Taijiquan (T'ai Chi Ch'u"an)

Bob Hubbard

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From the rec.martialarts FAQ

(Contributors: William Breazeal - breazeal@tweedledee.ucsb.edu,
Michael Robinson - robinson@cogsci.berkeley.edu,
Simon Ryan/Peter Wakeham - s.ryan@trl.oz.au)

INTRO:

One of the three orthodox "internal" styles of Chinese martial art
(the other two being Xingyiquan and Baguazhang). The term
"Taiji" refers to the ancient Chinese cosmological concept of the
interplay between two opposite yet complementary forces (Yin and Yang)
as being the foundation of creation. "Quan" literaly means "fist"
and denotes an unarmed method of combat. Taijiquan as a martial
art is based on the principle of the soft overcoming the hard.

ORIGIN: Chenjiagou, Wen County, Henan Province, China.

HISTORY:

The origins of Taijiquan are often attributed to one Zhang Sanfeng
(a Taoist of either the 12th or 15th century depending on the
source) who created the art after witnessing a fight between a snake
and a crane. These stories were popularized in the early part of this
century and were the result of misinformation and the desire to
connect the art with a more famous and ancient personage. All of the
various styles of Taijiquan which are in existence today can be
traced back to a single man, Chen Wangding, a general of the latter
years of the Ming Dynasty. After the fall of the Ming and the
establishment of the Qing Dynasty (1644), Chen Wangding returned to
the Chen village and created his forms of boxing. Originally
containing up to seven forms, only two forms of Chen Style
Taijiquan have survived into the present.

The Art was only taught to members of the Chen clan until a promising
young outsider named Yang Luzhan was accepted as a student in the
early part of the 19th century. Yang Luzhan (nicknamed "Yang without
enemy" as he was reportedly a peerless fighter) modified the original
Chen style and created the Yang style of Taijiquan, the most
popular form practiced in the world today. Wu Yuxiang learned the Art
from Yang Luzhan and a variation of the original Chen form from Chen
Jingbing (who taught the "small frame" version of Chen Taijiquan)
and created the Wu style. A man named Hao Weizhen learned the
Wu style from Wu Yuxiang's nephew and taught the style to Sun
Ludang, who in turn created the Sun style (Sun was already an
established master of Xingyiquan and Baguazhang when he learned
Taijiquan. He combined his knowledge of the other arts when
creating his style). Yang Luzhan had another student, a Manchu named
Chuan You (or Quan You), who in turned taught the Art to his son, Wu
Jianchuan (or Jianquan). Wu Jianchuan popularized his variation of
the Yang style, which is commonly refered to as the Wu Jianchuan
(or Jianquan) style. In recent times (this century) there have been
many other variations and modificationsof the Art, but all may be
traced back through the above masters to the original Chen family form.

Description:

Complete Taijiquan arts include basic exercises, stance keeping
(Zhanzhuang), repetitive single movement training, linked form
training, power training (exercises which train the ability to issue
energy in a ballistic pulse), weapons training (which includes
straight sword, broadsword, staff and spear), and various two-person
exercises and drills (including "push-hands" sensitivity drills). A
hallmark of most styles of Taijiquan is that the movements in
the forms are done quite slowly, with one posture flowing into the
next without interruption. Some forms (the old Chen forms for example)
alternate between slow motion and explosive movements. Other styles
divide the training into forms which are done slowly at an even tempo
and separate forms which are performed at a more vigorous pace. The
goal of moving slowly is to insure correct attention is paid to proper
body mechanics and the maintenance of the prerequisite relaxation.

Training:

Training exercises can be divided into two broad categories: solo
exercises, and drills which require a partner. A beginner will usually
begin training with very basic exercises designed to teach proper
structural alignment and correct methods of moving the body, shifting
the weight, stepping, etc. All of the Taijiquan arts have at
their very foundation the necessity of complete physical relaxation
and the idea that the intent leads and controls the motion of the
body. The student will also be taught various stance keeping postures
which serve as basic exercises in alignment and relaxation as well as
a kind of mind calming standing meditation. A basic tenet of all
"internal" martial arts is that correct motion is born of absolute
stillness. Once the basics are understood, the student will progress
to learning the formal patterns of movement ("forms") which contain
the specific movement patterns and techniques inherent in the style.

