Tai Chi Chuan

Tai Chi Chuan

In Ankara Turkiye I meet with Mr Serdar Kaleli a Turkish Tai Chi Chuan Master, and we learn that Tai Chi is worldwide represented and the biggest non-contact martial Art in the world.
Tai Chi Chuan

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Tai Chi Chuan or Taijiquan, often shortened to Tai Chi, Taiji or tai chi in English usage, is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both its defence training and its health benefits. It is also typically practiced for a variety of other personal reasons: its hard and soft martial art technique, demonstration competitions, and longevity. As a result, a multitude of training forms exist, both traditional and modern, which correspond to those aims. Some of Tai Chi Chuan training forms are especially known for being practiced at what most people categorize as slow movement. Today, Tai Chi Chuan has spread worldwide. Most modern styles of Tai Chi Chuan trace their development to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu (Hao), Wu, and Sun.

The term " Tai Chi Chuan” translates as "supreme ultimate fist", "boundless fist", "supreme ultimate boxing" or "great extremes boxing". The chi in this instance is the Wade-Giles transliteration of the Pinyin jí, and is distinct from qì (ch'i, "life energy"). 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 of Yin and Yang into a single ultimate, represented by the taijitu symbol. Tai Chi Chuan theory and practice evolved in agreement with many Chinese philosophical principles, including those of Taoism and Confucianism.

Tai Chi Chuan training involves five elements, taolu (solo hand and weapons routines/forms), neigong & qigong (breathing, movement and awareness exercises and meditation), tuishou (response drills) and sanshou (self-defence techniques). While t'ai chi ch'uan is typified by some for its slow movements, many t'ai chi styles (including the three most popular – Yang, Wu, and Chen) – have secondary forms of a faster pace. Some traditional schools of t'ai chi teach partner exercises known as tuishou ("pushing hands"), and martial applications of the taolu's (forms') postures.

In China, Tai Chi Chuan is categorized under the Wudang grouping of Chinese martial arts – that is, the arts applied with internal power. Although the Wudang name falsely suggests these arts originated at the so-called Wudang Mountain, it is simply used to distinguish the skills, theories and applications of neijia ("internal arts") from those of the Shaolin grouping, waijia ("hard" or "external") martial art styles.

Since the first widespread promotion of Tai Chi Chuan health benefits by Yang Shaohou, Yang Chengfu, Wu Chien-ch'uan, and Sun Lutang in the early 20th century, it has developed a worldwide following among people with little or no interest in martial training, for its benefit to health and health maintenance. Medical studies of Tai 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 Tai Chi Chuan training, aspects of traditional Chinese medicine are taught to advanced Tai Chi Chuan students in some traditional schools.

Some other forms of martial arts require students to wear a uniform during practice. In general, Tai Chi Chuan schools do not require a uniform, but both traditional and modern teachers often advocate loose, comfortable clothing and flat-soled shoes. The physical techniques of Tai Chi Chuan are described in the "Tai 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, etc.)

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The study of Tai Chi Chuan 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 Tai Chi Chuan as a martial art. Tai Chi Chuan health training, therefore, concentrates on relieving the physical effects of stress on the body and mind. For those focused on Tai Chi Chuan martial application, good physical fitness is an important step towards effective self-defence.

Meditation: The focus and calmness cultivated by the meditative aspect of Tai Chi Chuan 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 Tai Chi Chuan as a form of self-defence in combat is the test of a student's understanding of the art. Tai Chi Chuan 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. The use of Tai Chi Chuan as a martial art is quite challenging and requires a great deal of training says Sensei Serdar Kaleli.

We are tracing Tai Chi Chuan formative influences back to Taoist and Buddhist monasteries, there seems little more to go on than legendary tales from a modern historical perspective, but Tai Chi Chuan practical connection to and dependence upon the theories of Sung dynasty Neo-Confucianism (a conscious synthesis of Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian traditions, especially the teachings of Mencius) is claimed by some traditional schools. Tai Chi Chuan theories and practice are believed by these schools to have been 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. 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 A.D.), 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 Tai Chi Chuan and Zhang Sanfeng appear no earlier than the 19th century.

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. What is now known as " Tai Chi Chuan” only appears to have received this appellation from around the mid-1800s. There was a scholar in the Imperial Court by the name of Ong Tong He, who 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 (绵拳, "soft boxing") or shisan shi (十三式, "the thirteen techniques").

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There are five major styles of t'ai chi ch'uan, each named after the Chinese family from which it originated:

  • Chen-style (陳氏) of Chen Wangting (1580–1660)
  • Yang-style (楊氏) of Yang Lu-ch'an (1799–1872)
  • Wu- or Wu (Hao)-style (武氏) of Wu Yu-hsiang (1812–1880)
  • Wu-style (吳氏) of Wu Ch'uan-yu (1834–1902) and his son Wu Chien-ch'uan (1870–1942)
  • Sun-style (孫氏) of Sun Lu-t'ang (1861–1932)

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. 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 Tai Chi Chuan a close cousin of Chen-style, which has been newly recognized by Western practitioners as a distinct style, and 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).

Information

Ronin Magazine Online is a NGO, non political, non religious, non profit free publication. It is run as a hobby by Hanshi Jörgen Lindberg, who is a Swedish citizen living in Turkiye.

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