What is Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan)?

Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan – Shadow Boxing) forms one of the three primary disciplines within the Neijia group of martial arts, or Internal Martial Arts. They are Taijiquan, Ba Gua and Hsing I. The concept of Neijiaquan encompasses a person’s internal development. This involves the incorporation of Daoyin, Tu Na and Jingluo theories from Chinese medicine studies. Daoyin and Tu Na (literally, breathing out forcefully) are methods of deep breathing, whilst Jingluo refers to the human body”s meridian lines in Acupuncture.

Taijiquan(Tai Chi Chuan) is a form of martial art. Just like another martial art, its goal is to strike in the fastest possible time with the least possible effort. Now how is that possible? It is so slow, and so soft!! Well, the secret lies in the training method. Chenjiagou (Chen Village) uses a systematic training approach. At the very beginning, the trainee needs to start slow and gentle. It is just like watching your golf swing in slow motion. You can’t analyse your swing if it”s done in fast forward speed. Now in Taijiquan you have to practice slowly so that your body can follow your mind. Let your body feel every movement you execute and connect every inch of your musles, bones, structures etc from fingers to toes i.e. the whole body. You will not be able to feel anything if you tense up your muscles. As every one knows, tensing up will cause you pain and desensitize your ability to feel. 

“暗劲者,拳中之柔劲也(柔劲与软不同:软中无力,柔非无力也” – <拳意述真>--孙禄堂 . By legendary Sun Lu Tang in his “The Truth in Fist Intention”. Translation : “Hidden Energy or force could be found in Gentleness (do not confuse gentleness as soft. In softness, there is no energy nor force)”.  When practicing, one need to be mindfulness, the smoothness and continuity are the keys, applying just enough tension.

Now once the trainee masters this stage, he/she will proceed to the next stage, i.e. to execute fast and powerful strikes. This is exactly how the Chenjiagou school of Taiijiquan(Tai Chi Chuan) trains. It begins with Laojia Yi Lu (Old form 1st set) which emphasizes slow and gentle movements. Next, the trainee then proceeds to Laojia Er Lu (Old form 2nd set) which emphasizes swift and powerful strikes. The keyword here to note is “emphasize”. i.e. in both forms there are both slow and fast, powerful and gentle strikes. This is what is meant by ying and yang, the 2 extremes. In the taiji symbol, both ying and yang are there, which forms taiji. This is unlike other schools of Taijiquan which focuses mainly on slow and gentle practices. (Only exception is in Tong Ying Jie’s school where kuaiquan or fast fist is added to the training methods. Tong Ying Jie was one of the early disciple of Yang Cheng Fu). Of course there is no right or wrong, it is just how much effort or gong fu, is put into it. It is difficult to achieve the 1st stage mentioned above, as it already requires a lot of effort and discipline.

Note: ying and yang also means moving and stationery, left and right, big and small.