Learn a brief history of health-improving gymnastics, what Taijiquan techniques are and how to use them correctly for the best results. The name of this Chinese martial art can be translated into Russian as "Fist of the Great Limit". Today, health-improving gymnastics and martial art of Taijiquan is one of the most popular wushu styles around the world. Of course, this is especially true of the Celestial Empire, where in the morning you can see many people practicing Taijiquan. According to official statistics, in China alone, this style of wushu is practiced by about 200 million people.
The history of the creation of Taijiquan
There are many legends about the creation of health-improving gymnastics and the martial art of Taijiquan. So, according to one of them, Zhang Sanfeng, a wandering Taoist monk who lived in the fifteenth century, became the founder of this style. According to another popular legend, this man was an alchemist (he lived in the twelfth century), and Zhang Sanfeng dreamed of the wushu style he created later.
The third legend says that Taijiquan was created by the magician and mystic Sue Xuanping, and this happened in the seventh century. A large number of legends around Taijiquan are associated with the high popularity of the style and not only at home. Many legends say that Taijiquan was transmitted to people by the inhabitants of heaven, and this happened between the eighth and seventeenth centuries.
It is quite obvious that historians around the world have also shown interest in the history of the emergence of this style of wushu. They believe that health gymnastics and the martial art of Taijiquan was created by Chen Wangting, who lived in the seventeenth century in Henan province. This man was a great military leader, but after the fall of the Ming dynasty, he became interested in Taoism and retired. In his spare time, he improved his martial art and at the same time created a new style of wushu.
Taijiquan: what is it?
Health-improving gymnastics and martial art of Taijiquan is a complex of multifunctional exercises that help strengthen the joints, have a positive effect on the spinal column and the nervous system. All movements are performed at a slow pace and are combined with deep breathing with full concentration.
One of the main factors that has made Taijiquan popular all over the world is the ability of this style of wushu to clear the mind and relax the body. The proliferation of firearms also affected the popularization of this direction of Chinese martial arts. With its appearance, wushu in general and taijiquan in particular have become less relevant from the point of view of self-defense. As a result, Taijiquan masters began to share the secrets of their art with the general public.
The third factor was the huge health-improving effect of gymnastics on the entire body. As a result, it was the fascination with the health-improving part of Taijiquan that caused the lack of desire to delve into the depths of the philosophy of this martial art. Of course, in order to master the theoretical and practical aspects of Taijiquan well, you need to spend a lot of time and effort. However, only in this case it can be understood that this is not only health-improving gymnastics, but also a highly effective martial art.
The movements performed at a slow pace have a meditative effect, bringing a feeling of joy and satisfaction. It should be noted that this style of wushu not only looks smooth on the outside, but also on the inside.The practitioner is able, over time, to feel the qi energy circulating in his body and attain a state of meditation. It is believed in China that proper Qi circulation promotes health and leads to enlightenment.
We have already said that for many people practicing Taijiquan today, this is simple health exercises. However, the presence of the prefix "quan" in the name, which translates as a fist, also speaks of the combat component of this style. Chinese style masters say that the martial use of style is his soul. Scientists have proven that Taijiquan is very beneficial for health, the essence of the style is the fighting component.
If you delve into every movement of the complex, it immediately becomes clear. Each exercise has a combat application and includes several techniques. If martial elements are excluded from the style, then it will no longer be real Taijiquan. A distinctive feature of this style of wushu is the soft neutralization of enemy attacks and a tough response. As a result, it can be argued that health-improving gymnastics and martial art of Taijiquan harmoniously combines the inner (martial) content with the vernal (movement) form.
Features of Taijiquan technique
Among the main features of the style are soft rolling steps with continuous smooth movement of the hands. Thanks to soft steps during a fight, it is easy to maintain balance, and pushing movements with your hands allow you to anticipate the opponent's actions over time. Note that a similar technique of hand movement takes place in another Wushu style - Wing Chun.
In addition to the ability to predict the opponent's movements, the "pushing hands" technique is capable of constraining the opponent's actions. If he is used to only striking blows, then he will not be able to oppose anything to such a viscous defense. Note that similar techniques can be found in two karate schools. Smoothness and continuity of movements can be developed by slow execution of all movements.
