Tai chi

Tai chi (simplified Chinese: 太极; traditional Chinese: 太極; pinyin: Tàijí), short for T'ai chi ch'üan or Tàijí quán (太極拳), sometimes colloquially known as "Shadowboxing,"[1][2][3] is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for defense training, health benefits, and meditation.

Tàijíquán / T'ai chi ch'üan
(太極拳)
Yin and Yang symbol.svg
The lower dantian in Taijiquan:
Yin and Yang rotate, while
the core reverts to stillness (wuji).
Yang-single (restoration).jpg
Yang Chengfu (c. 1931) in Single Whip posture of Yang-style t'ai chi ch'uan solo form
Also known asTàijí; T'ai chi
FocusChinese Taoist
Hardness
  • Forms competition,
  • Light contact (pushing hands, no strikes),
  • Full contact (strikes, kicks, throws, takedowns etc.)
Country of originGreater China
CreatorChen Wangting or Zhang Sanfeng
Famous practitioners
Olympic sportDemonstration only
Tai chi
Traditional Chinese太極拳
Simplified Chinese太极拳
Literal meaning"Taiji Boxing"

Developed as a martial art, it is practiced for reasons including competitive wrestling, competitive demonstrations, and health/longevity. Tai chi has practitioners worldwide.

Yang Shaohou, Yang Chengfu, Wu Chien-ch‘üan and Sun Lutang promoted the art for its health benefits beginning in the early 20th century.[4] Its global following often for its benefit to personal health.[5] Medical studies of t‘ai-chi support its effectiveness as an alternative exercise and a form of martial arts therapy.

Many forms are practiced, both traditional and modern. Most modern styles trace their development to the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu (Hao), Wu, and Sun. All trace their historical origins to Chen Village.

Yin and yangEdit

The concept of the taiji, in contrast with wuji ("without ultimate"), appears in both Taoist and Confucian philosophy, where it represents the fusion or mother[6] of yin and yang into a single ultimate, represented by the taijitu symbol  . Tai chi theory and practice evolved in agreement with Chinese philosophical principles, including those of Taoism and Confucianism. Zou Yan (鄒衍; 305 BC – 240 BC) was a Chinese philosopher best known as the representative thinker of the Yin and Yang School (or School of Naturalists) during the Hundred Schools of Thought era in Chinese philosophy.

Taijiquan is a fist system based on the dynamic relationship between Yin and Yang.

While tai chi is typified by its slow movements, many styles (including the three most popular: Yang, Wu and Chen) have secondary, faster-paced forms. Some traditional schools teach partner exercises known as tuishou ("pushing hands"), and martial applications of the postures of different forms (taolu).

Internal vs externalEdit

In China, tai chi is categorized under the Wudang grouping of Chinese martial arts[7]—that is, arts applied with internal power.[8] Although the term Wudang suggests these arts originated in the Wudang Mountains, it is used only to distinguish the skills, theories and applications of neijia (internal arts) from those of the Shaolin grouping, or waijia (hard or external) styles.[9]

Some martial arts require students to wear a uniform during practice. In general, tai chi does not specify a uniform, although teachers often advocate loose, comfortable clothing and flat-soled shoes.[10][11]

The physical techniques of tai chi are described in the "T‘ai-chi classics", writings by tai chi masters. The techniques are 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.

PracticeEdit

  • Meditation: The focus and calm cultivated by the meditative aspect of tai chi is seen as necessary for maintaining health (in the sense of relieving stress and maintaining homeostasis) and in the application of the form as a soft style martial art.
  • Movement: Tai chi is the practice of appropriate change in response to outside forces, of yielding to and engaging an attack rather than meeting it with opposing force.[12] Physical fitness is an important step towards effective self-defense.
  • Traditional Chinese medicine is taught to advanced students in some traditional schools.[13]

Tai chi training involves five elements:

  • taolu (solo hand and weapons routines/forms)
  • neigong and qigong (breathing, movement and awareness exercises and meditation)
  • tuishou (Push Hands drills)
  • sanshou (Striking techniques).

