Tai Chi

Tai ChiBrief History and Background of Tai Chi

Tai Chi (English spelling), also known as T’ai chi ch’uan or Taijiquan is a Chinese martial art meaning ‘supreme ultimate fist/boxing’. Most people will associate it with people using it as an exercise carried out in a slow deliberate manner in many parks throught the world, however there are schools who teach the traditional combative style developed by the Chinese.

Tai Chi’s history goes back many centuries, with accounts of various masters practising and teaching the art and has associations with Taoist, Confucian and Ying and Yang philosophies. It’s history and application is complicated in that there are so many variations and styles of the art ranging from a pure health exercise to real self defence training. There are several family styles, such as the Chen style, Yang style, Sun style, Wu Hao style of Wu Yu-hsiang and Wu style of Wu Ch’uan-yü and Wu Chien. As well as these family styles there are variations within those styles and also modern styles, hybrid styles and even competitive/sport styles.

Tai ChiTai Chi Training

Like many martial arts, there are various applications of the art, from slow exercise styles to more defensive types, that can also include medicine, mental health, stress relief and meditation lessons.

Trainees are usually taught first to warm up, then shown various stances and techniques such as solo hand and weapons forms (Taolu), breathing, movement and awareness exercises and meditation (Neigong & Qigong), response drills with a partner (Tuishou) and self defence techniques with a partner (Sanshou).

In combative training the use of leveraging against your opponent is used, this leverage is often carried out in a yin and yang approach, where the attackers hard and strong force is redirected by a soft flowing motion by the defender. Also to note is that in traditional combative uses, it wasn’t unheard of for a Tai Chi practitioner to strike vulnerable area’s of the attacker, such as the throat and other soft areas.

Tai Chi Equipment/Gear Used

Most schools just require comfortable clothing and footwear to be worn, however many people will wear Chinese style cotton/silk clothing or Kung Fu style uniforms.

Weapons used in Tai Chi

The weapons used are traditionally linked to the elements of earth and Chinese philosophies, with the pairing of these weapons to Tai Chi movements.
With many variations and styles the weapons used can vary quite considerably, but may include:

Jian – Straight double edged sword
Dao/Dadao/Podao – Broadsword/Saber
Gun – Staff
Qiang – Spear
Buchae – Fan
Sheng Biao – Rope dart
Whip chains
Tai Chi Pole
Tai Chi Wind and Fire Wheels

Celebrity Tai Chi Practitioners

Keanu Reeves
Jet Li
Donnie Yen

Movies featuring Tai Chi

Lady Whirlwind (Deep Thrust)
Drunken Tai Chi
Pushing Hands
The Tai Chi Master (Twin Warriors)
Tai Ji Quan
Fatal Contact
Tai Chi Zero
Man of Tai Chi