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  Softness triumphs over hardness, feebleness over strength. What is more malleable is always superior over that which is immovable. This is the principle of controlling things by going along with them, of mastery through adaptation.
-Lao Tzu


  Tai Chi Chuan is the name of an internal martial art of Chinese origin. The name means Grand-ultimate Boxing, and refers to the Chinese concept of the Grand Ultimate, or union of Yin and Yang.
    Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art that combines movement with chi. It uses the principals of Yin-Yang and the Five Element theories and is compatible with Chinese medicine, acupuncture and Chinese herb treatment. While the Yin-Yang and the Five Elements are often thought of on a universal scale they also apply to the functioning of the body. Indeed the human body can be thought of as a small universe. Tai Chi Chuan is performed slowly and with smooth continuous motion, unlike most other martial arts that are performed with speed and power. Tai Chi Chuan builds power internally and does not rely on body strength alone. For this reason Tai Chi Chuan can be practiced from childhood into old age with no risk to the practitioner.


There are differing viewpoints, this is the most common

  The history of martial arts in China begins with Bodhidharma, who came to China from India. He brought the precursor of Zen Buddhism to China. He created a form of exercise for his disciples called Shaolin Ch’uan after the Shaolin monastery. The exercise was meant to improve the health of the monks, as well as providing a method of protection.
    The acknowledged creator of Tai Chi Chuan was a Taoist monk, Chang San-feng, who reworked the original forms of Shaolin with a new emphasis on breathing and internal control. He lived sometime between the 12th and 14th centuries AD. Tai Chi Chuan was allegedly revealed to Chang while watching a bird attack a snake. The snake teased the bird, curling around and around in spirals. Thus the circular essence of Tai Chi Chuan. Chang’s disciple, Wang Chung-yueh, was responsible for writing down portions of the art, preserving some of the first records.
    It is not until the seventeenth century that Tai Chi Chuan can be verified historically. Henen Province in northern China was home to the Chen family of Tai Chi Chuan. This family has been credited with developing the Chen style, from which all the major schools, directly or indirectly, have developed. It is generally accepted that this 'new' style of martial art was developed from the popular existing arts at the time. The difference was that its movements were soft. The Chen Village Tai Chi Chuan style was created between the end of the Ming Dynasty and beginning of the Qing Dynasty. The basic standardization of Chen style Tai Chi Chuan was instigated the 9th generation ancestor of the Chen Village, Chen Wang Ting. The Chen family hid the art from outsiders for over 300 years.
    A servant of the Chen family, Yang Lu-chan, observed, secretly practiced and subsequently taught the forms. Yang completed his training, and because of his skill, was invited to teach royal family in Beijing. Yang Lu-Chan had three sons, the first, Hang Feng-hou, died young. Yang Pan-hou and Yang Chien-hou carried on his teachings.

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Yang Chien-hou’s son, Yang Cheng-fu changed the style to be softer while retaining the internal power. The postures became wide and comfortable; the structure was strict and demanding; the body was upright and erect; and the movements were harmoniously flowing, light, agile, and rooted. It was because of the hard work of Yang Cheng-fu that Tai Chi Chuan became popular and developed into what it is today.
    This allowed the onset of many other styles to flourish. An example of this was Wu Yu Xiang, a disciple of Wu Lu Qing, who created Wu style Tai Chi Chuan. Wu Yu Xiang transmitted his style to Hao Wei Zhen who later developed Hao style Tai Chi Chuan. Hao Wei Zhen passed his style to Sun Lu Tang who created Sun style Tai Chi Chuan. Yang Pan Hou taught Chuan You who then transmitted the art to his son, Wu Jian Chuan, thereby creating the other Wu style Tai Chi Chuan.
    In summation, it can be said that Yang style Tai Chi Chuan is the root of Wu, Hao (partially), Sun, and Wu style Tai Chi Chuan.
    In 1956, the National Chinese Sports Association extracted postures from Yang style Tai Chi Chuan to create a simplified version of Tai Chi Chuan. Afterwards, the 88 posture and the 48 posture Tai Chi Chuan routines were created.