EtymologyEdit

Tai Chi was known as "大恒" during the Warring States period. The silk version of I Ching recorded this original name. Due to the name taboo of Emperor Wen of Western Han Empire , "大恒" changed to "太極.". Sundial shadow length changes represent traditional Chinese Medicine with four elements theory instead of Confucian politician-based five elements theory.[14] In the beginning, the color white was associated with Yin, while black was associated with Yang. Confucianism uses the reverse.

The term taiji is a Chinese cosmological concept for the flux of yin and yang. 'Quan' means fist.

Tàijíquán and T‘ai-chi ch‘üan are two different transcriptions of three Chinese characters that are the written Chinese name for the artform:

Characters Wade–Giles Pinyin Meaning
太極 t‘ai chi tàijí the relationship of Yin and Yang
ch‘üan quán fist, boxing

The English language offers two spellings, one derived from Wade–Giles and the other from the Pinyin transcription. Most Westerners often shorten this name to t‘ai chi (often omitting the aspirate sign—thus becoming "tai chi"). This shortened name is the same as that of the t‘ai-chi philosophy. However, the Pinyin romanization is taiji. The chi in the name of the martial art is not the same as ch‘i (qi the "life force"). Ch‘i is involved in the practice of t‘ai-chi ch‘üan. Although the word is traditionally written chi in English, the closest pronunciation, using English sounds, to that of Standard Chinese would be jee, with j pronounced as in jump and ee pronounced as in bee. Other words exist with pronunciations in which the ch is pronounced as in chump. Thus, it is important to use the j sound. This potential for confusion suggests preferring the pinyin spelling, taiji. Most Chinese use the Pinyin version.[15]

HistoryEdit

Tai chi's formative influences came from Taoist and Buddhist monasteries, as recounted in legend. Nevertheless, some schools claim that tai chi sprang from the theories of Song dynasty Neo-Confucianism (synthesis of Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian traditions, especially the teachings of Mencius).[9] These schools believe that tai chi theory and practice were formulated by Taoist monk Zhang Sanfeng in the 12th century, at about the same time that the principles of the Neo-Confucian school were rising.[9]

However, modern research doubts those claims, pointing out that a 17th-century piece called Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan (1669), composed by Huang Zongxi (1610–1695), is the earliest reference indicating a connection between Zhang Sanfeng and martial arts. Claims of connections between tai chi and Zhang Sanfeng appeared no earlier than the 19th century.[16]

Yang Luchan trained with the Chen family for 18 years before he started to teach in Beijing, which strongly suggests that his work was heavily influenced by, the Chen family art. The Chen family trace their art back to Chen Wangting in the 17th century. Martial arts historian Xu Zhen claimed that the tai chi of Chen Village was influenced by the Taizu changquan style practiced at nearby Shaolin Monastery, while Tang Hao thought it was derived from a treatise by Ming dynasty general Qi Jiguang, Jixiao Xinshu ("New Treatise on Military Efficiency"), which discussed several martial arts styles including Taizu changquan.[17][18]

What is now known as tai chi appears to have received this appellation around the mid-19th century.[16] Imperial Court scholar Ong Tong witnessed a demonstration by Yang Luchan before Yang had established his reputation as a teacher. Afterwards Ong wrote: "Hands holding Tai chi shakes the whole world, a chest containing ultimate skill defeats a gathering of heroes." Before this time the art may have had other names, and appears to have been generically described by outsiders as zhan quan (沾拳, "touch boxing"), Mian Quan ("soft boxing") or shisan shi (十三式, "the thirteen techniques").[19]

StandardizationEdit

In 1956 the Chinese government sponsored the Chinese Sports Committee (CSC), which brought together four wushu teachers to truncate the Yang family hand form to 24 postures. This was an attempt to standardize t‘ai-chi ch‘üan for wushu tournaments, because many tai chi teachers had either moved out of China or stopped teaching after the Chinese Civil War. They wanted to create a routine that would be much less difficult to learn than the classical 88 to 108 posture solo hand forms.

Another 1950s form is the "97 movements combined t‘ai-chi ch‘üan form", which blends Yang, Wu, Sun, Chen, and Fu styles.