Traditionally, single patterns of movement were learned and repeated
over and over until mastered, only then was the next pattern taught.
Once the student had mastered an entire sequence of movements
individually, the movements were taught in a linked sequence (a
"form"). The goal of training is to cultivate a kind of "whole body"
power. This refers to the ability to generate power with the entire
body, making full use of one's whole body mass in every movement.
Power is always generated from "the bottom up," meaning the powerful
muscles of the legs and hips serve as the seat of power. Using the
strength of the relatively weaker arms and upper body is not
emphasized. The entire body is held in a state of dynamic relaxation
which allows the power of the whole body to flow out of the hands and
into the opponent without obstruction.

The Taijiquan arts have a variety of two person drills and
exercises designed to cultivate a high degree of sensitivity in the
practitioner. Using brute force or opposing anothers power with power
directly is strictly discouraged. The goal of two person training is
to develop sensitivty to the point that one may avoid the opponent's
power and apply one's own whole body power wher the opponent is most
vulnerable. One must cultivate the ability to "stick" to the opponent,
smothering the others' power and destroying their balance. Finally,
the formal combat techniques must be trained until they become a
reflexive reaction.

Modified forms of Taijiquan for health have become popular
worldwide in recent times because the benefits of training have been
found to be very conducive to calming the mind, relaxing the body,
relieving stress, and improving one's health in general.

Modern vs. Traditional training methods

Traditionally, a beginning student of Taijiquan was first required
to practice stance keeping in a few basic postures. After the basic
body alignments had settled in, the student would progress to
performing single movements from the form. These were performed
repetitively on a line. After a sufficient degree of mastery had been
obtained in the single movements, the student was taught to link the
movements together in the familiar long form. Now, it is not uncommon
for a student to be taught the long form immediately, with no time
being spent on stance keeping or on basic movement exercises. Since
the Long Form trains all of the qualities developed in the basic
exercises, this does not really produce a dilution of resulting
martial art. It does however make it more difficult for beginner to
learn. The duration of the basic training depends on the student and
the instructor; however, it would not be unusual for a relatively
talented student, with good instruction, to be able to defend
themselves effectively with Taiji after as little as a year of
training.

Sub-Styles:

Chen Wangding's original form of Chen style Taijiquan is often
refered to as the "Old Frame" (Laojia) and its second form as
"Cannon Fist" (Paochui). In the latter part of the 18th century, a
fifth generation decendant of Chen Wangding, Chen Youben simplified
the original forms into sets which have come to be known as the "New
Style" (Xinjia). Chen Youben's nephew, Chen Jingbing, created a
variation of the New Style which is known as the "Small Frame" (Xiaojia)
or "Zhaobao" form. All of these styles have survived to the present.

The Yang style of Taijiquan is a variation of the original Chen
style. The forms which were passed down from the Yang style founder,
Yang Luzhan have undergone many modifications since his time. Yang
Luzhan's sons were very proficient martial artists and each, in turn,
modified their father's art. The most commonly seen variation of the
form found today comes from the version taught by Yang Luzhan's
grandson, Yang Zhengfu. It was Yang Zhengfu who first popularized
his family's Art and taught it openly. Yang Zhengfu's form is
characterizes by open and extended postures. Most of the modern
variations of the Yang style, as well as the standardized Mainland
Chinese versions of Taijiquan are based on his variation of the
Yang form.
 
OP
Bob Hubbard

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(cont)
Yang Luzhan's student, Wu Yuxiang combined Yang's form with the
Zhaobao form which he learned from Chen Jingping to create the Wu
style. This style features higher stances and compact, circular
movements. His nephew's student, Hao Weizhen was a famous
practitioner of the style, so the style is sometimes refered to as the
Hao Style. Hao Weizhen taught his style to Sun Ludang, who combined
his knowledge of Xingyiquan and Baguazhang to create his own

Yang Luzhan had another student named Zhuan You (or Juan You),
who in turn taught the style to his son Wu Jianchuan (or Jianquan).
This modification of the Yang style is usually refered to as the
Wu Jianchuan (or Jianquan) style. This form's movements are smaller
and the stance is higher than the popular Yang style.

In summary, the major styles of traditional Taijiquan are the
Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu Jianchuan (or Jianquan) and Sun. All other "styles"
are variations of the above.