  Tai Chi Chuan, also known as shadow boxing, is one of the major branches of the traditional Chinese martial art form known as wushu. Its name is derived from the philosophical term T'ai Chi Ch'uan, the first known written reference of which appeared in the Book of Changes written over 3000 years ago during the Zhou Dynasty (1100-1221 BC). In this book it says that "in all changes exists Tai Chi Chuan, which causes the two opposites in everything.'
The real origins of Tai Chi Chuan are obscure. The more romantic and mystical accounts date the beginnings of Tai Chi Chuan back as far as the I 5th, 12th or even the 8th century, the preferred version attributing it to a famous 15th century Taoist priest, Zhang Shanfeng.
Less romantic but more reliably sourced accounts date the development of Tai Chi Chuan back to Chen Wangting, a I 6th century Royal Guard of the Chen village in Wenxian County, Henan Province. After he retired from the army, influenced by Taoism, he led a simple life of farming, and studying and teaching the martial arts.
In the 1670's Chen Wangting developed several Tai Chi Chuan routines, which included the old frame form still practiced today. He was greatly influenced by a famous general of the Imperial army, Qi Jiguang, who wrote an important textbook on military training, Boxing in 32 Forms, but was also influenced by other schools of boxing in existence at that time.
Perhaps more significantly, Chen Wangting also assimilated into his martial art routines the ancient philosophical techniques of Daoyin and Tuna, together with the use of clarity of consciousness as developed in the practice of Taoism.
Daoyin is the concentrated exertion of inner force, whilst Tuna is a set of deep breathing exercises which in more recent times has been developed into the popular Qigong deep breathing exercises. By combining the martial arts exercises with the practice of Daoyin and Tuna, shadow boxing became a complete system of exercise in which the practitioner's mental concentration, breathing and actions were closely connected, thus paving the way for its use in future times as an ideal form of exercise for all aspects of health care.
Tai Chi Chuan was passed on to and refined by further generations of the Chen family but was not widely practiced outside the area of Chen's village until the early 19th century when Yang Luchan learned Chen style Tai Chi Chuan whilst employed in the Chen household. Yang Luchan soon became a highly skilled and enthusiastic practitioner, developing his own particular style of Tai Chi Chuan, which he taught to a great number of people, including the members of the Imperial Court. The simpler Yang style of Tai Chi Chuan has become very popular in modern times.
All the other major schools of Tai Chi Chuan in practice today, including the Wu, Sun and Wu schools, originate from either Chen's style or Yang's style.
Many people today are unaware that the original form of Tai Chi Chuan was the Chen style, since it remained until the early 1900's a form only practiced in the Chen village. Chen Xin, a member of the 16th generation of the Chen family, in his later years wrote and illustrated an immensely detailed book about the Chen school of Tai Chi Chuan that describes the correct postures and movements and explains the philosophical and medical background to the routines. This was not, however, published until 1932 after Chen Fake, a great grandson of the celebrated Chen Changxing, had popularized the Chen style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.
Chen Fake, who was of the 17th generation of the Chen family, was one of the most highly achieved and possibly the greatest ever leader of the Chen school of Tai Chi Chuan. There have been many stories told about his amazing prowess in Tai Chi Chuan and also about his near perfect disposition: he was universally well-liked, making no enemies whatsoever during the 29 years he lived and taught in Beijing up until his death in 1957.
Chen Fake was the youngest child in his family and his father was 60 years old when he was born. His two elder brothers had died in an epidemic and as a result Chen was a very spoilt child. He was also rather a weakling and, because he was so spoilt, he was never forced to practice Tai Chi Chuan. He was a rather lazy child and, even though he knew Tai Chi Chuan would improve his health, he could never be bothered to spend much time practicing it. His older cousin, on the other hand, was very highly thought of for his strength and expertise in Tai Chi Chuan. By the time Chen Fake was 14 years old he was the laughing stock of his village. His father was recognized as the leader and most highly skilled practitioner of Tai Chi Chuan in the village so as Chen Fake grew older he began to feel ashamed of himself: he began to realize that he was letting his father down. He decided to try and catch up to his cousin's level of skill. But no matter how much he improved, his cousin also improved by an equal amount, and he began to worry that he would never be able to catch up with him.
Then. one day, whilst they were walking to the fields, his cousin remembered they had left something behind and sent Chen Fake back to fetch it. He told him to "...run back and fetch it, I shall walk slowly so that you can catch me up'. As Chen Fake was running back to catch up with his cousin it suddenly occurred to him that if he practiced harder than his cousin he would eventually be able to catch up with him. From then on he used every available minute of the day to practice, even when other people were resting, and soon improved so much in strength and technique that he was able to beat his cousin in a duel. His father had been away from home at that time for about 3 years so Chen Fake's spectacular improvement could not have been attributed to any special coaching from him. Rather, it was the result of the incredible number of hours he had put into practicing.
He kept up this habit of constant practice throughout his life, even after his prowess had been acknowledged by his students in Beijing when they presented him with a silver shield on which was written 'To the Greatest in Tai Chi Chuan". in his teaching he always emphasized to his students the need for constant practice to achieve results.
Another interesting story concerns a wushu contest that the chief of the Beijing Wushu Center, Xu Yusheng, was organizing. He was a well known wushu expert before he became one of Chen's students, and he asked Chen to be a judge of the contest. Chen refused saying that he was not qualified to judge all forms of wushu since he only knew Tai Chi Chuan, but agreed to be an adviser. At a discussion on the contest rules, someone proposed that the duels be limited to 15 minutes. To save time, Chen suggested that 3 minutes should be long enough. When questioned further he confessed that he really thought a count of "one, two, three" should be enough. Li Juanhua, who was a former wushu coach and stood 2 meters tall and weighed l00 kilograms, was extremely dubious about this and challenged Chen to defeat him within this time limit. Li made the first move and Chen parried, with one movement lifting Li some 30 centimeters off the ground and dashing him against a wall, at the same time breaking a picture, showering him in plaster dust, yet not injuring him at all.
Chen Fake taught thousands of students during his years in Beijing, many keen to improve their health and even to cure a specific illness. Amongst his closest disciples was Tian Xiuchen. Other famous students included Hong Junsheng, Liu Ruizhan, Tang Hao, Gu Liuxin, Lei Mumin, Li Jinwu, Feng Zhiqiang and Li Zhongyiun.



