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At the dawn of ancient Chinese culture people learned by observing nature. This was called Taoism. Taijiquan combined Taoism, biomechanics and martial insights to create a unique art.
Taijiquan students explore technical skills, martial application, weaponry and unarmed combat. Health, fitness, strength, wellbeing, character development and philosophical study are essential.
There are many taijiquan martial skills in the syllabus, including:
Shuai jiao (take downs)
Chin na (seizing)
Jing (whole-body power)
San sau (fixed sets)
San da (freeform combat)
Taijiquan fighting method
The application of taijiquan always follows the guidelines presented in
The Tai Chi Classics.
Even though many of the fighting skills are common to different styles of martial art, a taijiquan student must perform them in a taijiquan way.
Meaning & purpose
Every taijiquan movement, exercise and drill has a purpose. The student must understand what they are doing, otherwise the training is meaningless and most likely incorrect.
What is the exercise for? How does it operate? We ensure that our students gain a comprehensive grasp of the art.
What does qi have to do with fighting? Absolutely nothing. If you want to talk about qi in the martial arts, I'd say that it doesn't have anything to do with the martial arts. They're talking about intention mostly, and they're calling it qi because it sounds more mysterious.
The benefits of learning taijiquan
Taijiquan is not just about combat. Daily practice offers a wide range of benefits that will affect your everyday life:
• Get fit
• Stay calm
• Feel balanced
• Increased stamina and endurance
• Gain functional combat skills that rely upon intelligence rather than brutality
• Off-set the effects of aging (e.g. sarcopenia)
• The release of deeply-held muscular tension
• Boost energy
• A way to use millennia old Chinese wisdom in everyday life
• Cultivate an unusual form of strength
• Emotional composure in the face of confrontation and crisis
• Philosophical study involving some of the most influential books ever written
• More confidence and resourcefulness
You must get fit
All martial arts require the student to be fit for combat and taijiquan is no exception. There are many lazy tai chi people in the world. This is naive in the extreme.
You don't need to go nuts but you do need to be fit enough to do the training.
A balanced approach
For many people, their fitness regime does not take into account agility, mobility, relaxed spontaneous movement, balance, ambidextrous body use, joint health, coordination, emotional wellbeing or psychological flexibility. Often, injuries arise and bodies are pushed too hard. Taijiquan is not like this. There is very little risk of injury.
Tai chi advocates moderation in all things. If you do not train enough, there will be very little fitness benefit. If you train too much, the body will become tired and there is an increased risk of injury.
The ideal is regular practice using low effort. No sweating. No exertion. No taxing the body. Tai chi exercises both the body and the brain.
Cross-training tai chi
Our taijiquan students train: core strength, massage, leg stretches, cardio work, yoga, qigong, neigong, form, partnered work, martial sets & drills, combat and weapons.
The training is done carefully, gently - in a controlled manner - without exertion or strain. It is intended to improve health and wellbeing through frequent, regular practice using low effort.
Motor learning is about the process of using the body, rather than simply exercising the body. Taijiquan combines exercise with motor learning.
Looking for a challenge?
In taijiquan, the main challenge lies with understanding ancient Chinese principles of combat and body use, and putting these into practice.
Sustained, on-going training and commitment make this art both physically and mentally engaging.
You get out of the art what you put into it. For the earnest student, taijiquan is a lifelong journey: a fascinating adventure of discovery, insight, fitness, longevity and martial power.
There is no concept of an
enemy or opponent in taijiquan.
Likewise, the emotions associated with either - anger, hatred, friendship - also have no use and therefore play no role in this art.
In many martial arts schools the practice was carried out in secrecy and the school's very existence was frequently concealed from the authorities. For example, taijiquan is based on body of principles known to be around 2000 years old yet it was not revealed until 1750.
When a master of taijiquan faces an opponent he brings to the confrontation thousands of years of philosophical, martial and practical thought. He has lived most of his life according to the principles established centuries ago and in the process, he has strengthened his body and probably earned a long and healthy life.
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Page created 11 January 1993
Last updated 24 March 2020