In 1976, they developed a slightly longer demonstration form that would not require the traditional forms' memory, balance, and coordination. This became the "Combined 48 Forms" that were created by three wushu coaches, headed by Men Hui Feng. The combined forms simplified and combined classical forms from the original Chen, Yang, Wu, and Sun styles. Other competitive forms were designed to be completed within a six-minute time limit.

In the late 1980s, CSC standardized more competition forms for the four major styles as well as combined forms. These five sets of forms were created by different teams, and later approved by a committee of wushu coaches in China. These forms were named after their style: the "Chen-style national competition form" is the "56 Forms". The combined forms are "The 42-Form" or simply the "Competition Form".

In the 11th Asian Games of 1990, wushu was included as an item for competition for the first time with the 42-Form representing t‘ai-chi ch‘üan. The International Wushu Federation (IWUF) applied for wushu to be part of the Olympic games.[20]

Taijiquan was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists in 2020 for China.[21]

StylesEdit

The five major styles of tai chi are named for the Chinese families who originated them:

The most popular is Yang, followed by Wu, Chen, Sun and Wu/Hao.[9] The styles share underlying theory, but their training differs.

Dozens of new styles, hybrid styles, and offshoots followed, although the family schools are accepted as standard by the international community. Other important styles are Zhaobao tàijíquán, a close cousin of Chen style, which is recognized by Western practitioners; Fu style, created by Fu Chen Sung, which evolved from Chen, Sun and Yang styles, and incorporates movements from Baguazhang (Pa Kua Chang)[citation needed]; and Cheng Man-ch'ing style which simplifies Yang style.

 
Wu-style master Eddie Wu demonstrating the form "Grasp the bird's tail" at a tournament in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Most existing styles came from Chen style, which had been passed down as a family secret for generations. The Chen family chronicles record Chen Wangting, of the family's 9th generation, as the inventor of what is known today as tai chi. Yang Luchan became the first person outside the family to learn tai chi. His success in fighting earned him the nickname Yang Wudi, which means "Unbeatable Yang", and his fame and efforts in teaching greatly contributed to the subsequent spreading of tai chi knowledge.[citation needed] The designation internal or neijia martial arts is also used to broadly distinguish what are known as external or waijia styles based on Shaolinquan styles, although that distinction may be disputed by modern schools. In this broad sense, all styles of t'ai chi, as well as related arts such as Baguazhang and Xingyiquan, are, therefore, considered to be "soft" or "internal" martial arts.

United StatesEdit

Choy Hok Pang, a disciple of Yang Chengfu, was the first known proponent of tai chi to openly teach in the United States, beginning in 1939. His son and student Choy Kam Man emigrated to San Francisco from Hong Kong in 1949 to teach t‘ai-chi ch‘üan in Chinatown. Choy Kam Man taught until he died in 1994.[22][23]

Sophia Delza, a professional dancer and student of Ma Yueliang, performed the first known public demonstration of tai chi in the United States at the New York City Museum of Modern Art in 1954. She wrote the first English language book on t‘ai-chi, "T‘ai-chi ch‘üan: Body and Mind in Harmony", in 1961. She taught regular classes at Carnegie Hall, the Actors Studio, and the United Nations.[24][25]

Zheng Manqing/Cheng Man-ch'ing, who opened his school Shr Jung t‘ai-chi after he moved to New York from Taiwan in 1964. Unlike the older generation of practitioners, Zheng was cultured and educated in American ways,[clarification needed] and thus was able to transcribe Yang's dictation into a written manuscript that became the de facto manual for Yang style. Zheng felt Yang's traditional 108-movement form was unnecessarily long and repetitive, which makes it difficult to learn.[citation needed] He thus created a shortened 37-movement version that he taught in his schools. Zheng's form became the dominant form in the eastern United States until other teachers immigrated in larger numbers in the 1990s. He taught until his death in 1975.[26]

United KingdomEdit

Norwegian Pytt Geddes was the first European to teach tai chi in Britain, holding classes at The Place in London in the early 1960s. She had first encountered tai chi in Shanghai in 1948, and studied with Choy Hok Pang and his son Choy Kam Man (who both also taught in the United States) while living in Hong Kong in the late 1950s.[27]

LineageEdit

Note:

