Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan), literally translated as “Supreme Ultimate Fist” is a complete exercise system or discipline for the body and mind that develops qi (vital energy) and internal strength, promotes physical, mental and spiritual balance, and enhances body awareness.
Legend has it that a famous Daoist monk, Zhang Sangfeng who lived on Wudang Mountain saw a snake and a crane fighting and devised a form of exercise based on these movements. The accepted history of taiji dates back 400 years to Chen Wangting, a martial arts master and retired general who moved back to Chenjiagou (Chen village) in Henan province in the centre of China. In order to stay healthy he created a form or series of movements that have passed down from his generation, the 9th generation, through the Chen family to current bearers of the family tradition. These includes, the 19th generation Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang.
There are several styles of Taijiquan and there is no right or best style to practice. The key is to find a teacher who can inspire you to develop your centre or dantian. To quote my teacher, Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang, taiji principle is “dantian moves, body follows” so without this feeling of centre, the form – however elegant or mighty – is empty.
How can Taiji help?
As taiji becomes part of your daily life the practice of standing and gentle flowing exercises can help to improve:
- posture and alignment
- stress by calming the shen or mind
- mental processing
What Taiji forms can I learn?
In each class you will go through warm-up exercises, a stretch and then learn a series of movements that flow together known as the “form”.
- Chen style - Fundamentals: zhanzhuang (standing qigong) and chansigong (silk reeling). Forms: Laojia (old frame), Xinjia (new frame), 19 Form, Hunyuan short form. Weapons: sabre, sword, spear.
- Yang style - 24 Beijing short form & Taijigongfu Shan (fan form)
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