combined forms are "The 42-Form" or simply the "Competition Form". Another modern form is the "97 movements combined t‘ai-chi ch‘üan form", created in the 1950s; it contains characteristics of the Yang, Wu, Sun, Chen, and Fu styles blended into a combined form. The wushu coach Bow Sim Mark is a notable exponent of the "67 combined form".

These modern versions of tàijíquán have since become an integral part of international wushu tournament competition, and have been featured in popular movies, starring or choreographed by well-known wushu competitors, such as Jet Li and Donnie Yen.

In the 11th Asian Games of 1990, wushu was included as an item for competition for the first time with the 42-Form being chosen to represent t‘ai-chi ch‘üan. The International Wushu Federation (IWUF) applied for wushu to be part of the Olympic games, but will not count medals.[25]

Practitioners also test their practical martial skills against students from other schools and martial arts styles in tuishou ("pushing hands") and sanshou competition.

Philosophy[edit]

The philosophy of tàijíquán is that, if one uses hardness to resist violent force, then both sides are certainly to be injured at least to some degree. Such injury, according to tàijíquán, is a natural consequence of meeting brute force with brute force. Instead, students are taught not to directly fight or resist an incoming force, but to meet it in softness and follow its motion while remaining in physical contact until the incoming force of attack exhausts itself or can be safely redirected, meeting yang with yin. When done correctly, this yin/yang or yang/yin balance in combat, or in a broader philosophical sense, is a primary goal of tàijíquán training. Lao Tzŭ provided the archetype for this in the Tao Te Ching when he wrote, "The soft and the pliable will defeat the hard and strong."

Traditional schools also emphasize that one is expected to show wude ("martial virtue/heroism"), to protect the defenseless, and show mercy to one's opponents.[6]

Training and techniques[edit]

The core training involves two primary features: the first being taolu (solo "forms"), a slow sequence of movements which emphasize a straight spine, abdominal breathing and a natural range of motion; the second being different styles of tuishou ("pushing hands") for training movement principles of the form with a partner and in a more practical manner.

Forms[edit]

Solo (taolu, neigong and qigong)[edit]

Painting in Chenjiagou, illustrating taolu according to the Chen style of tàijíquán.

The taolu (solo "forms") should take the students through a complete, natural range of motion over their centre of gravity. Accurate, repeated practice of the solo routine is said to retrain posture, encourage circulation throughout the students' bodies, maintain flexibility through their joints, and further familiarize students with the martial application sequences implied by the various forms. The major traditional styles of tàijíquán have forms that differ somewhat in terms of aesthetics, but there are also many obvious similarities that point to their common origin. The solo forms (empty-hand and weapon) are catalogues of movements that are practised individually in pushing hands and martial application scenarios to prepare students for self-defence training. In most traditional schools, different variations of the solo forms can be practised: fast / slow, small-circle / large-circle, square / round (which are different expressions of leverage through the joints), low-sitting / high-sitting (the degree to which weight-bearing knees are kept bent throughout the form), for example.

Breathing exercises; neigong (internal skill) or, more commonly, qigong (life energy cultivation) are practiced to develop qi (life energy) in coordination with physical movement and zhan zhuang (standing like a post) or combinations of the two. These were formerly taught only to disciples as a separate, complementary training system. In the last 60 years they have become better known to the general public.

Qigong versus tàijíquán[edit]

Qigong involves coordinated movement, breath, and awareness used for health, meditation, and martial arts training. While many scholars and practitioners consider tàijíquán to be a type of qigong,[26][27] the two are commonly distinguished as separate but closely related practices, with qigong playing an important role in training for tàijíquán, and with many tàijíquán movements performed as part of qigong practice. The focus of qigong is typically more on health or meditation than martial applications. Internally the main difference is the flow of qi. In qigong, the flow of qi is held at a gate point for a moment to aid the opening and cleansing of the channels.[clarification needed] In tàijíquán, the flow of qi is continuous, thus allowing the development of power for the use by the practitioner.

Partnered (tuishou and sanshou)[edit]

Two students receive instruction in tuishou ("pushing hands"), one of the core training exercises of t‘ai-chi ch‘üan.