  • This lineage tree is not comprehensive, but depicts those considered the "gate-keepers" and most recognised individuals in each generation of the respective styles.
  • Although many styles were passed down to respective descendants of the same family, the lineage focused on is that of the martial art and its main styles, not necessarily that of the families.
  • Each (coloured) style depicted below has a lineage tree on its respective article page that is focused on that specific style, showing a greater insight into the highly significant individuals in its lineage.
  • Names denoted by an asterisk are legendary or semi-legendary figures in the lineage; while their involvement in the lineage is accepted by most of the major schools, it is not independently verifiable from known historical records.
Key:
Solid linesDirect teacher-student.(张三丰)
Zhang Sanfeng*
c. 12th century
NEIJIA
Dashed linesIndividual(s) omitted.Various DaoistsLegendary figures
Dotted linesPartial influence
/taught informally
/limited time.
(王宗岳)
Wang Zongyue*
TAIJIQUAN
Dashed crossBranch continues.
(陈王庭)
Chen Wangting
1580–1660
CHEN-STYLE
(蒋法)
Jiang Fa
Zhaobao-style
(陈汝信)
Chen Ruxin
2nd gen. Chen
(陈所乐)
Chen Suole
2nd gen. Chen
(邢喜怀)
Xing Xihuai
2nd gen. Zhaobao
(陈大鹍)
Chen Dakun
3rd gen. Chen
(陈大鹏)
Chen Dapeng
3rd gen. Chen
(陈光印)
Chen Guangyin
3rd gen. Chen
(陈申如)
Chen Shenru
3rd gen. Chen
(陈恂如)
Chen Xunru
3rd gen. Chen
(陈正如)
Chen Zhengru
3rd gen. Chen
(张楚臣)
Zhang Chuchen
3rd gen. Zhaobao
(陈善通)
Chen Shantong
4th gen. Chen
(陈善志)
Chen Shanzhi
4th gen. Chen
(陈继夏)
Chen Jixia
4th gen. Chen
(陈节)
Chen Jie
4th gen. Chen
(陈敬伯)
Chen Jingbo
4th gen. Chen
4th gen. Zhaobao
(陈秉奇)
Chen Bingqi
5th gen. Chen
(陈秉壬)
Chen Bingren
5th gen. Chen
(陈秉旺)
Chen Bingwang
1748–?
5th gen. Chen
(陈公兆)
Chen Gongzhao
1715– after 1795
5th gen. Chen
(张宗禹)
Zhang Zongyu
5th gen. Zhaobao
(陈长兴)
Chen Changxing
1771–1853
6th gen. Chen
Chen Old Frame
(陈有本)
Chen Youben
c. 19th century
6th gen. Chen
Chen Small Frame
(张彦)
Zhang Yan
6th gen. Zhaobao
(陈耕耘)
Chen Gengyun
7th gen. Chen
(陈仲甡)
Chen Zhongshen
1809–1871
7th gen. Chen
Chen Small Frame
(杨露禅)
Yang Luchan
1799–1872
YANG-STYLE
Guang Ping Yang
Yangjia Michuan
(陈清萍)
Chen Qingping