Non-martial Taiji variants.

There are modified forms of Taiji which are devoted mostly to health
enhancement and relaxation. The movements retain the flavor of
Taijiquan, but are often simplified.
 
H

happyguy

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Excuse me , but I've got to know where you guys are getting this information. The information is an article that my instructor wrote and published some time ago. Is it asking too much for an acknowledgement of the individual that put the information together ? For instance , thanks to the individual responsible for making this info available .I know for a fact that he doesn't mind the article being used , but , I think he would appreciate a bit of recognition . As one of his students , I'd appreciate a small show of gratitute for my instructor and friend .
 

Cthulhu

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If you would read the beginning of the post in question, it CLEARLY states that the information was from the RMA FAQ, and lists contributors. If you still have a problem with this, then perhaps you should be contacting the persons listed rather than shooting off on the forum without carefully reading first.

Cthulhu
 
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Bob Hubbard

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I did a straight "cut-n-paste" of the information from the rec.martial-arts FAQ. No editing of information, etc was done. If the information is plagarized from another source, I have no control over it. You can contact the individuals mentioned in the article thru their emails, or contact the current maintainer of the RMA FAQ.

Latest version is usually posted to USENET at least 1x a month. A slightly out of date version is available at http://wnymartialarts.com

:asian:
 

arnisador

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Originally posted by Kaith Rustaz
Non-martial Taiji variants.

There are modified forms of Taiji which are devoted mostly to health
enhancement and relaxation. The movements retain the flavor of
Taijiquan, but are often simplified.

This is what I study--sometimes called the Peking (not Beijing) form--though I'd prefer a more martial variant if one were being taught locally. My instructor is Chinese and competed in China, so authenticity is not an issue, but we don't do push hands for example (just the 24 and 88 step forms, the 13 and 42 step sword formds, and women only do a fan form). She brought in a friend once who did the 24 step form and the 42 step sword form in a clearly more martial manner, which I found interesting.

It's a different form of balance--a different challenge.
 
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spdmn

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I learned a 108 steps form long time ago but since then I havent been able to find any reference. I have found a lot of information on 24, 42 and even 88 steps.

Can someone point me to some place I can get a book or a tape with 108 steps please.
 

Dronak

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It would help to know what style of tai chi you're looking for, spdmn. I've heard the number of techniques in the longer forms can vary depending on how they are grouped and counted. E.g., repeats may not be counted as separate forms. In that case, to tell if the form is the one you want, you look at the order of the techniques because even if the counting is different, the techniques will still be in the same order. That being said, if you want the Yang style form, you might try _Taijiquan, Classical Yang Style_ by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, published by the Yang Martial Arts Association. It covers a few major topics, but it looks like nearly half the book is devoted to describing the traditional Yang style form and taiji qigong. I haven't actually been taught any tai chi, so I'm not sure how good this book is, but I have it and liked the information included in it. I hope this helps.
 
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spdmn

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Thank you very much for the info.

I remember the form I learned was Yang's style Tai Chi.

Tai Chi is amazing, I remember we were practicing in the Winter time, after I completed the form one time very slowly, my entire body was warm.
 

arnisador

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I'd be interested to see mantis style Tai Chi sometime. Some versions seem to clearly be modern creations--I wonder if there is a "classical" mantis style Tai Chi.
 
C

Chiduce

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Originally posted by arnisador
I'd be interested to see mantis style Tai Chi sometime. Some versions seem to clearly be modern creations--I wonder if there is a "classical" mantis style Tai Chi.
There is also Lo He Ba Fa, if it is spelled right. This combines Tai Chi Ch'uan, Baguazhang, And Xingyiquan! Also, Qi Gong is external and Internal as well; the fighting jin patterns can be used as a martial combative style! Sincerely, In Humility; Chiduce!
 

arnisador

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Originally posted by Chiduce
There is also Lo He Ba Fa, if it is spelled right. This combines Tai Chi Ch'uan, Baguazhang, And Xingyiquan!

I hadn't heard of this but I've thought before that something along these general lines would be a good idea. Is this a modern creation?
 
