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Authenticity is concerned with being able to prove that something is genuine, real, bona fide, of undisputed origin.

Research could save you time & money

A would-be student should take the time to learn a little more about taijiquan before attending a class. Do a little research. The time spent will be worthwhile.
You do not want to waste years of your life learning something useless...

What makes taijiquan 'taijiquan'?

Slow motion movement, chilled out exercise or dance cannot be considered taijiquan. Taijiquan is more than this. It adheres to certain parameters, guidelines and rules of practice.

Is shibashi 'tai chi'?

No. Shibashi is a form of qigong, often erroneously to referred to as tai chi. Shibashi does not conform to The Taijiquan Classics.

Tai chi or taijiquan?

What is the difference between taijiquan and tai chi for health? Taijiquan is a style of fighting. Tai chi for health is a non-martial health exercise adapted from taijiquan.

Taijiquan is an art where all the principles of other martial arts have been turned upside down.
They practice fast, we practice slow.
They practice hard, we practice soft.

(Cheng Man Ching)

The real deal

Although many classes claim to be teaching taijiquan, very few are. In order for the art to qualify as taijiquan, it must adhere to the essence of the art:

  1. Move your body in accord with The Taijiquan Classics 

  2. Train all 13 areas of study

  3. Follow Yang's 10 Essentials

  4. Maintain medically-sound body use

  5. Functionally apply the art in a skilful 'taijiquan' way

  6. Employ the taijiquan principles at all times

  7. Embody the teachings of Taoism

  8. 13 methods should be made manifest at all times

  9. Every movement is a whole-body movement

Providing these criteria are met, you have an immense degree of freedom for personal expression and individual interpretation.

The teacher

Every taijiquan teacher possesses an in-depth grasp of the art. They know all about taijiquan, Taoism, The Taijiquan Classics, neigong, jing, principles, martial applications, adult learning and The Art of War.
An instructor can readily interweave lessons from Taoism, taijiquan, life and cognition in an insightful, thought-provoking way.


The extent of a teacher's knowledge should be evident in their comprehensive syllabus and their scheme of work. Ask to see this before stepping foot in the training hall.

The way most people do taijiquan, it's not a martial art. They could never use it the way they're doing it. Everything's in their hands, they just fill in the rest with fantasy talk.

(Paul Gale)


If you want to find the origin of taijiquan, begin with the ancient Chinese study of existence known as 'Taoism'.

What is Taoism?

Taoism is not a religion in the formal sense. It is concerned with the observation of life, of nature and then the literal application of insights gleaned through seeing and contemplating what took place.

There are 3 main books to read:

  1. The Way and Its Power

  2. The Way of Chuang Tzu

  3. The Book of Changes

It is well worth exploring a variety of interpretations and translations in order to discover which one makes the most sense to you.

Embodied spirituality

Instead of talking, praying or thinking, Taoists do. They act. They put their wisdom into practice. Taijiquan is a physical embodiment of Taoist insights.

Taoist principle

The Chinese symbol called 'tai chi' or the 'supreme ultimate' contains yin and yang. Yin is black and yang is white. Tai chi combines yin and yang to produce a process of dynamic balancing.
The art of taijiquan employs this Taoist principle at all times.

Taijiquan fighting method

The wisdom of famous taijiquan masters came to be known as The Taijiquan Classics. These are the most widely read:

  1. Chang treatise

  2. Wang treatise

  3. Wu treatise 

  4. Yang Cheng Fu's 10 Essentials

These documents provide a detailed outline of what taijiquan is and how it should be employed. Correct practice of taijiquan must follow the guidelines precisely.

The highest level of taijiquan practice is high stance and small circle. In high stance and small circle you can conserve your energy to a maximum level. This is very crucial in battle. Endurance has always been the crucial key to survival in a long battle. Moreover, due to high stance and smaller shape you can reach to the deepest relaxed stage, the mind is highly concentrated, and the sensitivity and alertness can be extremely sharp.

(Yang Jwing-Ming)


The 'quan' in taijiquan is all about combat. When you remove the fighting skills, strategies and tactics, the art is no longer complete.

Worth buying

The Essence of Tai Chi Chuan - The Literary Tradition by Lo et al
Tai Chi Secrets of the Ancient Masters by Yang Jwing-Ming


Page created 21 May 1996
Last updated 24 March 2022