1795–1868
7th gen. Chen
7th gen. Zhaobao
(陈延熙)
Chen Yanxi
8th gen. Chen
(陈鑫)
Chen Xin
1849–1929
8th gen. Chen
Chen Small Frame
(王兰亭)
Wang Lanting
1840–?
2nd gen. Yang
(杨健侯)
Yang Jianhou
1839–1917
2nd gen. Yang
2nd gen. Yangjia Michuan
(杨班侯)
Yang Banhou
1837–1892
2nd gen. Yang
2nd gen.
Guang Ping Yang
Yang Small Frame
(武禹襄)
Wu Yuxiang
1812–1880
WU (HAO)-STYLE
(他招远)
He Zhaoyuan
1810–1890
8th gen. Zhaobao
Zhaobao He-style
(陈发科)
Chen Fake
1887–1957
9th gen. Chen
Chen New Frame
(陈克忠)
Chen Kezhong
1908–1966
9th gen. Chen
Chen Small Frame
(李瑞东)
Li Ruidong
1851–1917
Li-style
(杨澄甫)
Yang Chengfu
1883–1936
3rd gen. Yang
Yang Big Frame
(杨少侯)
Yang Shaohou
1862–1930
3rd gen. Yang
Yang Small Frame
(吴全佑)
Wu Quanyou
1834–1902
1st gen. Wu
(王矯宇)
Wang Jiaoyu
1836–1939
3rd gen.
Guang Ping Yang
(李亦畬)
Li Yiyu
1832–1892
2nd gen. Wu (Hao)
(和庆喜)
He Qingxi
1857–1936
9th gen. Zhaobao
(陈照丕)
Chen Zhaopi
1893–1972
10th gen. Chen
focused on
Chen Old Frame
(陈照奎)
Chen Zhaokui
1928–1981
10th gen. Chen
focused on
Chen New Frame
(陈伯祥)
Chen Boxiang
b. 1944
10th gen. Chen
Chen Small Frame
(張欽霖)
Zhang Qinlin
1888–1967
3rd gen. Yangjia Michuan
(杨振铎)
Yang Zhenduo
b. 1926
4th gen. Yang
(傅仲文)
Fu Zhongwen
1903–1994
4th gen. Yang
Beijing (24) form
(郑曼青)
Zheng Manqing
1902–1975
4th gen. Yang
Short (37) Form
(吴鉴泉)
Wu Jianquan
1870–1942
2nd gen. Wu
WU-STYLE
108 Form
Kuo Lien Ying
1895–1984
4th gen.
Guang Ping Yang
(郝為真)
Hao Weizhen
1849–1920
3rd gen. Wu (Hao)
(郑悟清)
Zheng Wuqing
1895–1984
10th gen. Zhaobao
(吴公儀)
Wu Gongyi
1900–1970
3rd gen. Wu
(孙禄堂)
Sun Lutang
1861–1932
SUN-STYLE
(郝月如)
Hao Yueru
1877–1935
4th gen. Wu (Hao)
(王延年)
Wang Yannian
1914–2008
5th gen. Yang
4th gen. Yangjia Michuan
(鄭天熊)
Zheng Tianxiong
1930–2005
Wudang-style
(吴雁霞)
Wu Yanxia
1930–2001
4th gen. Wu
(孙剑云)
Sun Jianyun
1913–2003
2nd gen. Sun
(郝少如)
Hao Shaoru
1908–1983
5th gen. Wu (Hao)
(陈小旺)
Chen Xiaowang
b. 1945
11th gen. Chen
(陈小星)
Chen Xiaoxing
b. 1952
11th gen. Chen
(陆志众)
Lu Zhizhong
b. 1965
11th gen. Chen
Chen Small Frame
(杨军)
Yang Jun
b. 1968
5th gen. Yang
(吴光宇)
Wu Guangyu
b. 1946
5th gen. Wu
(孙永田)
Sun Yongtian
b. ?
3rd gen. Sun
(刘积顺)
Liu Jishun
b. 1930
6th gen. Wu (Hao)
CHEN-STYLEChen Small FrameYANG-STYLEWU-STYLESUN-STYLEWU (HAO)-STYLE

