I began studying taijichuan in 1996 at the University of California at
Berkeley as an undergraduate student. In 1998, I met my current
teacher Dr. Alex Feng (above) and continue studying with him at Zhi Dao Guan, Dr. Fengs practice studio and acupuncture clinic in Oakland, CA.
Taijichuan is considered one of the three main "internal" Chinese martial arts along with xingyi and baguazhang.
Taijiquan (also Tai
Chi Chuan) translates literally as "Grand Ultimate Fist."
Although there are differing opinions as to the actual origin of
Taijichuan, historical convention maintains that it was first
developed by the Chen family from Chen Village in Henan Province,
China in the mid 17th century. Taijiquan was born out of a
practical need for self-defense. Chen taijiquan proved itself
so effective in combat, that Chen Village gained a reputation for
producing martial artists unparalleled anywhere in China.
In modern times, taijichuan is practiced the world over for both
self-defense and health. Practitioners may choose to
emphasize the health benefits of regular training which
includes stretching the tendons, sharpening physical balance,
strengthening the muscles, improving respiration and circulation and
increasing mental focus. Many people also use
taijiquan as a spiritual practice; a "moving meditation"
which allows them to cultivate mindful attention and connect with
themselves and the world around them.
5 main styles of taijiquan recognized today by the Chinese
government. There are also several specialized sets created for use in martial
art exhibitions and competitions. The main styles are (in order of creation):
Chen Family, Yang Family, Wu (Hao) Family, Wu Quan-yu Family and Sun
Family. Each style has its unique personality and flavor.
All styles conform however to basic taijiquan principles of correct
form, posture and execution of moves. Each style also has
corresponding weapons sets such as, the long staff and short staff,
straight sword, broadsword, spear and even walking cane. The
study of taijiquan is a study of health, self-defense, spirituality
and culture. It is an art with immense breath and depth which
can be cultivated and perfected over a lifetime.