Tàijíquán's martial aspect relies on sensitivity to the opponent's movements and centre of gravity dictating appropriate responses. Effectively affecting the opponent's centre of gravity immediately upon contact, is trained as the primary goal of the martial t‘ai-chi ch‘üan student.[8] The sensitivity needed to capture the centre is acquired over thousands of hours of first yin (slow, repetitive, meditative, low-impact) and then later adding yang (realistic, active, fast, high-impact) martial training through taolu (forms), tuishou (pushing hands), and sanshou (sparring). Tàijíquán trains in three basic ranges: close, medium and long, and then everything in between. Pushes and open-hand strikes are more common than punches, and kicks are usually to the legs and lower torso, never higher than the hip, depending on style. The fingers, fists, palms, sides of the hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, back, hips, knees, and feet are commonly used to strike, with strikes to the eyes, throat, heart, groin, and other acupressure points trained by advanced students. Chin na, which are joint traps, locks, and breaks are also used. Most tàijíquán teachers expect their students to thoroughly learn defensive or neutralizing skills first, and a student will have to demonstrate proficiency with them before offensive skills will be extensively trained.

In addition to the physical form, martial tàijíquán schools also focus on how the energy of a strike affects the other person. A palm strike that looks to have the same movement may be performed in such a way that it has a completely different effect on the target's body. A palm strike that could simply push the opponent backward, could instead be focused in such a way as to lift the opponent vertically off the ground, breaking his/her centre of gravity; or that it could terminate the force of the strike within the other person's body with the intent of causing internal damage.

Most aspects of a trainee's tàijíquán development are meant to be covered within the partnered practice of tuishou, and so, sanshou (sparring) is not as commonly used as a method of training, but more advanced students sometimes do practice by sanshou. Sanshou is more common to tournaments such as wushu tournaments.

Weapons[edit]

Taijijian
A pair of jian with their scabbards.
Wushu jian pair event at the 10th All China games.

Variations of tàijíquán involving weapons also exist. The weapons training and fencing applications employ:

  • the jian, a straight double-edged sword, practiced as taijijian;
  • the dao, a heavier curved saber, sometimes called a broadsword;
  • the tieshan, a folding fan, also called shan and practiced as taijishan;
  • the gun, a 2m long wooden staff and practiced as taijigun;
  • the qiang, a 2m long spear or a 4m long lance.
A matched set of two feng huo lun.

More exotic weapons still used by some traditional styles include:

Health[edit]

A Chinese woman performs Yang-style tàijíquán

Tàijíquán has been reported as being useful in treating a number of human ailments, and is supported by a number of associations, including the National Parkinson Foundation and Diabetes Australia. However, medical evidence of effectiveness was lacking and in recent years research has been undertaken to address this.[28][29]

A 2011 comprehensive overview of all the existing systematic reviews of tàijíquán recommended tàijíquán to older people for its various physical and psychological benefits. There was no conclusive evidence of benefit for any of the other conditions researched, including Parkinson's disease, diabetes, cancer and arthritis.[28]

A 2015 systematic review found tàijíquán could be performed by those with chronic medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, and osteoarthritis without worsening shortness of breath and pain, and found favorable effects on functional exercise capacity in people with these conditions.[30]

In 2015 the Australian Government's Department of Health published the results of a review of alternative therapies that sought to determine if any were suitable for being covered by health insurance; t‘ai-chi was one of 17 therapies evaluated for which no clear evidence of effectiveness was found.[29]

Legends and anecdotes[edit]

