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An Introduction to Taiji

Taiji Quan (Shadow Boxing) originated from the late Ming Dynasty of China (about 400 years ago). Chen Wangting, a villager of Chenjiagou village, created a new kind of Chinese boxing based on the integration of the ancestral boxing, the essence of the excellent folk boxing types and the Chinese medicine meridians, so it is called “Taiji Quan (Shadow Boxing)”.

Taijiquan is an ancient and distinctive Chinese form of exercise for health and combat, and it is designed to condition the body according to the principles of taiji. Taiji (Tai Chi) is one kind of centuries-old Chinese martial arts that descends from qigong, an ancient Chinese discipline that has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. According to some records, Taiji (Tai Chi) dates back as far as 350 years. It involves a series of ancient Chinese culture and valuable knowledge.

Taijiquan is considered as the pinnacle of traditional Chinese Martial Arts, and also widely accepted as an ideal exercise for overall physical fitness. It is crowned as the crystallization of wisdom of Traditional Chinese Culture. Along with its physical attributes and benefits, Taijiquan has an underlying philosophical foundation that embodies the essence of Daoism, “discarding all desires and worries from one's mind”, the “doctrine of mean” from Confucianism, and “unselfishness and tolerance” from Buddhism.

In addition, Taijiquan also incorporates Traditional Chinese Medicine principles (i.e. the way to cure diseases by making all the parts of our body as a whole and balanced) such as Jingluo (Meridian-collateral) theory, and Neidan (Inner Alchemy) and theory of Yin Yang (i.e. the two opposing parts which are contained by all the substance in the nature.), life cultivation methods from Taoism, and Battle field strategies and martial art techniques to develop itself into a unique taiji culture and the most representative internal martial art. So Taiji Quan (Shadow Boxing) is called as “the Quintessence of the Chinese Culture”.

The concept of taiji first appears in the ancient philosophical text the Book of Changes (I Ching). The spirit inside the book talks about the rule of changes in the world. Taiji, in Chinese philosophy, describes the eternal source and union of the two primary aspects of the cosmos, yang (active) and yin (passive). This union forms the basis of all reality. The Neo-Confucian philosophers of the Sung dynasty (960-1279) further expanded the idea by associating taiji with li ("principle"), the supreme rational principle of the universe-the originating principle. Li engenders ch'i ("vital matter"), which is transformed through the yang and yin modes of development into the Five Elements (wood, earth, fire, metal, and water), which are the primary constituents of the physical universe.

Through those metaphors, taijiquan practitioners seek to use movement to direct the yang and yin forces, as a means of cultivating ch'i.  The physical exercise employs flowing, rhythmic, deliberate movements, with carefully prescribed stances and positions. Depending on the school and master, the number of prescribed exercise forms will vary from 24 to 108 or more. The forms are named for the image they evoke when they are executed, such as "a White crane spreads its wings" and "Repulse the monkey." All techniques start from one of three stances: weight forward, weight on rear foot, and weight distributed equally in the horse stance, or oblique stance. In practice, each movement is subject to interpretation; thus no two masters teach the system exactly the same way.

As a mode of attack and defense, however, taijiquan applies a single philosophy: overcoming hard attack with soft defense, and soft defense with hard attack. Chen-style Taiji Quan is an ancient traditional Chinese Kung Fu. It's also the origin of all kinds of Taiji style. It falls into two categories - the old and new frames. The old frame was created by Chen Wangting himself. It had five routines which were also known as the 13-move boxing. Chen Wangting also developed a long-style boxing routine of 108 moves and a cannon boxing routine. It was then handed down to Chen Changxing and Chen Youben, boxers in the Chenjia Valley who were all proficient at the old frame. The present-day Chen style boxing boasts of the old routine, the cannon routine and the new routine. The Chen style taiji boxing is the oldest form, all the other styles of taiji quan having derived from it either directly or indirectly. Other styles of taiji quan include Yang style taiji quan, Wu style taiji quan, Wu Yuxiang style taiji quan, and Sun style taiji

Taiji Quan (Shadow Boxing) is also popular among the foreign countries. There are Taiji Quan (Shadow Boxing) activities in Europe, America, Southeast Asian, Japan, and etc. Many countries have established societies such as Taiji Quan (Shadow Boxing) Association to carry on communication activities with China. As a unique Chinese sport, Taiji Quan (Shadow Boxing) has aroused interest and love of many foreign friends.

As a unique form of Chinese traditional culture, Taiji Quan embodies the properties and wisdom of the Chinese culture. The outstanding culture of five thousand years has given birth to the emergence and development of Taiji Quan, and Taiji Quan is a soul connecting the ancient and modern spirit of Chinese culture. It contains the essence of human wisdom, reflects the same sense of natural human needs, and shows Chinese culture enrichment. It is truly a Jewel of Traditional Chinese Culture.    

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