Taijiquan is an ancient Chinese system of health, martial arts, and mental conditioning. Taiji was created in China during the Sung Wei era (c.1101 AD) by a Daoist immortal known as Chang San-Feng. It is a time-tested art which gently exercises the body, the energy flow, and the mind, and, can be used for health, longevity, mental freshness, and spiritual development. Taijiquan aims at well-being, including the attainment of grace and balance, the promotion of physical and emotional health, and the development of energy flow. Though there are many varieties of Taijiquan today, all have a common philosophy of relaxation of the mind and body so the body’s natural energy can flow.
The word taiji is an ancient Daoist philosophical term symbolizing the interaction of yin and yang, which are opposite manifestations of the same forces in nature. The dynamic interaction of yin and yang, underlying the relation and changing nature of all things, is epitomized in the famous “Taiji Diagram.”
Taiji is often translated as “grand extreme” (as opposed to wuji, which means “no extreme”), and quan means “fist” or “boxing”. Thus “grand extreme boxing”, or Taijiquan, is a pugilistic art rooted in the Daoist concepts of the interplay and necessary balance of yin and yang.
Many people believe that Taiji Quan is not a martial art at all, but just an exercise for relaxation or health. Actually, Taiji Quan is a particular style of Chinese Kung Fu, and is often referred to as an internal or soft style of martial arts. In reality, while it does emphasize internal development, Taiji Quan, like all styles of Chinese martial arts, contains both internal and external, hard and soft components.
T’ai chi ch’uan training involves five elements, taolu (solo hand and weapons routines/forms),neigong & qigong (breathing, movement and awareness exercises and meditation), tuishou (response drills) and sanshou (self defence techniques). While t’ai chi ch’uan is typified by some for its slow movements, many t’ai chi styles (including the three most popular – Yang, Wu, and Chen) – have secondary forms with faster pace.