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Chiduce

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Originally posted by arnisador


I hadn't heard of this but I've thought before that something along these general lines would be a good idea. Is this a modern creation?
Chen Tuan or Chen Po-Chen Hsi I (879-989) was a Taoist whom lived on Mount Hua during the later Choi and Sung Dynasty (960-1280) A.D. , and is credited as the creator of the kung fu system of Liu He Ba Fa or Six Harmonies Eight Method Boxing. Chen Hsi I means "seasoned boxer rare among men" in which the emperor Sung Tai Tzuu during the sung dynasty gave him this title. Chen Hsi I is also in Taoist succession in the "Yin Hsien Pai" or "Sect Of The Hidden Immortals" whom passed down Lao Tzu Taoism through time and taught on Wu Tang Mountain. Chen Hsi I is said to have been the teacher of Huo Lung, who was the teacher of Chang San Feng, the founder of Tai Chi. There is a statue of Master Chen Hsi I at the Jade Source Monastery ("Yu Chan Yuian") at the Foot Of Mount Hua. Master Chen continued his studies of the Yi Jing/ I Ching/ Book Of Changes" and passed the Gong Fu System of Liu He Ba Fa to many many students. The modern interpretation of Master Chen's Six Harmonies Eight Method Boxing was passed to ( which were his I Ching analogies) Master Lee Tung Fung. Master Lee is credited to passing on the Liu He Ba Fa intrepretations to the Masters of this modern day! Namely, Master Wu Yik Fan - Wi I-Hui(1887-1961). Sincerely, In Humility; Chiduce!
 

arnisador

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Fascinating! I love learning the history of these things. The stories of how the arts passed down through the ages is like studying a royal dynasty.
 
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Sanxiawuyi

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Arnisador , sorry for just jumping in this and picking a small, but I think important issue, but you said the form you study--sometimes called the Peking (not Beijing).

Well, as I speak, and am studying Mandarin Chinese, my fianc矇e being born raised educated in Beijing, I can tell you Peking and Beijing are the same!

And, I also study Taijiquan, both Chen and Yang systems, as well as Baguazhang.

Peking, Beijing, etc..
Kung fu, Gung fu, Gong fu, etc..
Chi Kung, Ki Gong, Qigong, etc..
Bagua, Pa Kua Chang, etc..
Tai Chi Chuan, Taijiquan, etc..
Xingyi, Hsing-I, Hsing yi, etc..

The first translators of Mandarin Chinese to the romanized system created a system of translating the ideograms and sounds into what is called the Wade-Giles romanization system. This system gives us "Peking," "Tao", "kung fu", and all the apostrophes (T'ai Ch'i Ch'uan, Pa k'ua, K'ung fu, etc.)

P is pronounced B
K is pronounced G
T is pronounced D
Etc..

The pinyin romanization system, adopted by the People's Republic of China in 1958, has in the meantime become the standard for the world, including recognition by the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the United Nations. The Pinyin system was created to closer represent the sound of Mandarin Chinese. It gives us the "q's", "zh's" and "x's" and caused the changes we have all seen in such words as:

Beijing replacing "Peking,"
Gong or gong fu replacing "kung fu"
Bagua Zhang replacing "Pa kua Chang"
Taijiquan replacing "Tai Chi Ch'uan"
Xing-yi replacing "Hsing-i"

So, if you are pronouncing --- Ba Gua Zhang literally as "P"a "K"ua "C"hang, Beijing as "P"ei"K"ing, or Gong fu as "K"ung "f"u --- it's not that "your wrong", it's more of a mistake of misinformation. It is just as confusing for Mandarin Chinese people who come to the west and don't understand why Westerners pronounce Beijing Duck "Peking Duck" or Dao as "Tao".


:asian:

The Kenpo Exchange
 

arnisador

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Originally posted by Sanxiawuyi
Arnisador , sorry for just jumping in this and picking a small, but I think important issue, but you said the form you study--sometimes called the Peking (not Beijing).[/URL]

My understanding is that, like the use of Peking in Peking duck, this is something that has resisted change--that people still call it Peking form rather than updating it to Beijing form; taht it is its own idiom now. I didn't mean to say that one shouldn't use Beijing as a rule and I certainly do do that. Perhaps someone will correct me--what is the proper way to refer to the Chinese national style of Tai Chi in (American) English?

I knew about the Wade-Giles and pinyin systems and some of the letter correspondences you give below but as I posted elsewhere I don't know what the apostrophe signifies.

