Taijiquan is a martial art that originated in modern China. The German translation for this type of martial art is shadow boxing. Due to the positive effects that Taijiquan has on health and personal development, this martial art enjoys a constantly increasing number of followers and is considered a popular sport in China, which keeps fit.

Here you can find out how this martial art came into being and what its background is.

The most important in 30 seconds:

  • Tai Chi Chuan focuses on armed and unarmed close combat.
  • Tai Chi Chuan can be divided into six different styles.
  • Tai Chi involves numerous different movements called forms.

The origin of Taijiquan

The origin story of Taijiquan leads to the 13th century of a Shaolin temple. A Taoist monk named Zhang Sanfeng initiated this martial art. However, the first historical record of Taijiquan, which is now also spelled Tai Chi Chuan, dates back to the 17th century. Chen Wangting developed the Chen style. The motivated student named Yang Luchan (1795 – 1872) used this variation as the basis for the creation of today’s Tai Chi Chuan style.

Different Styles & Basic Rules

Tai Chi Chuan falls into the category of internal martial arts and focuses on armed and unarmed close combat alike. It functions as a kind of movement teaching, which has a positive effect on human health and personality development. In addition, Tai Chi Chuan includes meditation exercises that strengthen the body and mind. In this context, the martial arts aspect fades a little and moves into the background.


The 10 basic rules

Furthermore, Tai Chi Chuan contains ten important basic rules. These go back to Yang Chengfu and focus on the desired physical and mental posture of the trainees.

  1. Relaxed erection of the head
  2. Stretch the back straight, but hold back the chest muscles
  3. Relaxing and loosening the small of the back and the waist
  4. Correctly shift the body weight, separating the empty and the fullness
  5. Shoulders and elbows hang loosely
  6. A focus on the Yi, which symbolizes intention or purpose, while the Li, which stands for force and muscular strength, is disregarded
  7. A good coordination ability from top to bottom
  8. A balanced harmony between inside and outside
  9. Flowing movements that resemble an uninterrupted river
  10. Remaining calm while practicing the movements

The 6 styles

Among the other characteristics of Tai Chi Chuan are the six different styles. They are divided into:

  • Chen style
  • Yang style
  • Wu-Hao style
  • Wu style
  • Sun style
  • He style

The different styles contain modifications. In addition in the following still another few backgrounds for the distinction of the styles:

Chen styleThe Chen style is the origin of the other forms. Due to its fast movements and jumps, it functions as a sporty Tai Chi variant. Chen Wanting was the founder of this variant (1597 – 1664).
Sun styleThe Sun style goes back to Sun Lu Tang (1860 – 1932). He combined elements of three schools and created in this way a new style, which he named after himself.
Wu styleThe Wu style, on the other hand, is known for its fast and agile movements. Its founders were Wu Yuxiang (1812 – 1880) and Wu Jianquan (1870 – 1942).
Yang styleThis style is less common than the popular Yang style, which stands for soft and smooth movements. Furthermore, the Yang variant does not contain fast movements or jumps. Therefore, this style is suitable for anyone who wants to practice Tai Chi, as it does not require any special physical conditions.
Hao styleHao Weizheng (1849 – 1920) developed the Hao style, who was a student of Wu Yuxiang. His style contains 200 forms and has the advantage over the other Tai Chi variants that a single practice is sufficient to achieve the desired form, whereas in the other Tai Chi forms numerous repetitions are required.

Varied exercise units in training

Taijiquan contains basic exercises that are an integral part of the training. The principles of movement are composed of single movements as well as standing and breathing exercises. In addition, standing meditation is also part of the practice exercises, which strengthen the body and mind in equal measure. Furthermore, the exercises aim to improve posture and thus counteract possible joint stress. Techniques from Qigong are applied.

In the center of the training are several forms, which are sequences of movements. The trainees fight against an imaginary opponent, which is why they perform the techniques individually.

However, there are also partner exercises, in which lever techniques are also used. In these, the practitioners also practice a fight in which they aim to maintain their stance while defeating the opponent. This type of exercise enjoys its existence in competitions.

Tai Chi Chuan includes weapon forms, but they are suitable only for advanced students. Beginners train without weapons. Those who, because of their experience, have permission to train with weapons, use:

  • the double-edged Chinese sword called Jian
  • the long stick called gun
  • the Dao, which is known as the Chinese sword
  • a fan, whose name is Shan
  • the Dagun, a three meter long stick
  • the spear, which is also known as Qiang
  • the Chinese guan glefe
Tai Chi Chuan: Die Entstehung des Schattenboxen
Tai Chi Chuan: the origin of shadow boxing

Spellings of Taijiquan

Different spellings circulate both in theory and in practice, but they all have the same meaning. Among the numerous variations are:

  • Tai Chi (Chuan)
  • Taiji (Quan)
  • T’ai Chi
  • Tài Jí
  • Thai Chi
  • Taichi
  • T’ai Chi Ch’uan
  • Tàijíquán
  • T’ai-chi-ch’üan

Since the Chinese language has different language variants and spellings, there are also different spelling variants with regard to Tai Chi Chuan, which are, however, pronounced in the same way. In 1958, the pinyin transcription was introduced, which has been one of the standard scripts since 1982. According to this spelling, the correct description is Taijiquan, but in Germany the vaiante Tai Chi Chuan or simply Tai Chi is more common.

Update: 2023-01-20 / Affiliate Links / Bilder von der Amazon Product Advertising API