Yang Fukui (1799-1872), better known as Yang Luchan, was born in Yongnian County in north China's Hebei Province. Because of poverty, he had to leave his home village at the age of ten for Chenjiagou in Wenxian County in central China's Henan Province to make a living. He served as an attendant in the Chen family there and learned the "Lao jia" ("Old Frame") style of Tai Chi Chuan as well as "Tui Shou" (push hands) and combat with weapons from the famous Chinese boxing master Chen Changxing (1771-1853). After thirty years of industrious study and practice, he re- turned to Yongnian. Before his departure for his home village, Chen Chang-xing told him that since he had become skilful wushu master, he would not have to worry about food and clothing for the rest of his life.
When Yang Luchan returned to Yongnian County, he put up at the Tai He Tang drugstore, which was run by the Chen family of Chenjiagou. The house belonged to the Wus, and their three brothers -Wu Cheng- qing, Wu Heqing and Wu Ruqing were all enthusiasts of the folk martial art. They admired Yang Luchan's superb skill and learnt wushu from him.
The local people in Yongnian County held Yang Luchan in high esteem and praised his Tai Chi Chuan as "cotton boxing", "soft boxing" or "solvent boxing" for its wonderful effects in overcoming the strong and beating the adversary without injuring him and for its flexible attacking and defending tactics.
At that time, Wu Ruqing was a councilor in the Sichuan office of the judicial department of the imperial court. He recommended Yang Luchan to teach Taiwan in the ancient capital city of Peking where many nobles and kinsmen of the Qing Dynasty learnt wushu from him. The House of Prince Duan, one of the royal families in the capital, had employed a large number of boxing masters and wrestlers, and some of them were anxious to have a trial of strength with Yang Luchan, but he invariably declined their challenge politely. One day a famous boxing master of high prestige insisted on competing with him to see who was the stronger. The boxer suggested that they sit on two chairs and pit their right fists against each other. Yang Luchan had no choice but to agree. Shortly after the con. test began, that boxing master started to sweat all over and his chair creaked as if it was going to fall apart. But Yang Luchan looked as composed and serene as ever. Then he got up and in a gentle tone to the onlookers. "The master's skill is indeed superb. Only his chair is not as firmly made as mine." The man was so moved by his modesty that he never failed to praise Yang's exemplary conduct and unmatched wushu skill. Later on, whenever anyone wanted to try his prowess with Yang Luchan, he would throw the challenger to the ground without injuring him. In this way, Yang Luchan gained great fame and high prestige and was nicknamed "Yang the Invincible." He was later appointed a wushu officer in the Qing court with the rank higher than the seventh-grade official. When he paid a visit to Chenjiagou to see his old friends, he received a warm welcome.
At that time there was a wushu master named Liu who had taught thousands of students. One day he challenged Yang Banhou (1837-1892), who was one of Yang Luchan's sons, to a contest. Yang Banhou, who was then in the prime of youth and a bit bellicose by nature, accepted the challenge without hesitation. During the contest which attracted hundreds of people, Yang Banhou sent his opponent reeling to the ground several meters away with a stunning blow of his palm. Since then, Yang Banhou was also called "Yang the Invincible".
The number of people wishing to learn wushu began to increase. To meet popular needs, Yang Luchan gradually deleted from the series of movements such difficult actions as jumps and leaps, explosion of strength and vigorous foot stamping. After revisions by his third son Yang Jianhou (1839-1917), this series of movements came to be known as "Zhong lia" (Medium Frame"). Later, it was again revised by Yang Chengfu (1883- 1936), the third son of Yang Jianhou, which finally developed into the present "Da lia" ("Big Frame") style because of its extended and natural posture, slow and even movements. It was different from his uncle Yang Banhou's style which was known under the name "Xiao lia" ("Small Frame"). This is now the most popular Yang school of Tai Chi Chuan.
The Yang school of Tai Chi Chuan was born out of the Chen school of Tai Chi Chuan which was known as "Lao lia" ("Old Frame"). The movements are relaxed, even and graceful like the drifting clouds and flowing stream, quite unlike the Chen style which alternates slow with quick movements and vigorous with restrained and controlled actions. The performance of the Yang style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan is terse and simple and always follows a circular path, just like "reeling off raw silk from a cocoon." The movements are naturally combined with breathing which should be deep and should "sink to the dantian" ( a point in the lower belly slightly below the navel). Here again it is quite different from the Chen style which combines "sink deep breath to the dantian" with "breath circulation in the lower belly".
Good for the health and known for its curative effects, the Yang school of Tai Chi Chuan which is easy to learn has caught the fancy of an increasing number of people, and that is why it is more popular than the Chen school.
The magnificent skill of three generations of the Yang family won them great renown throughout the capital. What was noteworthy was the fact that they unstintingly passed on their skill to many young people, which is perhaps one of the reasons why there are so many followers of the Yang school of Tai Chi Chuan today. In 1928, Yang Chengfu was invited to teach Tai Chi Chuan successively in Nanjing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Han- kou. Thus the Yang school of Tai Chi Chuan spread throughout the country.
Noted for its extended and natural postures, well-knit gentle and steady movements, the Yang style of Tai Chi Chuan combines vigor with gentleness, with its actions following a circular path. Each and every form or movement contains the technique of countering and overpowering the adversary.
The Yang school of Tai Chi Chuan has three "frame" forms - high, medium and low. The learner may determine the amount of exercise in accordance with his or her age, physical conditions and specific requirements (such as keeping fit, preventing and curing diseases, physical training and recreation and competition).