Modern formsEdit

The Cheng Man-ch‘ing (Zheng Manqing) and Chinese Sports Commission short forms are derived from Yang family forms, but neither is recognized as Yang family tai chi by standard-bearing Yang family teachers. The Chen, Yang, and Wu families promote their own shortened demonstration forms for competitive purposes.


(杨澄甫)
Yang Chengfu
1883–1936
3rd gen. Yang
Yang Big Frame
(郑曼青)
Zheng Manqing
1902–1975
4th gen. Yang
Short (37) Form
Chinese Sports Commission
1956
Beijing (24) Form
1989
42 Competition Form
(Wushu competition form
combined from
Chen, Yang, Wu & Sun styles)

PurposesEdit

The primary purposes of tai chi are health, sport/self-defense and aesthetics.

Practitioners mostly interested in tai chi's health benefits diverged from those who emphasize self-defense, and also those who attracted by its aesthetic appeal (wushu).

More traditional practitioners hold that the two aspects of health and martial arts make up the art's yin and yang. The "family" schools present their teachings in a martial art context, whatever the intention of their students.[28]

HealthEdit

 
Outdoor practice in Beijing's Temple of Heaven

Tai chi's health training concentrates on relieving stress on the body and mind.

In the 21st century, tai chi classes that purely emphasize health are popular in hospitals, clinics, community centers and senior centers. Tai chi's low-stress training method for seniors has become better known.[29]

Sport/self-defenseEdit

As a martial art, tai chi emphasizes defense over attack and replies to hard with soft. The ability to use tai chi as a form of combat is the test of a student's understanding of the art. This is typically demonstrated via competition with others.

Practitioners test their skills against students from other schools and martial arts styles in tuishou ("pushing hands") and sanshou competition.

AestheticsEdit

Wushu is primarily for show. Forms taught for wushu are designed to earn points in competition and are mostly unconcerned with either health or self-defense.

PhilosophyEdit

The philosophy of Taiji is to keep Yin and Yang in flux. When two forces push each other with equal force, neither side moves. Motion cannot occur until one side yields. Therefore, a key principle in tai chi is to avoid using force directly against force (hardness against hardness). Lao Tzŭ provided the archetype for this in the Tao Te Ching when he wrote, "The soft and the pliable will defeat the hard and strong."

Conversely, when in possession of leverage, one may want to use hardness to force the opponent to become soft. Traditionally, tai chi uses both soft and hard. Yin is said to be the mother of Yang, using soft power to create hard power.

Traditional schools also emphasize that one is expected to show wude ("martial virtue/heroism"), to protect the defenseless, and show mercy to one's opponents.[4]

FormsEdit

Training involves two primary features: taolu (solo "forms"), a sequence of movements that emphasize a straight spine, abdominal breathing and a natural range of motion; and tuishou ("pushing hands") for training with a partner and in a more practical manner. Traditionally, Taijiquan also has Dan Shi (Single Form Practice) which practice a specific movement from Taolu.

Solo (taolu, neigong and qigong)Edit

 
Painting in Chenjiagou, illustrating taolu according to the Chen style of tai chi

Taolu (solo "forms") is a choreography that serves as the encyclopedia of a martial art. Tai chi is often characterized by slow movements in Taolu practice, and one of the reasons is to develop body awareness. Accurate, repeated practice of the solo routine is said to retrain posture, encourage circulation throughout students' bodies, maintain flexibility, and familiarize students with the martial sequences implied by the forms. The traditional styles of tai chi have forms that differ in aesthetics, but share many similarities that reflect their common origin.

Solo forms (empty-hand and weapon) are catalogues of movements that are practised individually in pushing hands and martial application scenarios to prepare students for self-defense training. In most traditional schools, variations of the solo forms can be practised: fast / slow, small-circle / large-circle, square / round (different expressions of leverage through the joints), low-sitting/high-sitting (the degree to which weight-bearing knees stay bent throughout the form).

Breathing exercises; neigong (internal skill) or, more commonly, qigong (life energy cultivation) are practiced to develop qi (life energy) in coordination with physical movement and zhan zhuang (standing like a post) or combinations of the two. These were formerly taught as a separate, complementary training system. In the last 60 years they have become better known to the general public.

Qigong versus tai chiEdit

Qigong involves coordinated movement, breath, and awareness used for health, meditation, and martial arts. While many scholars and practitioners consider tai chi to be a type of qigong,[30][31] the two are commonly seen as separate but closely related practices. Qigong plays an important role in training for tai chi. Many tai chi movements are part of qigong practice. The focus of qigong is typically more on health or meditation than martial applications. Internally the main difference is the flow of qi. In qigong, the flow of qi is held at a gate point for a moment to aid the opening and cleansing of the channels.[clarification needed] In tai chi, the flow of qi is continuous, thus allowing the development of power by the practitioner.

Partnered (tuishou and sanshou)Edit

 
Two students receive instruction in tuishou ("pushing hands"), one of the core training exercises of t‘ai-chi ch‘üan.

