IS T'AI CHI CH'UAN?
TAI CHI CH'UAN
What is T'ai Chi Ch'uan?
T'ai Chi Ch'uan is one of the most highly regarded systems of self-defense in China. The history of this martial art dates back about a thousand years to the Song Dynasty. It was developed by a Taoist monk, Chang San-fung, who taught meditation and was also a master of hard style martial art. However, Chang San-fung, was not satisfied with the hard style which he was teaching to his disciples. The inspiration for a new system came to him while watching a battle between a crane and a snake. Chang was impressed by the snake's flexibility which enabled it to elude the bird's attacks, Chang then recalled Lao Tzu's philosophy, "the soft can overcome the hard." He realized then that he had just witnessed a demonstration of this philosophy in the battle between the bird and the snake. Chang created a new system of self-defense based on this philosophy. The result was T’ai Chi Ch’uan.
For centuries, people have found the martial art, T’ai Chi Ch’uan, to also be a healthy, adaptive and entertaining activity. Pronounced TIE JEE CHWAHN, this slow motion exercise simultaneously develops both mental and physical skills. Practiced by people at all levels of fitness, it is enjoyed by those with disabilities and the elderly, as well as professional and amateur athletes.
T’ai Chi Ch’uan principles of movement can be applied to any human activity. T’ai Chi Ch’uan body mechanics decrease the likelihood of injury and improve the efficiency of activities such as:
Appreciation of brain-body training is growing rapidly in Europe and the United States. And T'ai Chi Ch'uan, a truly universal exercise, is becoming the technique of choice for more and more Westerners concerned with fitness and performance.
"Westerners, viewing T'ai Chi Ch'uan for the first time (the word ch'uan means fist), are often unable to understand how the slow, ballet-like movements can be used for self-defense. Compared to many of the so-called hard systems of self-defense, T'ai Chi Ch'uan is certainly less spectacular in appearance, but appearances, as everyone knows, are deceiving. And T'ai Chi Ch'uan, in the hands of an expert, is more than sufficient for the handling of any self-defense situation. By learning to relax the entire body, the T'ai Chi Ch'uan fighter develops a flexibility that enables him to punch or kick with tremendous speed. In addition, by practicing "push-hands" (T’ui-shou), he develops a kind of muscular sensitivity which makes it possible for him to predict and anticipate his opponent's attack."
excerpted from William C.C. Chen's Tai Chi Chuan, 1973 edition