Yang Chengfu utilizing one of the many possible applications of the Single Whip technique.
  • During the Qing dynasty, a man named Wang Yuanwai living in Beipinggao village (about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) east of Chenjiagou), was threatened with death by a gang of highwaymen with bladed weapons, unless he surrendered his valuables. He sent for assistance from Chen Suole (see the lineage tree above), who was away according to his sons Chen Shenru and Chen Xunru – despite their being only around fifteen and sixteen years old, the boys volunteered their own help instead. They convinced the messenger to tell Wang Yuanwai to give the bandits liquor, discussed a plan and that night, traveled to the Wang residence in Beipinggao, where they jumped over the fence of the rear garden and there found Wang Yuanwai. He told them that the highwaymen, numbering around twenty, were drunken in his guest hall. While peeping in, Shenru pushed Xunru into the hall and extinguished several candles by throwing a bunch of peas at them. Xunru leapt onto beam and taunted, the panicked bandits who had seemingly started fighting each other, saying, "So you still will not hand over your weapons and surrender? Gods number one and two are here." Some tried to escape the frenzy, but were attacked by Shenru, who was still at the door.[31]
  • In the 1940s, a man known as "Big Spear Liu" came to Shanghai's "big world," the city's major performance and entertainment centre. Liu asked the doorkeeper, "Are there any good hands around here?", looking for a skilled opponent to challenge. The doorkeeper told "Big Spear Liu" of Tian Zhaolin (student of Yang Jianhou). With that Liu set off to find him. He found Tian Zhaolin and immediately demanded to spar by each striking the other three times, to which Tian Zhaolin responded that it may not be necessary. He said, "Just let me touch you. If you can tolerate my touch, you win." Liu, sensing a fool and an effortless victory, immediately agreed. The two men approached and Tian Zhaolin reached out his hand to touch Liu's chest. Within a few moments, Liu's facial muscles started to contort. Soon he grimaced and his face showed signs of intense pain. Spear Liu pulled away and, after recovering, commented, "I have travelled throughout five provinces and various cities but until today I have never seen such a profound skill." Energy, including that of taijiquan, may be thought of as transmission by wave. Earlier generation adepts in taijiquan had an expression—"hitting the cow on this side of the Mountain." This phrase referred to hitting an opponent's front side with the pain and effect being felt on the back side. In years past, people who sparred with Yang Shaohou often described him as also having an energy like electricity. That is, it caused very painful sensations in the muscle and even on the skin surface. Tian Zhaolin, coming from that background, also knew this method.[32]
  • In 1945, Hu Yuen Chou, a student of Yang Chengfu, defeated a Russian boxer by TKO in a full-contact match in Fut San, China.
  • At the age of 60, Huang Sheng Shyan demonstrated his abilities in taijiquan by defeating Liao Kuang-Cheng, the Asian champion wrestler, 26 throws to 0 in a fund raising event in Kuching, Malaysia.[33]

Attire and ranking[edit]

Master Yang Jun in demonstration attire that's come to be identified with taijiquan

In practice traditionally there is no specific uniform required in the practice of tàijíquán. Modern day practitioners usually wear comfortable, loose T-shirts and trousers made from breathable natural fabrics, that allow for free movement during practice. Despite this, t‘ai-chi ch‘üan has become synonymous with "t‘ai-chi uniforms" or "kung fu uniforms" that usually consist of loose-fitting traditional Chinese styled trousers and a long or short-sleeved shirt, with a Mandarin collar and buttoned with Chinese frog buttons. The long-sleeved variants are referred to as Northern-style uniforms, whilst the short-sleeved, Southern-style uniforms. The colour of this clothing is usually, all white, all black, black and white, or any other colour, mostly being either all a single solid colour or a combination of 2 colours: one colour being the actual clothing and the binding being a contrasting colour. They are normally made from natural fabrics such as cotton or silk. These uniforms are not a requirement, but rather are usually worn by masters & professional practitioners during demonstrations, tournaments and other public exhibitions.

There is no standardized tàijíquán ranking system, except the Chinese Wushu Duan wei exam system run by the Chinese wushu association in Beijing. However, most schools do not use belt rankings. Some schools may present students with belts depicting rank, similar to dans in Japanese martial arts. A simple uniform element of respect and allegiance to one's teacher and their methods and community, belts also mark hierarchy, skill, and accomplishment of practice in one school's style and system. During wushu tournaments, masters and grandmasters often wear "kung fu uniforms" which tend to have no belts. Wearing a belt signifying rank in such a situation would be unusual.

