Tai Chi Chuan

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Tai Chi Ch'uan (太極拳) is a form of Chinese Martial Art which is also practiced for its reputed health and longevity benifits. Tai chi is known as an art of slow motion moving meditation based on a series of fluid, non-impact series on exercises.

Tai Chi Ch'uan loosely translates as "Supreme Ultimate Boxing" or "Grand Ultimate Fist". It is closely associated with the practice of Taoism, and incorporates many Taoist principles into it's practice.

Tai chi is considered by some to be one of three orthodox internal, or soft, Chinese martial arts.

The following quotes were taken from one of the first writings published on the internal arts written in the late 1800s by Li I-Yu, translated by Douglas Wile in lost Tai-Chi classics of the late Ching Dynasty.

How wonderful is T'ai Chi Chuan whose movements follow nature.
The whole body filled with one unbroken chi.
Use the mind and not strength.
The body feels relaxed and the chi lively.
For everywhere chi goes there is a manifestation in the body.
All this is a function of the mind and has nothing to do with brute force.
Movement arises from stillness, But even in movement there is stillness.
The spirit leads the chi in its movement. . ..
Let the strongest aggressor attack us,
While four ounces deflect a thousand pounds.

There are several popular schools, or styles of Tai Chi. Some of these include (in rough order of creation):

Chen style - historically documented from the 1700's, Chen style tai chi arguably does not integrate Taoist principles to the same extent as later styles. Chen style is said to originate in the Chen clan village in Wen County, Henan Province. The first documented teacher was Chen Chang-xing (Chen Shing Xing) (1771 - 1853). Although much earlier legends stretch back to the 13th century or earlier, and such semi-mythical figures as Chang San-feng, the Taoist hermit, no documentary evidence connecting tai chi to such earlier teachers has been found.

Yang style - the most popular and widespread style, developed in the early 1800's. The founder of Yang style was Yang Fu-Kui (Yang Lu-Chan) (1799-1872), who studied under Chen Chang-xing and later modified Chen style tai chi to produce Yang style.

Yang Fu-Kui's passed his tai chi to his son Yang Jian (Jianhou) (1839-1917), who passed it to his son Yang Cheng-Fu (Yang Shao-Ching) (1883-1936).

Yang Cheng-Fu removed the vigorous "Fa-jing" (release of power), energetic jumping, heavy stepping, and other difficult movements to create "Dai Jia" (large frame style). Dai Jia has slow, steady, and soft movements suitable for general practitioners. Thus, Yang Cheng-Fu is largely responsible for systemizing and popularizing the Yang style tai chi practiced today.

Wu style - ??

Sun style - ??