Tai chi's martial aspect relies on sensitivity to the opponent's movements and center of gravity, which dictate appropriate responses. Disrupting the opponent's center of gravity upon contact is the primary goal of the martial t‘ai-chi ch‘üan student.[13] The sensitivity needed to capture the center is acquired over thousands of hours of first yin (slow, repetitive, meditative, low-impact) and then later adding yang (realistic, active, fast, high-impact) martial training through taolu (forms), tuishou (pushing hands), and sanshou (sparring). Tai chi trains in three basic ranges: close, medium and long. Pushes and open-hand strikes are more common than punches, and kicks are usually to the legs and lower torso, never higher than the hip, depending on style. The fingers, fists, palms, sides of the hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, back, hips, knees, and feet are commonly used to strike. Targets are the eyes, throat, heart, groin, and other acupressure points. Chin na, which are joint traps, locks, and breaks are also used. Most tai chi teachers expect their students to thoroughly learn defensive or neutralizing skills first, and a student must demonstrate proficiency with them before learning offensive skills.

Martial schools focus on how the energy of a strike affects the opponent. A palm strike that looks to have the same movement may be performed in such a way that it has a completely different effect on the opponent's body. A palm strike that could simply push the opponent backward, or instead be focused in such a way as to lift the opponent vertically off the ground, changing center of gravity; or that it could project the force of the strike into the opponent's body with the intent of causing internal damage.

Most development aspects are meant to be covered within the partnered practice of tuishou, and so, sanshou (sparring) is not commonly used as a method of training, although more advanced students sometimes practice by sanshou. Sanshou is more common to tournaments such as wushu tournaments.

WeaponsEdit

Taijijian
A pair of jian with their scabbards
Wushu jian pair event at the 10th All China games

Variations of tai chi (taiji) involving weapons also exist. Weapons training and fencing applications employ:

  • the jian, a straight double-edged sword, practiced as taijijian;
  • the dao, a heavier curved saber, sometimes called a broadsword;
  • the tieshan, a folding fan, also called shan and practiced as taijishan;
  • the gun, a 2 m long wooden staff and practiced as taijigun;
  • the qiang, a 2 m long spear or a 4 m long lance.
 
A matched set of two feng huo lun

More exotic weapons include:

Attire and rankingEdit

 
Master Yang Jun in demonstration attire that has come to be identified with tai chi

In practice traditionally no specific uniform is part of tai chi. Modern day practitioners usually wear comfortable, loose T-shirts and trousers made from breathable natural fabrics, that allow for free movement. Despite this, t‘ai-chi ch‘üan has become synonymous with "t‘ai-chi uniforms" or "kung fu uniforms" that usually consist of loose-fitting traditional Chinese styled trousers and a long or short-sleeved shirt, with a Mandarin collar and buttoned with Chinese frog buttons. The long-sleeved variants are referred to as Northern-style uniforms, whilst the short-sleeved, are Southern-style uniforms.

The clothing may be all white, all black, black and white, or any other colour, mostly a single solid colour or a combination of two colours: one colour for the garment and another for the binding. They are normally made from natural fabrics such as cotton or silk. They are usually worn by masters and professional practitioners during demonstrations, tournaments and other public exhibitions.

Tai chi has no standardized ranking system, except the Chinese Wushu Duan wei exam system run by the Chinese wushu association in Beijing. Most schools do not use belt rankings. Some schools present students with belts depicting rank, similar to dans in Japanese martial arts. A simple uniform element of respect and allegiance to one's teacher and their methods and community, belts also mark hierarchy, skill, and accomplishment. During wushu tournaments, masters and grandmasters often wear "kung fu uniforms" which tend to have no belts. Wearing a belt signifying rank in such a situation would be unusual.

Seated tai chiEdit

 
Seated tai chi demonstration

Traditional tai chi was developed for self-defense, but it has evolved to include a graceful form of seated exercise now used for stress reduction and other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, seated tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements. Seated tai chi exercises is touted by the medical community and researchers. It is based primarily on the Yang short form, and has been adopted by the general public, medical practitioners, tai chi instructors, and the elderly. Seated forms are not a simple redesign of the yang short form. Instead, the practice attempts to preserve the integrity of the form, with its inherent logic and purpose. The synchronization of the upper body with the steps and the breathing developed over hundreds of years, and guided the transition to seated positions. Marked improvements in balance, blood pressure levels, flexibility and muscle strength, peak oxygen intake, and body fat percentages can be achieved.[32]

HealthEdit

 
A Chinese woman performs Yang-style tàijíquán.