Because the movements are extended and natural, gentle and lithesome, graceful and unique in style, as well as simple and easy to learn, the Yang school of Tai Chi Chuan has won the favor of large number of wushu enthusiasts.
Yang Chengfu, one of the founders of this school, was a great wushu master of his time. Whenever he practiced Tai Chi Chuan, he strictly followed the routines and was never lax in his movements.  The movements of his entire body embody the quintessence of Tai Chi Chuan exercises. Yang Chengfu once said. "Tai Chi Chuan is an art with strength concealed in the gentle movements, like an 'iron hand
a velvet glove' or a needle concealed in cotton." He cautioned learners always keep to the roundness and relaxation in their movements which, said, must be gentle, natural, flexible and smooth as well as
with one's mind. Actually, this is a summing-up of his own experience attainment.
After Yang Chengfu came to the southern part of the country, he gradually realized that Tai Chi Chuan had the efficacy of treating chronic disease, building up one's health and bringing longevity. When he gave Tai Chi Chuan exhibitions in the "Zhirou Wushu Association" during his early days in Shanghai, which was set up by his disciple Chen Weiming, an editor working in the "Qing Dynasty History Institute", he performed the movements of kicking with speed and force. Later, however, to suit the needs of treating chronic disease, he changed them into slow movements with the inner exertion of force. And in such movements as punching downward and punching the opponents pubic region, he only made imitations instead of manifesting exertions of force, thus making the set of movements continuous and evenly paced.
Yang Chengfu was a stalwart and handsome man. Creating a style all his own, he had mastered extraordinary skill in "Tui Shou" (push hands) and was good at both attack and defense. Though his punches were delivered in a gentle manner, they were as hard as a steel bar wrapped in soft cloth. He could deliver a stunning blow with only little action, and no sooner had the opponent felt that he was attacked than he was flung several meters away without being hurt. While other schools might regard injuring the opponent as the main objective, Yang Chengfu merely overpowered the opponent without hurting him, thereby blazing a new trail for the art of attack in the martial arts. Small wonder many learners not only wanted to master the skill but enjoyed doing so.
Yang Shaohou (1862-1930), Yang Chengfu's elder brother, was also a
famous wushu master who learnt most of his skills from his uncle Yang Banhou and, like his uncle, he was bellicose by nature. His T'ai Chi Ch'uan "frame" style was originally similar to his brother's, but later it gradually charged to the style of high "frame" with lively footwork and well-knit small movements, alternating quick with slow actions. He was swift and powerful in delivering his blows and, with eyes blazing like torches, a grim smile on his face and roaring and howling as he darted back and forth, he was held in ,awe by others. The technical features of this kind of Tai Chi Chuan were: overcoming strong attacks with soft movements, adapting oneself to others' movements and following up with quick attacks, using the motion of "sudden connection" to defeat the opponent with surprise attacks. The hand movements included catching, pushing and capturing, injuring the attacker's muscles and harming his bones, attacking the opponent's vital points and "controlling" his arteries and veins, using "continuous" and "sudden connection" force to throw the attacker to the ground with lightning speed.
When teaching his pupils, Yang Shaohou would attack them without pulling his punches. His attacking movements were swift and ferocious, and his facial expression was changeable and varied. All this made it difficult for his trainees to imitate, which was why many of them dropped out halfway. And that was also perhaps why Yang Shaohou's style of Tai Chi Chuan was not as popular as Yang Changfu's, though the two brothers enjoyed an equally high reputation during their lifetime.
Yang Shaohou followed his brother to the southern parts of the country and gave lectures in Shanghai and Nanjing. Mang officials and rich more chants vied with one another to learn from him.
Wu Jianquan, a famous master of the Wu style of Tai Chi Chuan, invited Yang Shaohou to teach his son Wu Gongyi. After several months' clashing by Yang Shaohou, Wu Gongyi mastered the skills of catching, throwing and other techniques, which made him a better wushu expert than other disciples of the Wu school of Tai Chi Chuan.
Yang Chengfu's techniques improved and matured with the passage of time. In his middle age, his wushu skill reached its apex, and his performance had that touch of magnificence and gallantry as few maestros could acquire. In the book Tai Chi Chuan Techniques written by his disciple Chen Weiming in 1925, there were 37 photographs showing Yang Chengfu in different postures and 4 photographs showing Yang Chengfu doing "Tui Shou" (push hands) exercises with Xu Yusheng. In the book A Manual of Tai Chi Chuan compiled by Zheng Manqian in 1934 for Yang Chengfu, there were 104 photographs. Although Yang's weight was 290 pounds at that time, his movements were natural and relaxed, combining vigor with gentleness. It could be said that he had attained the acme of technical proficiency.
Among his students who later became great Tai Chi Chuan masters and teachers were: Cui Yishi (Beijing), Li Chunnian (Sichuan Province), Chen Weiming, Wu Huichuan, Fu Zhongwen (Shanghai), Niu Chunming (Hang- zhou), Dong Yingjie (Hongkong). Only Fu Zhongwei is still living today.
Yang Chengfu's eldest son, Yang Zhenming, has been teaching T'ai Chi Ch'uan in Hong Kong for a long time. Yang Zhenji, his second son, is at present the chairman of the wushu association of the city of Handan in Hebei Province. Yang Zhenduo, the third son, is now teaching Tai Chi Chuan in the city of Taiyuan in Shanxi Province and is also the chairman of the Research Association of the Yang school of T'ai Chi Ch'uan in that province. In November 1961 he went to Shanghai to give a Tai Chi Chuan exhibition which caused a great sensation. Many Tai Chi Chuan fans made a special trip to Shanghai to watch his performance.   



