Chinese Martial Arts – Taijiquan
Article by Troy Macraft
A martial art and health regime with an underlying Daoist philosophy, taiji (often written as tai chi) is practiced by millions of people in China and around the world. It is characterized by slow, fluid, and graceful movements, which conform to the Daoist notion of naturalism.
In China the art is seen as a way of restoring health or curing illness, as well as a form of socializing, particularly for older people.
Although the exact origins of this martial art are not clear it is a widely held belief that the original 13 postures of taiji were invented by the Daoist Master Chang San Feng, who resided at the famous Wudang Mountain, a center for the study and practice of Daoist arts. It is said that the master took refuge at Wudang while being pursued by bandits and, in a dream one night, learned the method of taiji. Putting it into practice, he was able to defeat hundreds of attackers.
Designed to develop and strengthen mind, body, and spirit, the art of shorinji kempo is based on the belief that everyone has the potential to develop in every direction. Inspired by a variety of martial arts, it includes both hard and soft techniques, offensive and defensive grappling, striking, kicking, and throwing.
A pattern of movements known as “hokei” is practiced during free fighting. The goal is to bring order to chaos?chaos being the attacker’s inability to control his or her mind, leading to an act of aggression, and order being the defender’s ability to bring about a peaceful conclusion through the application of nonlethal self-defense techniques.
This style of Okinawan karate generally includes 14 “kata” or set forms; eight of which are performed empty handed, two with the “sai” (three-pronged weapon), three with the “bo” (staff), and one with the “tonfa” (baton).
What we can be more certain of is that Chen Wang Ting, a successful warrior and a garrison commander in the 1640s, choreographed much of what we recognize as taiji today.
His original chen-style taijiquan forms the basis of the art’s most popular form.
Over the last few centuries different styles have emerged and although they follow Daoist principles there are some striking differences in the forms, most notably the removal of quick, powerful, thrusting, and twisting actions that are found in the original chen style.
More recent styles of the art employ a higher stance and focus less on fighting, joint locking, and throwing, and emphasize the cultivation of health through slow, rhythmical movements that increase the flow of “qi,” or energy, throughout the body. The four major schools are chen, yang, wu, and sun style.
Each school has a number of variants; yang, for example, has a number of subsets that range in terms of complexity; yang 24 step, also known as Beijing style, is the most popular and simple to learn.
Learning the art
Typically, classes emphasize the three main aspects of taiji, which are health, education, and martial art. The stances and the degree of concentration required when exercising movements correctly regulate blood pressure and develops muscular strength, coordination, and balance to a higher degree than when the movements are executed quickly. In addition, each action must be visualized, which enhances strategic thinking.
A major characteristic of this style of martial art is its self-defense aspect. The pupil is taught how to divert and change the direction of opponents’ force, rather than directly opposing the force head-on.
The daily practice of moving the joints slowly in a circular fashion greatly helps their mobility, while the qi-building movements built into the form are relaxing and refreshing.
About the Author
Troy Macraft Chief Editor, The MMA Zone: “the ninja swords experts” http://www.themmazone.net The MMA Zone: The MMA Supplies Experts 1.866.447.8222 firstname.lastname@example.org