Taiji simply represent the Yin and Yang essence present in the Universe that we are living in at the moment, the duality that we often discuss about when it comes to the energy force. It can also mean ‘The Grand Ultimate’.
Chuan in Chinese means ’Boxing’ or ’Fist’, therefore Taijichuan is literally meaning ‘The Grand Ultimate Fist’. It’s one of the branches of internal martial arts (Nei jia), the others are Xingyichuan and Baguazhang and within the branch of Taijichuan there are also many sub-branches. We have the Chen Style, Yang, Wu, Wu-Hao and Sun as the main styles and recently popularized Cheng form (Cheng Man Ching).
Taijichuan is widely practiced not only in China but the entire world as a health preserving exercise and martial arts, but to the martial arts lovers, taijichuan is an integral part of the internal fighting system.
The question of what is internal martial art has always bothered some people who are just new to the art itself, especially a convert from external martial arts. To me external and internal martial arts will meet together at one point when both have reached the highest level of skill that is borrow your opponent’s strength and use less of your own strength to effectively defeat an opponent.
Is it just a simple understanding of internal martial arts as soft and flowing in fluidity? In fact Taijichuan does use strength. As Master Chen XiaoWang said once’ how can a person dispose his opponent without using any strength?’ We have to use strength to stand up after squatting down and walking requires the lifting of the legs. To argue that Taijichuan doesn’t use strength is just kidding themselves. Taijichuan uses an intelligent kind of strength, we only use strength when we have to at our opponent’s disadvantage otherwise the use of strength is wasted and strength will disadvantage us if our opponent knows how to borrow our strength.
Chen Style Taijichuan encompasses all of the elements of Taiji (duality)
of soft (not lifeless) and hard (not stiff), fast and slow, silk reeling
to the left and to the right, up and down, substantial and insubstantial
in footwork, big and small movements. Externally appear to be soft, internally
hard. Externally appears to be hard but internally soft (not lifeless).
Any form of taijichuan that does not include these elements of duality
cannot be called “Taijichuan’ as that is the principle of
taiji (Yin and Yang).
What is Chen JiaGou taijichuan?
Chen style taijichuan that most of us are practicing today originated from Chen JiaGou, a small village hidden deep in Henan Province China. It’s here where Chen Wang Ting, a retired Ming Dynasty General created the Chen family taijichuan, based on the theory of Yin and Yang, together with Daoyin (guiding of energy), Tuna (breathing method), Jinglou (Meridian studies) and martial art movements to come up with the most graceful and effective form of martial arts.
Originally formulated for the purpose of martial arts as a fighting system, Chen style taijichuan has maintained its characteristics after 11 generation of practitioners dating back roughly 350 years in a very rich Chen family history.
the early days, it is said that they won’t teach their art to any
outsider that doesn’t bear the Chen family name until Chen ChangXing
broke the family tradition to formally teach to Yang Lu Chan (founder
of Yang family taiji), but unlike the Yang Style which were exposed to
the public early and propagated wider due to the fact that Yang Lu Chan
was famous for being known as ‘ The undefeatable Yang’ while
serving the Ching dynasty teaching martial arts, and later his descendants
altered what he learnt from the Chen family and formulated what we now
know as Yang Style.
While all that was happening, Chen style was still practiced in the rural by the Chen JiaGou villagers and Head of the Chen family maintained its tradition and characteristics which we now know Chen style as it’s suppose to be.
Unlike other styles of tai chi where emphasis is mainly on health preserving, Chen JiaGou taijichuan still preserved its original soft and hard, fast and slow tempo changes, low stances making it very difficult and painful for those who begin Chen Style late in their life. The principles in practicing Chen Style is very demanding with only those who are really dedicated to the practice can go somewhere in terms of achievement.
Nowadays, Head of the Chen style taijichuan and also the Standard Bearer Grand Master Chen XiaoWang constantly travel the world to conduct seminars making it easy for so many Chen style enthusiasts to learn the correct method. As Mrs. Chen (Chen XiaoWang’s wife) said once” if we have a good teacher, they can assist us achieving the result and gong fu much quicker”.
In recent years, Chen JiaGou taijichuan has popularized itself due to more people looking for a cross between hard and soft kind of martial arts, where external martial arts are generally too tiring to maintain long term practice and softened tai chi is inadequate to bring out the interests for some people. Therefore much is needed still to propagate the Chen JiaGou taijichuan. No matter how we try to teach Chen style, it’s important that we must not forget to maintain its original characteristics as passed down to us.
Characteristics and correct methods of practicing Chen style taijichuan.
Requirements in practicing Taichi
Please note: Chen JiaGou taijichuan can be practiced with options of high, medium or low stance and one should only practiced within the limit or the capability their body and if in doubt consult your physician/doctor before training.
Stand properly with your shoulders relaxed and arms naturally down.
Straighten your back down to your waist and let it sink down naturally. This section of the spine curves naturally forward and downward, just relax and retain this shape, and the qi will sink down naturally. Relax your mind and breathe naturally.
The head should be straight, as if a light object has been placed on top of the head and you’re trying to prevent it from falling off.
The Chest section of the body should not be raised or stick out to prevent Qi float to top of body, the shape is neither concave nor convex.
Loosen your hips, knees should be bent, kua (pelvic region) should be relaxed, straight.
While doing the form, avoid big twirly movement of the body. Arm movement are as such that drawing circle with hands at the same arms are twining internally using silk reeling of the body.
Let the revolving waist lead the shoulder and hips, and the revolving ankles lead the knees.
Fold your chest to form a continuous spiral movement from your head to your feet.
If one part of body moves the rest will move with continuous twining.
Health building and benefits in Chen style taijichuan
In the aspect of health building, practicing Chen JiaGou taijichuan correctly can give us full of energy, full of vigour, enhance your skin elasticity, and improve your body coordination and confidence. You can also increase skeleton density, toughness and postpone bone degeneration and fragility. In another word, through relaxation and long term practice, you can effectively defend and enhance the foundation of the nervous system, digestive system, circulatory system, muscle and bone framework in your body, all of which in turn can improve our longevity.
Good Luck on your journey to discovering Chen style taijichuan…….