Tai Chi as a generic brand[edit]

Taijiquan form (Taijiquan Taolu) at the Associació Catalana de Choy Li Fut, Tai Chi Chuan i Chi Kung.

From roughly the mid-1990s onward, Tai Chi has gained a popularity in some countries to the point of it becoming nearly as known as a health-oriented practice as Yoga. In fact, in modern times it is even more known for such benefits and methods of practice than it is known for its original purpose[citation needed].

A new phenomenon (since the 2000s) is of various martial arts styles claiming a historical relationship or otherwise with Taiji Quan, because of its popularity. A branch of Lama Pai known as "Tibetan White Crane" had popularized a slow-movement form by naming it "Needle in Cotton" (a common term describing Taiji Quan mechanics), and referring to its practice as "Tai Chi". However, there is no relationship between these arts, historic or otherwise. A similar phenomenon occurs with the usage of the art's name as a universal brand for promoting various fitness programs, books and videos. There is, for instance, a book that describes how to use the training principles of Tai Chi to run better.[34] Regardless of the questions of whether such claims are viable, these are all new trends, which historically were not endorsed or promoted by teachers of the art.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Jwing-Ming Yang. Taijiquan Theory Lecture, Tai Chi Chuan (DVD). YMAA. 
  2. ^ Cheng Man-ch'ing (1993). Cheng-Tzu's Thirteen Treatises on T'ai Chi Ch'uan. North Atlantic Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-938190-45-5. 
  3. ^ Sun Lu Tang (2000). Xing Yi Quan Xue. Unique Publications. p. 3. ISBN 0-86568-185-6. 
  4. ^ Ranne, Nabil. "Internal power in Taijiquan". CTND. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  5. ^ a b c d Wile, Douglas (2007). "Taijiquan and Taoism from Religion to Martial Art and Martial Art to Religion". Journal of Asian Martial Arts. Via Media Publishing. 16 (4). ISSN 1057-8358. 
  6. ^ a b Wile, Douglas (1995). Lost T'ai-chi Classics from the Late Ch'ing Dynasty (Chinese Philosophy and Culture). State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-2654-8. [page needed]
  7. ^ Morris, Kelly (1999). "T'ai Chi gently reduces blood pressure in elderly". The Lancet. 353 (9156): 904. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)75012-1. 
  8. ^ a b Wu, Kung-tsao (2006). Wu Family T'ai Chi Ch'uan (吳家太極拳). Chien-ch'uan T'ai-chi Ch'uan Association. ISBN 0-9780499-0-X. [page needed]
  9. ^ Lam, Dr. Paul. "What should I wear to practice Tai Chi?". Tai Chi for Health Institute. Retrieved 2014-12-29. 
  10. ^ Fu, Zhongwen (2006-06-09). Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan. Louis Swaim. Berkeley, California: Blue Snake Books. ISBN 1-58394-152-5. [page needed][dead link]
  11. ^ Wong Kiew Kit (November 1996). The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan: A Comprehensive Guide to the Principles. Element Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85230-792-9. 
  12. ^ "Tai Chi Push Hands". Northwest Fighting Arts. 
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ a b Henning, Stanley (1994). "Ignorance, Legend and Taijiquan". Journal of the Chen Style Taijiquan Research Association of Hawaii. 2 (3). 
  15. ^ "presents... TAIJIQUAN - Origins and Development of Taijiquan". Chinafrominside.com. Retrieved 2016-08-20. 
  16. ^ "presents... TAIJIQUAN - Brief Analysis of Chen Family Boxing Manuals". Chinafrominside.com. Retrieved 2016-08-20. 
  17. ^ Choy, Kam Man (1985-05-05). Tai Chi Chuan. San Francisco, California: Memorial Edition 1994. 
  18. ^ Logan, Logan (1970). Ting: The Caldron, Chinese Art and Identity in San Francisco. San Francisco, California: Glide Urban Center. 
  19. ^ Dunning, Jennifer (July 7, 1996), Sophia Delza Glassgold, 92, Dancer and Teacher, New York Times 
  20. ^ Inventory of the Sophia Delza Papers, 1908-1996 (PDF), Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, February 2006 
  21. ^ Wolfe Lowenthal (1991). There Are No Secrets: Professor Cheng Man Ch'ing and His Tai Chi Chuan. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-55643-112-8. 
  22. ^ Yip, Y. L. (Autumn 2002). "Pivot – Qi". The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health and Fitness. Insight Graphics Publishers. 12 (3). ISSN 1056-4004. 
  23. ^ "SGMA 2007 Sports & Fitness Participation Report From the USA Sports Participation Study". SGMA. p. 2. Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  24. ^ Woolidge, Doug (June 1997). "T'AI CHI". The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. Wayfarer Publications. 21 (3). ISSN 0730-1049. 
  25. ^ "Wushu likely to be a "specially-set" sport at Olympics". Chinese Olympic Committee. 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-13. 
  26. ^ Yang, Jwing-Ming (1998). The Essence of Taiji Qigong, Second Edition : The Internal Foundation of Taijiquan (Martial Arts-Qigong). YMAA Publication Center. ISBN 978-1-886969-63-6. 
  27. ^ YeYoung, Bing. "Introduction to Taichi and Qigong". YeYoung Culture Studies: Sacramento, CA <http://sactaichi.com>. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  28. ^ a b Lee, M. S.; Ernst, E. (2011). "Systematic reviews of t'ai chi: An overview". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 46 (10): 713–8. PMID 21586406. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2010.080622. 
  29. ^ a b Baggoley C (2015). "Review of the Australian Government Rebate on Natural Therapies for Private Health Insurance" (PDF). Australian Government – Department of Health. Lay summaryGavura, S. Australian review finds no benefit to 17 natural therapies. Science-Based Medicine. (19 November 2015). 
  30. ^ Chen, Yi-Wen; Hunt, Michael A.; Campbell, Kristin L.; Peill, Kortni; Reid, W. Darlene (2015-09-17). "The effect of Tai Chi on four chronic conditions – cancer, osteoarthritis, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analyses". British Journal of Sports Medicine: bjsports–2014–094388. ISSN 1473-0480. PMID 26383108. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-094388. 
  31. ^ The Chen family chronicles[page needed]
  32. ^ Clark, Leroy; Sun, Key. "Tian Zhaolin: A Legacy of Yang Taiji". Art-of-Energetics.com. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  33. ^ "THE TAIJI JOURNEY OF HUANG SHENG-SHYAN". Archived from the original on 2008-06-12. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  34. ^ "Chi Running". Chi Running. Retrieved 2016-08-20. 