  Tai Chi Chuan is customarily divided into different styles of forms, identified by family name. Chen style is the oldest but not the best known, it is characterized by low stances, overtly visible coiling (spiral body motions), and distinctive power releases. The style called Yang is the most widespread today. Yang style can be identified by soft flowing movements with wide postures and motion. The Yang style is followed in popularity by the Wu style. The styles are very similar, with Yang style being a bit broader, and Wu style containing smaller movements. Sun style created by Sun Lu-Tang is derived from the Wu style and consists of compact movements with little visible coiling. Several other styles are also exist as well as variations of styles.



From its origination around the sixties of the seventeenth century up to now, the Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan has gone through a history of more than 300 years. As the oldest one among Wjiquan schools, it was created by the famous martial arts master Chen Wangting, a native of Chenjiagou, Wen County, Henan Province, China. Although some other popular Tai Chi Chuan schools such as Yang, Wu and Sun styles have been developed on the base of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan, it has always preserved its original features through the ages. The differences between Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan and the other schools include the following; prompt and explosive actions embodied in the slow and gentle movements of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan. Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan places emphasis on the twining, twisting and spiraling motion which can lead to a strong, changeable and unpredictable offensive or defensive. There are relative difficult movements such as soft neutralization, explosive strike
and various jumps in routines of Chen Style. Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan can be divided into
several kinds such as Old Form, New Form, Big Frame and Small Frame, and they have their own distinguishing features and multitudinous barehanded or armed routines.

Characteristics of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan
Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan shares the common features that the other schools of Tai Chi Chuan have. Its outstanding features are usually described as "having both form and spirit", "combining inside and outside into one". The movements should not only have the form of attack and defense, but also be performed in the spirit of attack and defense. Moreover, all the movements should be in harmony with one's breathing and consciousness, so that the unity of internal spirit and external appearance can be achieved. Like the other schools of martial arts do, movements of Tai Chi Chuan also consists of skills of kicking, striking, throwing and joint-locking, yet the routine of Yang, Wu and Sun Styles should performed slowly and gently. However, the unique style of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan should not be ignored.

Abdominal Paradoxical Respiration
Abdominal paradoxical respiration is contrary to normal method but is specially required in practicing Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan. The way to carry out this unique breathing is to: Inhale with the lower part of the abdomen gradually pulled in and the chest expanded, and exhale with the lower part of the abdomen slowly bulged out and the chest contracted. In this way, you can strengthen your diaphragm and abdominal muscles, and improve the blood circulation with a broader range of fluctuation of abdominal pressure. Often, the movements of distinct collection or explosive discharge of strength emerge in routines of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan, and the rhythm of motion changes frequently. Thereby, the way of breathing is not immutable and the abdominal paradoxical respiration is not always required. While conducting ordinary movements, you might breathe deeply and naturally, coordinating respiration with actions of the limbs and trunk. However, the moment you are accumulating or exerting strength, speeding up or slowing down the pace to a great extent, the abdominal paradoxical respiration would make its appearance clearly.