It also helps in practicing the correct movements. As a result, during the fight, you can develop high speed precisely due to the perfection of all movements. We have already noted that health-improving gymnastics and martial art of Taijiquan is multifaceted and allows you to combine hard and soft techniques during a fight.
Since the Yang style gained the most popularity all over the world, preaching primarily a soft technique, there was a misconception about the absence of a martial component in all Taijiquan. In other styles of the style, which are not derived from Chen, the emphasis is on rigid technique.
There are now five main styles of Taijiquan based on Chen.
Chen Family Taijiquan
This style is the main martial art of the Chen family, which is subdivided into old and new. The old style was created by Chen Wangting and consists of five taolu complexes. For almost three hundred years, it has been improved and modified. As a result, only two complexes have come down to us.
The first one includes 83 forms and mainly contains soft movements. To correctly perform this complex, you must have a certain physical fitness, since you have to spend a lot of energy during the lesson. This taolu combines gentle movements with sharp movements performed at different speeds. There are also jumps, spins and energy surges.
The second complex is called pao-chui, which can be translated as "cannon strike". It contains 71 shapes, most of which are rigid. A feature of this style is a large number of kicks, and the movements are faster and sharper in comparison with the first taolu. The complex also contains a large number of jump kicks, dodges and lightning-fast turns with movement.Note also the fact that Taijiquan Chen involves training in fighting skills with various types of weapons.
Yang Family Taijiquan
The founder of the style is the master Yang Luchan, who lived in Hebei province. His family was poor, and Yang himself worked for the Chen family, where he mastered Taijiquan. In adulthood, the master returned to his home province and continued to practice Taijiquan. In doing so, he made some changes, adding softness and increasing strength with determination.
He decided to simplify many of the complex elements of the basic style, such as the leaping leg ulars. The work of simplifying the style of the Chen family was continued by his son Yang Jianhou. It is due to its ease of learning that the style of Taijiquan Yang is most popular. Anyone can master it, even without having a sufficient level of physical fitness.
It should be noted that in the Yang style there are three types of "form" (the way of performing movements) - small, large and medium. In addition, there are three types of racks: high, low, medium. Yang Chenfu, the grandson of the founder of this style, always said that any stands can be used, but the form must be wide, relaxed and open.
Taijiquan Wu Yuxiang
The founder of this trend is considered to be the master Wu Yuxiang, who lived in the Hebei province at the end of the Qing dynasty. Wu Yuxiang's first mentor was Yang Luchan himself. After that, Wu Yuxiang also learned the skill of the old Chen school. Making changes in all these directions, the master strove to comprehend their philosophy and unite them. As a result, a new style of Taijiquan was born. Among its features, it is fashionable to note a strict step, smooth movements, tightly clenched fists. When performing movements, chi energy is concentrated in the abdomen.
Taijiquan Wu Jianquan
It was created by the wushu master Quan Yu from Manchuria during the decline of the Qing dynasty. After being trained by Yang Luchang and his son, Quan Yu became a true master of the soft Taijiquan movement. After the changes he made, the movements became smoother, and most of the jumps and various tricks were eliminated.
Sun Family Taijiquan
The founder of this style is Sun Luciana. This man was a passionate wushu admirer. Having studied several styles, he subsequently combined them and created his own. Sun's style is characterized by forward and backward shuttle movements, as well as calmness and flexibility. The complexes can be compared to clouds slowly floating in the sky or a continuous stream of water.
Friends of the master called his style kai-he hobu, which means "quick steps of twisting and unwinding." Sun's technique included dodging, moving and jumping (borrowed from Bagua-jan), as well as going down, ups, falls and coups (taken from Xing-i-Chuan).
These are only the main directions of health-improving gymnastics and martial art of Taijiquan. There are several others that simply did not become as popular as the ones we have described. It is also necessary to remember the existence of Taoist styles, which differ from Taijiquan of the Chen family not only in drawing, but also in the elaboration of all movements. For example, the Thunder Wind School may be separate from Chen's Taijiquan. It originated and developed in Taoist communities.
The eight basic movements of Taijiquan in the following video: