Tai Chi

Tai Chi (Tai Chi Quan) is a Chinese martial art that combines self-defense with physical and mental fitness. It can be traced back nearly 3000 years to the introduction of the concept of yin and yang. Originally, it is developed as a martial art. Today’s it is practiced by people of all ages for many reasons. Traditionally, Tai Chi and Traditional Chinese Medicine are connected together to treat patients. From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tai Chi is practiced primarily for health benefits, stress relief, and relaxation. The slow, continuous movements are designed to impart powerful physical skills and to stimulate the flow of energy within the body, with the ultimate goal of improved mind-body connection, and increased longevity.

In 1956, Chinese National Sports Committee had authorized Tai Chi experts to compose the Tai Chi 24 Form. It is mainly based mainly on traditional Yang style moves. The Tai Chi 24 Form is also known as the Beijing 24 Form, 24 Step Form and Simplified Tai Chi Quan. In 1989, the Tai Chi 42 form was created for the Chinese National Sports Committee. In 1990, the 11th Asian Games were held in Beijing, China. For the first time in the history of the Asian Games, martial art was included as an item for competition. The Tai Chi 42 Form is the only Tai Chi form being chosen to represent Tai Chi.

Recommended: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi

The Movements of the Tai Chi 24 Form are listed below:

1. Commencement
2. Parting the wild horse’s mane (repeated three times)
3. White crane spreads its wings
4. Brush knee (repeated three times)
5. Playing the Lute
6. Step back and repulse monkey (repeated four times)
7. Grasp the bird's tail left side
8. Grasp the bird's tail right side
9. Single whip
10. Cloud hands
11. Single whip
12. High pat on the horse
13. Heel kick right side
14. Strike tiger’s Ears
15. Heel kick left side
16. Push down and stand on one leg left side
17. Push down and stand on one leg right side
18. Work at shuttles on both sides
19. Needle at the sea bottom
20. Fan through the back
21. Turn, deflect, parry and punch
22. Apparent close-up
23. Cross hands
24. Closing

The Movements of the Tai Chi 42 Form are listed below:

1. Commencement
2. Right grasp bird's tail
3. Left single whip
4. Lift hand
5. White crane spreads wings
6. Brush knee and step forward (repeated two times)
7. Sidle and punch
8. Roll-back and press
9. Step forward, deflect downward, intercept and punch
10. Withdraw and push
11. Open and close hands
12. Right single whip
13. Fist under elbow
14. Turn body and push (repeated two times)
15. Fair lady works at shuttles (repeated two times)
16. Right and left heel kicks
17. Hidden hand upper arm rolls punch
18. Part the wild horse's mane (repeated two times)
19. Cloud hands (repeated three times)
20. Stand up and hit tiger
21. Separate right foot
22. Strike ears with both hands
23. Separate left foot
24. Turn around and tap right foot
25. Step up and punch downward
26. Diagonal flying
27. Single whip in low stance
28. Golden pheasant stands with one leg (repeated two times)
29. Withdraw step and thrust left palm
30. Empty step and pressing palm
31. Lift right leg and right palm up
32. Left shoulder strike with horse stance
33. Turn body and strike with hand
34. Capture and punch in an empty step
35. Thrust palm and sweep down
36. Step up to form the seven stars of the dipper
37. Step back to ride the tiger
38. Turn around and sweep lotus with one leg
39. Shoot tiger with bow
40. Left grasp bird's tail
41. Cross hands
42. Closing

History of Tai Chi

The first known written reference of Tai Chi appeared in the Book of Changes (I Ching) over 3000 years ago during the Zhou Dynasty (1100-1221 BC). In the book it says that "in all changes exists Tai Chi, which causes the two opposites in everything.” Tai Chi means the ultimate of ultimate, often used to describe the vastness of the universe.

The essential principles of Tai Chi are based on the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism, which stresses the natural balance in all things and the need for living in spiritual and physical accord with the patterns of nature. According to this philosophy, everything is composed of two opposite, but entirely complementary, elements of yin and yang, working in a relationship which is in perpetual balance. Tai Chi consists of exercises equally balanced between yin and yang, which is why it is so remarkably effective.

Tai Chi Quan

There are two stories on the founder of Tai Chi Quan. First story believes that Zhang Shan Feng is the founding father of the Tai Chi Quan. Legend says that Zhang was a Taoist priest from Wu Dang Mountain in the 15th century who developed a gentle, sophisticated martial art, while watching hard style monks practicing their external martial arts on Wu Dang Mountain. Second story believes that Chen Wang Ting who is a 16th century royal guard of the Chen village in Henan Province is the first known practitioner of Tai Chi Quan. After retiring from the army, he was drawn to the teachings of Taoism, which led him to a simple life of farming, studying and teaching martial arts.

Chen Wang Ting developed Chen Style Tai Chi Quan, which is arguably the oldest of the traditional Tai Chi styles. Chen family members have cultivated and developed this martial art. There are different lines existing which can be assigned to various family members. A rough classification distinguishes Old Frame (Laojia), New Frame (Xinjia), Big Frame (Dajia) and Small Frame (Xiaojia). This classification is a result of differences in sequence of movements and performance, while the principles of Chen Style are generally maintained.

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