Clinical studies exploring tai chi's effect on specific diseases and health conditions exist, but their inconsistent approaches and quality prevent firm conclusions.[33]

Tai chi has been promoted for treating various ailments, and is supported by the National Parkinson Foundation and Diabetes Australia, among others. However, medical evidence of effectiveness is lacking and research has been undertaken to address this.[34][35] A 2017 systematic review found that it decreased the falls in older people.[36]

A 2011 comprehensive overview of systematic reviews of tai chi recommended tai chi to older people for its physical and psychological benefits. No conclusive evidence showed benefit for any of the other conditions researched, including Parkinson's disease, diabetes, cancer and arthritis.[34]

A 2015 systematic review found that tai chi could be performed by those with chronic medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, and osteoarthritis without negative effects, and found favorable effects on functional exercise capacity .[37]

In 2015 the Australian Government's Department of Health published the results of a review of alternative therapies that sought to identify any that were suitable for coverage by health insurance. T‘ai-chi was one of 17 therapies evaluated. The study concluded that low-quality evidence suggests that tai chi may have some beneficial health effects when compared to control in a limited number of populations for a limited number of outcomes.[35]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ "Wudang Martial Arts". China Daily. 2010-06-17. Wudang boxing includes boxing varieties such as Taiji (shadowboxing) (...)
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  23. ^ Logan, Logan (1970). Ting: The Caldron, Chinese Art and Identity in San Francisco. San Francisco, California: Glide Urban Center.[ISBN missing]
  24. ^ Dunning, Jennifer (July 7, 1996), "Sophia Delza Glassgold, 92, Dancer and Teacher", The New York Times
  25. ^ Inventory of the Sophia Delza Papers, 1908–1996 (PDF), Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, February 2006
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  27. ^ "Pytt Geddes (obituary)". The Telegraph. 21 March 2006. Archived from the original on 4 December 2007. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  28. ^ Woolidge, Doug (June 1997). "T'AI CHI". The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. Wayfarer Publications. 21 (3). ISSN 0730-1049.
  29. ^ Yip, Y. L. (Autumn 2002). "Pivot – Qi". The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health and Fitness. Insight Graphics Publishers. 12 (3). ISSN 1056-4004.
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  32. ^ Quarta, Cynthia W. (2001). Tai Chi in a Chair (first ed.). Fair Winds Press. ISBN 1-931412-60-X.
  33. ^ Yang GY, Wang LQ, Ren J, Zhang Y, Li ML, Zhu YT, Luo J, Cheng YJ, Li WY, Wayne PM, Liu JP (2015). "Evidence base of clinical studies on Tai Chi: a bibliometric analysis". PLOS ONE. 10 (3): e0120655. Bibcode:2015PLoSO..1020655Y. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0120655. PMC 4361587. PMID 25775125.
  34. ^ a b Lee, M. S.; Ernst, E. (2011). "Systematic reviews of t'ai chi: An overview". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 46 (10): 713–8. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2010.080622. PMID 21586406. S2CID 206878632.
  35. ^ a b Baggoley C (2015). "Review of the Australian Government Rebate on Natural Therapies for Private Health Insurance" (PDF). Australian Government – Department of Health. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015. Lay summaryGavura, S. Australian review finds no benefit to 17 natural therapies. Science-Based Medicine. (19 November 2015).
  36. ^ Lomas-Vega, R; Obrero-Gaitán, E; Molina-Ortega, FJ; Del-Pino-Casado, R (September 2017). "Tai Chi for Risk of Falls. A Meta-analysis". Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 65 (9): 2037–2043. doi:10.1111/jgs.15008. PMID 28736853. S2CID 21131912.
  37. ^ Chen, Yi-Wen; Hunt, Michael A.; Campbell, Kristin L.; Peill, Kortni; Reid, W. Darlene (2015-09-17). "The effect of Tai Chi on four chronic conditions – cancer, osteoarthritis, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analyses". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 50 (7): bjsports-2014-094388. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-094388. ISSN 1473-0480. PMID 26383108.

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