"Tai Chi Chuan" means "supreme ultimate fist", or "great extremes boxing". The concept of the "supreme 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. Thus, tai chi theory and practice evolved in agreement with many of the principles of Chinese philosophy including both Taoism and Confucianism. Tai chi training first and foremost involves learning solo routines, known as forms. While the image of tai chi chuan in popular culture is typified by exceedingly slow movement, many tai chi styles have secondary forms of a faster pace.
Though Tai chi Chuan was original created for fighting, nowadays Tai chi is typically practiced for a variety of reasons: its soft martial techniques, demonstration competitions, health and longevity, even losing weight and sexual performance enhancement. Consequently, a multitude of training forms exist, both traditional and modern, which correspond to those aims. Although different in style and form, all Tai Chi Chuan routines require their practitioners to be tranquil, calm, relaxed but concentrative. In performance the spine is the pivot around which the body moves. Forces and energy should be generated from the spine and waist before reaching the arms and legs. The movements are executed slowly, continuously and softly, but hardness is implied in softness. Practicing Tai Chi Chuan enables part of the cerebral cortex to enter a protective inhibition so that partial rest is possible while other parts are excited. As a result various chronic diseases resulting from the malfunction of the nerve system can thus be cured or ameliorated.
There are many arguments and speculations about the origin and creation of Tai Chi chuan. The most common one is that a Taoist called Zhang San Feng created the Art after witnessing a fight between a snake and a crane in Chinese Ming Dynasty. Although there is evidence that Zhang San Feng actually existed, there is no historical evidence to support the claim that he had anything to do with the creation or practice of Tai Chi Chuan. While others believe that it was created in Tang Dynasty (618-907), or Song Dynasty (961-1279)ˇ
In consideration of its wisdom and power, the origin of Tai Chi Chuan is actually beyond human to answerˇ
Taoist Taiyi Tai Chi Chuan
By oral history, the Taoist Taiyi Tai Chi Chuan was founded by a Taoist priest in Chinese Song Dynasty based on Tai Chi basic principles. It had been kept secretly and there was only one successor in each generation among Taoists. During the chaos of wars, the Dao Guan(Taoist Temple) was destroyed and the Taoist priest who carried Taiyi Tai chi Chuan was very sick and saved by a folk Kung Fu Master who's family name is Wang , the Taoist priest was moved deeply by master Wang's kindness, honesty and hearty so that he decided to pass Taoist Taiyi Tai Chi Chuan to master Wang. Since then, Taoist Taiyi Tai Chi Chuan was carried by Family Wang.
There are four forms of Tai Chi Chuan, four forms of Tai Chi Ball, two forms of Tai Chi Sword and one form of Tai Chi Pole. The classics say:
- To practice Tai Chi Chuan and Tai Chi Ball following the route of Nine Halls Diagram.
- The movement is an interplay of yin and yang which are two opposite yet complementary forces in the universe.
- When you practice your Tai Chi Chuan or Tai Chi Ball always keeps your leg firmly grounded and well rooted.
- The Tai Chi Chuan is a fighting art based on the law of universe.
The treatise for the Taoist Taiyi Tai Chi is:
- Think Tai Chi a symbolically roundness dividing into two halves. Half is yin and half is yang. Yin can not separate from its complementary part of yang, and yang can not separate from its complementary part of yin. Only when yin and yang complement each other harmoniously can one reach balanced whole.
- Ensure roundness is seen in all your movements. From beginning to the end, movement of your body should follow different curves that are continuous, circular and unending just like reeling silk thread from a cocoon. Move your upper body in full roundness and your lower body in half circle.
Originated back to a millennium ago, the Taoist Taiyi Tai Chi has passed down through thirty-one generations to nowadays. The long history of development differentiates it from other modern popular Tai Chi styles in unique features and characteristics.
2. Basic principles
The Taoist Taiyi Tai Chi Boxing is firmly rooted in Tai Chi principles and follows the directions provided by the Nine Halls Diagram. The Nine Halls Diagram is an ancient Chinese diagram that mystically connected with the movement of the seven stars of Beidou, the Northern Ladle (Big Dipper) plus two secret "companions" to the penultimate star of the handle. Legend says that Taiyi is the Deity of North Pole and it takes one year for the stars of Beidou moves around Taiyi. Taiyi moves in the directions of Eight Trigrams (Ba-gua) and rests in the central hall. The eight Trigrams and the central hall are called Nine Halls. (Figure 1)
As shown in Figure 2, Taiyi starts from central hall where yin interplays with yang (Hall of Purple; No.5); it then goes to Hall of Kan (Yang; No.1); then goes to Hall of Kun (Yin; No.2); then goes to Hall of Chen (Yang; No.3); then goes to Hall of Sun (Yin; No.4), then come back to rest at Hall of Purple. Afterwards, it travels to Hall of Chien (Yang; No 6); then goes to Hall of Tui (Yin; No.7); then goes to Hall of Ken (Yang; No. 8); then goes to Hall of Li (Yin; No.9).
The Taoist Taiyi Tai Chi is rooted in the Tai Chi principle and follows the rules of Tai Chi movements. Each movement remains centrally commanded which is on the platform of Nine Halls Diagram.
3. A simple introduction to Tai Chi Ball
When Tai Chi Chuan practitioners have reached a required level of proficiency, Tai Chi Ball is introduced into the training. The weight of Tai Chi Balls varies with the heaviest up to 30kg. In exercise we usually use the 10kg one with diameter about 30cm. Tai Chi Ball is an intricate part of Tai Chi training and add an important dimension to it. When in practice, you may sit or stand, circle the ball vertically forward and backwards. After some time, you may try rotate the ball horizontally clockwise, and then counterclockwise.
The movement of the external Tai Chi Ball corresponds to the internal energetic circulation in the body, and it will allow you to strengthen your sensation of the upper and lower energy centers. The movement teaches coordination, fluidity, and the connection of the entire body from the soles of the feet to the tips of the finger as a single, whip-like unit. In the ball training, the ball is not regarded as separate from the body, but as an extension of it. Through projecting the sensation of the ball internally, one can have a stronger visualization in a shorter time and eventually develop the skills of passing intrinsic energy through the ball with the hand.