A Brief History of Tai Chi Chuan

BaGuaTai Chi is a martial art based on harmony. It was developed in the Song Dynasty, enhanced through the last 1000 years to achieve efficient body and soul alignment.

Despite of the martial art application, the Tai Chi practitioner will gain health benefit and enjoy the integrity of body motion/movements.

The Yin and Yang of the Tai Chi symbol represents two extreme forces united in one. When practicing Tai Chi, the power grows and diminishes to the extreme.

By attaching these forces to a partner, one can turn the situation to benefit oneself. Tai Chi Chuan originally consisted of eight hand movements or eight different forces using hands and five different steps.

Through the years, it developed into more than one hundred stances. Each stance has its own individual application. The application is always based on the assumption that one can avoid a conflict and follow the situation, eventually gaining an opportunity to outperform the opponent.

New forms can always be developed; new stances will emerge. Only the good ones will stand and the less efficient ones will go. There are simplified and more traditional forms, as long as it is adapted to the principal of Tai Chi, it will sustain.

By combining the 8 forces of hand movements and by using 5 steps, various movements can be developed. How to string all the stances together is based on the personal preference.

However, each stance should contain a perfect logic or application. When you put different stances together, it becomes a form, a routine.

From one stance to the next stance in a form, there might not be any logic; you can consider the form as a book which contains short stories as stances. Therefore, whether the form contains a 24, 42, 68 or 108 stances, it’s just a way of compiling movements.

In the past thousand years, many families have developed their own unique forms and they are called different styles of Tai Chi Chuan. For example, there are the Chen, Yang, Sun, and Hao styles of Tai Chi.

They may look different, but they all try to apply the same principles. By understanding the principle of Tai Chi, you gain the essence of this martial art instead of being confused by biases of the different styles.

By observing the movement of the form, you realize the coordination is powered by the internal energy directed by the practitioner’s mind. Energy flow not only gives the power to the movement, but also strengthens the practitioner’s mind and body.

In my class, I use Yang style to illustrate the principle of Tai Chi. But any school of Tai Chi may be analyzed by the same principle.