Spiral Thread-twining Strength
The thread-twining strength is one of the important features of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, and it is particularly noticeable with Chen Style. In practicing Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan, you are required to move your limbs always along circular paths, to apply strength as if twining silk thread or reeling it off a cocoon. The mind is dominant, guiding all actions and directing strength through the joints in proper order. Every section of the body is linked up, so nothing would remain still if any part of the body is in motion. In a sense, Tai Chi Chuan actually takes the shapes of a ball, with the ankles and the legs , the wrists and the arms, the waist and the spine constantly twisting, therefore manifesting a unique style of uninterrupted spiral motion. Only in this way can you smoothly neutralize the oncoming force from your opponent while doing push-hand exercises. It can also help you to increase the initial length of the muscles so as accumulate inner power, therefore in discharge, the limbs can be extended explosively like a spring.

Strength from Waist and Crotch
Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan distinguishes itself from others by its obvious and speedy discharge of strength, one method of which is usually called "strength from waist and crotch". It is actually a combined energy, with the waist as the dominant factor, accompanied by the twist at the hips and the opening-closing motion of the crotch. As the proverb runs, "Waist is the dominator." The center of the waist is the spine which should remain straight and erect, and it plays an important role in controlling the tension and the relaxation of the lumbar and abdominal muscles and the rotation of the torso. Almost any strength whether it is the internal implicit force or the external exerted power, comes out from the waist and crotch, passes through the limbs and reaches the special part of the body, thus accomplishing a complete discharge of strength.

Shaking Power
The shaking power is a combination of the thread-twining strength and the strength from waist and crotch. When the thread-twining strength and the strength from waist and crotch reach the special part of the body that is going to put forth force, they combine into explosive power, causing the part of the body to shake all of a sudden. For instance, while punching, the strength comes out from the waist and crotch, flows through the arm by means of twisting and twining, and reaches the fist as it promptly and spirally strikes at the destination. Just at the moment, with the torso twisting swiftly and the wrist shaking vigorously, the fist springs, exerting a kind of short, strong bouncy power. It is all the same with other parts of the body.

One of the differences between Chen Style and the other schools is that there are a lot of stamps in routines of Chen Style T'ai Chi Ch'uan. Stand on one leg with the other foot raised. As you bend the leg at the knee to squat down, the other foot falls and then forcibly stamps on the floor with a smack. 'This is called "single stamp". On landing after a jump, both feet stamp on the floor in quick succession. And this is called "double stamps". A stamp should be short and firm, and usually be accompanied by abdominal paradoxical respiration. Inhale with the abdomen pulled in when the front rises; direct the energy stream down while the foot falls; and exhale when the whole sole of the foot strongly and promptly stamps on the floor. A sound can also be given with the expiration and notice must be taken to lower the hips and release force when the foot touches the ground.

The "Boxing Manual" handed down by predecessors makes it a rule that "There must be a fold between
traveling to and fro, and a transition between advance and retreat." Here, "folding does not refer to a bend at some joint, but a turn in the path of a special part of the body. If a movement has a path first in one direction and then in the opposite direction, you should conduct a "folding" for the turn in the path, so as to change the direction flowingly, as if inserting a curve to connect to connect two line segments smoothly. A Wushu saying goes: "Intend to rise, descend first; Wish to move left, go right before." The way of "folding" is that" When the previous movement reaches its end and the next is in another direction, you should conduct a small circular turn, moving first in the previous direction and then transforming smoothly to the next. The "folding" actions of arms, especially the wrist are quite clear. However, only with the aid of twisting at the waist, can "folding" be consummately manifested.

Spiral twining or reeling in short, is a kind of unique motion with power passing through spirally from its root to the special part of the body in power order.
Spiral twining is the result of coordination of all parts of the body. It takes shape with the continuous rotations of the legs, torso and arms, and the twists at ankles, waist and wrists. Explained in detail, a spiral twining is such an action that the arm rotates round its own axis while it is
traveling in an arc through space, just as the earth revolves both round the sun and on its own access. The earth moves in a certain path and at a certain speed, yet the movements of the arms in doing Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan are changeable both in path and at speed. In other words, to fulfill the requirement of "Once any part in motion, nothing would remain still", the hand should cooperate harmoniously with the legs and the torso, should move and turn uninterruptedly, thereby displaying various twining throughout the whole process.