Also is there an issue as in Japanese of a k changing to a g when it is preceded by a word? I know that "kung fu" isn't actually a term used by the Chinese (unless our usage of it has penetrated over there) but would it always be pronounced gung fu or would it be kung fu if used alone (not in a sentence)?
 
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Sanxiawuyi

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Well, in response to your questions, my fianc矇e was raised and educated in Beijing, China, and has worked in foreign economics and trade law, so I can give you her opinion, as well as our friends from mainland China. I speak some Mandarin, but am still learning.

The Wade-Giles system is resisting change, but it is definitely changing, especially with more university educated people from Northern regions of China moving to the west, who use pinyin, not to mention the United Nations and the International Standards Organization.

The proper and traditional way of pronouncing Chinese national style is Beijing short form Taijiquan. This is how my fianc矇e learned it in university, in Beijing. Furthermore, it is, nor ever have been, pronounced Tai Chi Chuan, it sounds like Tai Ji Quan.

And, yes the American way of using Kung fu has penetrated China, but is laughed at. It is pronounced Gong fu (not gung fu), and is used to describe any hard work or skill. A surgeon could have good gong fu. It is used describe martial arts as well.
On its own, or in a sentence, it is always gong fu. The letter u is not used. As in dragon, it is Long, not lung. But you have to use the proper tone when pronouncing these words!

Sanxiawuyi

:asian:
 

Dronak

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Originally posted by Sanxiawuyi
But you have to use the proper tone when pronouncing these words!

That's one of the problems I have with trying to copy my instructor's use of Chinese words. I'm aware that there are different tones used (constant, rising, dropping, or a short drop then rise) but it's rather hard for me to tell which one is being used sometimes. I suppose it's something you just pick up after hearing it often enough.
 
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Chiduce

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Originally posted by Sanxiawuyi
Well, in response to your questions, my fianc矇e was raised and educated in Beijing, China, and has worked in foreign economics and trade law, so I can give you her opinion, as well as our friends from mainland China. I speak some Mandarin, but am still learning.

The Wade-Giles system is resisting change, but it is definitely changing, especially with more university educated people from Northern regions of China moving to the west, who use pinyin, not to mention the United Nations and the International Standards Organization.

The proper and traditional way of pronouncing Chinese national style is Beijing short form Taijiquan. This is how my fianc矇e learned it in university, in Beijing. Furthermore, it is, nor ever have been, pronounced Tai Chi Chuan, it sounds like Tai Ji Quan.

And, yes the American way of using Kung fu has penetrated China, but is laughed at. It is pronounced Gong fu (not gung fu), and is used to describe any hard work or skill. A surgeon could have good gong fu. It is used describe martial arts as well.
On its own, or in a sentence, it is always gong fu. The letter u is not used. As in dragon, it is Long, not lung. But you have to use the proper tone when pronouncing these words!

Sanxiawuyi

:asian:
I have not had the chance to completely research my Bubishi Text yet, but from what i have covered i missed seeing Dr. Durbin's name also! I could be wrong, yet I'am sure that his name was mentioned as a small contributor. This may have been on Kyoshi McCarthy's website! It is good to have another Martial Historian; whom can can some clarity on numerous martial issues of typical concern and those of great martial hisorical significance! I'am tending to walk along the path's of yourself and others. It is your insight sir, others, (as well as those before us) into the martial way which has led to my idesire to continue this martial journey of knowledge of self! Sincerely, In Humility; Chiduce!
 
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Sanxiawuyi

Guest
Dronak: That's one of the problems I have with trying to copy my instructor's use of Chinese words. I'm aware that there are different tones used

Every syllable in Chinese has its own tone. Putonghua (Mandarin) has four distinct tones plus a neutral tone. This means that syllables, which are pronounced the same but have different tones, will mean different things. For example, tang pronounced in the first tone means soup, second tone can mean sugar or tang dynasty.

1st tone ___ = level

2nd tone / = rising

3rd tone V = falling & rising

4th tone \ = falling

There is a way to put the correct tone marks over the words, but I dont know how to do it on my pc. Its Alt + number keys.

Most people in the west who think they are listening to Chinese are actually listening to Cantonese, a very harsh language. Chinese Mandarin on the other hand is very soft and a pleasure to listen too (Crouching tiger Hidden Dragon).

:asian:
 

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