Thursday, November 3, 2011

What is really in Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is short for Tai Chi Chuan. Chuan means boxing. Therefore, true Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art. There are different versions of Tai Chi Chuan and many simplified sets. There are for example sets with 24, 42 and 48 movements. With so many variations, how can one differentiate between Tai Chi boxing and Tai Chi dancing? While opinions differ, I believe the difference between boxing and dancing are found in 4 features. They are Content, Application, Mixture of Ying and Yang and Following Yang Chen Fu's 10 principles.

  1. Content

    Real Tai Chi consists of 8 fundamental methods and 5 fundamental steps. Taken together, these yield 13 forms. If any of the simplified forms is missing one of the 13 forms it is not a complete Tai Chi set. The 8 methods are Ward Off - Peng, Roll Back –Lu, Press - Ji, Push - An, Pull Down - Tsai, Split - Lieh, Elbow - Chou, and Shoulder - Kao. The five steps are Advancing Steps – Jin, Retreating Steps - Tui, Stepping to the Left Side - Ku, Stepping to the Right Side - Pan, Settling at the Center – Zhong Ding.

  2. Application

    Tai Chi was originally developed for self-defense and fighting. Every movement must have a defensive and/or offensive purpose. Defense makes your body stable and strong. Attacking allows you to actually defend yourself..

  3. Mixture of Ying and Yang

    Each movement is made of complimentary and opposing polarities such as closing within opening, opening within closing, upper and lower body coordination, left and right body coordination, Ying and Yang folding, and Ying and Yang twisting.

  4. Following Yang Chen Fu’s 10 principles.

    Grandmaster Fu’s teacher, the founder of Yang (Cheng Fu ) Style has 10 famous principles which conclude the characters of Tai Chi. They are

    1. Keep your head erect

    2. Keep your chest sunken inward and let your Chi/energy stick to the back

    3. Relax your waist

    4. Distinguish empty and full stances

    5. Sink your shoulders and drop your elbows

    6. Use concentration instead of force

    7. Coordinate the upper and lower parts of the body

    8. Combine internal and external energy

    9. Have continuous movements

    10. Find quietness and peace in movements

Next time, when you are in a Tai Chi class, you can be confident that you are really learning real Tai Chi if you find all the above features are included in your instruction.

Copyright Huan's Tai Chi 2011

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