Hardness and Softness Supplementing Each Other, Quickness Alternating with Slowness
During the process of doing Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan, the changes from hardness to softness, from quickness to slowness are particularly noticeable. 'Me moving or transitive phase of an action stresses softness, while the phase when a special part of the body reaches a final position places emphasis on hardness. Generally speaking, softness means a slow pace of movement and continuous twining. However, hardness can be divided into three circumstances. First, you can only slightly speed up the motion, applying inner power; second, you should accelerate the action to exert strength; and third, you should quicken the movement sharply, utilizing explosively power. No matter what it is, the transition from one state to another should be smooth and natural. When it stresses softness, be sure not to be feeble, you ought to guide your energy stream to retain certain force. On the other hand, when it stresses hardness, keep your movements from being stiff and clumsy. You might direct your energy stream to promote your power and apply the strength from the waist and crotch to manifest sturdiness and vigor.

Basic Rules of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan

Basic Body Positions

While practicing Tai Chi Chuan, you should be calm, getting rid of any distracting thought and concentrating your attention on the exercise. body should be erect, and the muscles and joints should be naturally relaxed, so that the viscera can be in a comfortable state. The requirements for the body are as follows.

The Head
In practicing Tai Chi Chuan, the position of the head must be strictly maintained. You should hold the head upright with the neck naturally relaxed and the chin slightly tucked in, as if you were carrying a pitcher of water on the head. The movement of the neck must coordinate with the change in position of the body and the turning of the torso. Be sure not to allow the head to sway. There is a saying relating to this respect: "Leading propping force up imaginarily". This indicates that you must get a sense of imaginarily pushing the acupuncture point "Baihui" on the top of your head upward, as if your head were hoisted up with a rope. An upright head makes it possible to assume an erect body posture, to preserve a tranquil mind and to keep a vigorous spirit.
The facial expression should be earnest, relaxed and natural. Close the mouth gently with the tongue flat and its tip softly touching the palate. Breathe naturally through the nose. But while you are exerting strength, you can slightly open the mouth so as to promote your power with the expiration through both the nose and the mouth.

The Shoulders and the Arms
While in practice, you must see that your shoulders are even, relaxed and lowered. Do not shrug them at any time. Keep the elbows slightly bent and dropped. As a jargon says: "Elbow never clings to ribs, nor does it go far away from ribs." This description means that when you withdraw the arm, you must not bend the elbow excessively and draw it so close as to nestle against the torso, and a space of a standing fist should be left under the armpit so that the arm can move round freely; and while you extend the arm, you must not straighten the elbow completely so that the elbow never goes too far away thereby losing its function to protect the ribs. In fact, the arms should be well rounded throughout the whole process. Be sure to avoid any straight or angled movement.
The wrists should be flexible, moving nimbly and tenaciously in line with the torso and the arms. Much attention should be paid to the subtle changes of the hands which are brought along by the rotation of the arms. 'Me wrist should be sunk in some fixed position such as pushing hand.

The Chest and the Back
One of the basic rules is "keeping chest in and back extended". It reminds us that while doing Tai Chi Chuan, do not throw the chest out, nor draw it too far in, but just keep it slightly restrained. Ibis description also means that the back should be straight so that you can get a sense of "back up". In fact, the muscles on
both the chest and the back should be relaxed so as to eliminate tension on the ribs, to guarantee smooth and natural breathing, and to allow the arms to move freely. Be sure not to hump the back.

The Spine and the Waist
The spine is the mainstay of human body, playing a most important role in practicing Tai Chi Chuan. It must be held normally erect. You must not arch or jut out any section of it, nor incline it to either side so as to avoid unnecessary muscular tension on the torso. Likewise, the waist, namely the lumbar section of the body, is the central link, harmonizing actions, regulating postures, keeping balance, ensuring freedom of the torso in turning, smoothing the transition of movements from one to another and propelling strength to special part of the body. This is exactly what the saying "waist is the dominator" implies. While in practice, the waist should be naturally relaxed. Do not thrust the belly out, nor draw it too far in. Pull the abdomen slightly in while inhaling, and bulge it slightly out by guiding the energy stream down to the acupuncture point "Dantian" while exhaling. 'Me role of waist is particularly conspicuous in Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan. The strength accumulation is fulfilled through obvious twisting at the waist which brings the arm to move. On the other hand, only with swift twisting at the waist can the powerful exertion of strength be accomplished.

The Buttocks
Hold the buttocks slightly in and avoid specially protruding them out or tucking them too far in, so as not to spoil the normal position of the body and hinder the legs from moving nimbly.

The Legs
In practicing Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan, special care must be given to the position and motion of the legs which are of great importance to
the stability and balance of the body, as well as the flexibility and deftness of the upper limbs. You should bend or extend the knee naturally and smoothly according to the special requirement of the action. 'Me hips should be lowered and relaxed, and the crotch should be held open and rounded, therefore ensuring agile footwork, big strides, smooth shifting of the weight and high kicks of the feet. You might keep the hips at knee level as far as possible while forming a bow stance or a horse riding stance. However, you can appropriately adjust the height of the stance in accordance with your age and physical conditions.