Further reading[edit]

Books[edit]

  • David Gaffney & Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim (2014). "The Essence of Taijiquan". Amazon Createspace. ISBN 978-1500609238. 
  • Jonathan Bluestein (2014). Research of Martial Arts. Amazon CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1499122510. 
  • Yang, Yang (2008). Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power. Zhenwu Publication; 2nd edition. ISBN 978-0-9740990-1-9. 
  • Bruce Frantzis (2007). The Power of Internal Martial Arts and Chi: Combat and Energy Secrets of Ba Gua, Tai Chi and Hsing-I. Blue Snake Books. ISBN 978-1583941904. 
  • Davis, Barbara (2004). Taijiquan Classics: An Annotated Translation. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-55643-431-0. 
  • Eberhard, Wolfram (1986). A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols: Hidden Symbols in Chinese Life and Thought. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London. ISBN 0-415-00228-1. 
  • Choy, Kam Man (1985-05-05). Tai Chi Chuan. San Francisco, California: Memorial Edition 1994. 
  • Wile, Douglas (1983). Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions. Sweet Ch'i Press. ISBN 978-0-912059-01-3. 
  • Joey Bond [1] (1999) See Man Jump See God Fall: Tai Chi Vs. Technology. International Promotions Promotion, ISBN 9781579010010

Magazines[edit]

External links[edit]

Videos of the major styles

Videos of strength and fighting techniques of t‘ai-chi ch‘üan

  1. ^ Bond, Joey (1999-06-01). See Man Jump See God Fall: Tai Chi Vs. Technology. International Promotions Promotion Pub. ISBN 9781579010010. 

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