Body Technique
All the movements of Tai Chi Chuan conform to the normal physiological states of muscles and joints. therefore, you should try to obtain a sense of natural yielding, not that of awkwardness, throughout the whole process of practice. Regardless of the pace of a movement, the height of a stance and the direction in which the torso turns, the body should remain upright, natural, poised, relaxed and dexterous, but not stiff, full, feeble and buoyant. In detail, the body technique of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan in common use includes the following.

Lifting of the Flank
This relates to the slight up-and-down relative motion of the flanks, and it actually refers to the shifting of the torso weight between the left and the right parts of the
waist, which results in the transformation of emptiness and solidness of the flanks, hips and legs. When you place your torso weight on the left part of the lumbar section with the left flank set firm on the left hip, and thereby on the left leg, the right flank is slightly lifted, as if the right part of the waist were propped up by the left part. In this condition, the left part of the waist is solid, the left hip and the left leg are solid too; yet the right part of the waist, together with the right hip and leg, is empty and vice versa.

Turnings of the Torso
Turn your torso to the left or to the right with the hips almost stationary. Keep the head erect and confirm its motion to the turn of the torso which is carried out with the lumbar and abdominal muscles as the active contractors. For instance, if you turn your torso to the left, you should face the left side; and if you turn your torso to the right, you should correspondingly face the right side.
Rolling of the Waist (circling of the torso)
Initiated by the lumbar and abdominal muscles, the upper body rolls round the lumbar spine with the torso straight and the hips almost stationary, moving in a tiny horizontal clockwise or counterclockwise until it resumes the previous position. Although it is actually an action of the torso, it is called "rolling the waist" because of the important role which the waist plays in the movement.
It is often difficult for beginners to distinguish between the application of lumbar and abdominal muscles and the motion of the hips while doing Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan, therefore beginners are subject to such a mistake as only turning hips with the waist still.

Eye Technique
Eyes are the windows of the soul, expressing the internal consciousness and incarnating the ingeniousness of the movements. Ancient martial arts regarded the expression in one's eyes as a means of first deterrent in actual combat. The importance of the eye technique is rightly delineated by a Wushu saying, "Of a hundred boxing skills, the eye is the vanguard." If one is unable to apply eye technique correctly in practice, it is difficult for him to display his prowess and smartness, and he wants some exercise to improve his skill. You should open your eyes naturally to look horizontally at the attacking hand or in the main direction of attack, with side sight showing consideration for surroundings. 'Me eyes should be well coordinated with the movements of the hands, legs and the torso. Keep your facial expression natural, earnest, calm and resourceful. Do not slant the head, nor cast a sidelong glance or stare angrily with the eyes wide opened. The methods in detail are as follows.
During the transitional process between forms or in the phase the arms are in motion, eyes should follow the main attacking hand (usually the hand in front).
In a fixed posture with a hand in front of the face, you should look through the tip of the middle finger forward. If one hand goes to the left and the other to the right, or one up and the other down, you should look horizontally to the front.

Chen Tai Chi Chuan Links



  Yang style can be identified by soft flowing movements with wide postures and motion. The motions are circular, and the form flows with little or no abrupt movements. Yang Tai Chi Chuan is the most common form practiced today and is easier for older people to learn and practice.

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   We can look upon the practice of T'ai Chi Ch'uan in two ways: First, it is a method of physical exercise. It is a non-jarring, slow form of exercise that is safe and beneficial to all age groups. It teaches discipline and concentration while performing a physically demanding exercise. Second, it acts as a catalyst in that when performed by our body it causes certain beneficial reactions to take place. As our muscles move they exert pressure on our veins, forcing our blood flow towards the heart, improving our circulation. Meanwhile, the deep breathing causes the diaphragm to expand outwards and downwards and contract inwards and upwards, and this movement of the diaphragm gently `massages' the liver and the intestines. With regular practice of Tai Chi Chuan, it is possible to keep blood and energy circulation smooth in the entire body and prevent disease. Traditional Chinese medical theory places prevention in the highest esteem; correcting a problem before any symptom occurs.
    Tai Chi Chuan can be practiced by persons of any age. Because if it’s slow movement it is not overly stressful to the body and is very beneficial to people recovering from illness or injury. Tai Chi Chuan relieves body tension by distributing the tension evenly over the body, relaxing tight areas. With time and practice this relaxation can carry over to other areas of life, almost as if you are living Tai Chi Chuan all the time.
    Tai Chi Chuan is also practical. It teaches self defense while improving health. It must be remembered that T'ai Chi Ch'uan is a martial art and practiced with that end in mind. All movements have a martial application and can be used for defense. A T'ai Chi Ch'uan master, Professor Cheng Man-ch’ing said, “When practicing Tai Chi Chuan alone, you must imagine that there is an opponent in front of you.” This gives purpose to your movement.


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Revised: March 02, 2015