An internal Chinese Martial Art that is characterised by slow and graceful movements. Taijiquan is a Martial Art that is practiced as a form of self-defence as well as for its mental and physical health benefits. Taijiquan has been described as “meditation in motion”, helping its practitioners reach higher meditative states and increased longevity.
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Not much is known about the origins of Taijiquan and thus there are many legendary accounts of where the Martial Art has its roots including its founder Zhang Shanfeng. Zhang Shanfeng was a famous Taoist priest who was said to have immense internal power and abilities and is credited to have created the system of Taijiquan.
However, there is well documented evidence that Taijiquan surfaced in the 16th Century and was taught by Chen Wangting who was drawn to the teachings of Taoism after he had retired from the army.
- Taolu – solo practice of Taijiquan forms where the practitioner executes a form through a natural range of motion over their centre of gravity. This practice encourages circulation, improves posture, and maintains the integrity of joints.
- Neigong – referring to internal skill, is a set of breathing exercises performed in conjunction with a variety of body movements. The aim is to cultivate internal energy and is used to improve health, awareness, meditation, and generation of power.
- Tuishou – Pushing hands is a form of partnered practice which improves sensitivity to an opponent’s movements. The practitioner can apply the most suitable defensive patterns in response to an opponent’s attack. The aim of this type of training is to immediately destabilise the opponent by disrupting their centre of gravity upon immediate contact. These methods involve open hand pushes or strikes to the legs and often below the opponent’s hips. Advanced Taijiquan practitioners often apply defensive strikes to vulnerable parts of the body including acupressure points
- Chin na – joint locks and breaks also feature during Taijiquan sparring
- Shi San Shi - Thirteen Postures – refers to the 13 basic attributes for advanced study. This is comprised of 8 basic hand positions used in combination with 5 basic stances. These 13 postures form the main essence and fundamental structures of Taijiquan and are the basis from which all other Taijiquan skills emanate
- Chen (Oldest Style)
- Yang (based on Chen)
- Wu (based on Yang)
- Wu-Hao (based on Chen and Yang)
- Sun (based on Yang)
- Wu-Xing-Qui (5 elements style – based on Wu and Yang)
Taijiquan strikes can be executed in a variety of ways with the goal of affecting the opponent in a specific way depending on the striking method applied. A strike could merely push the opponent back or it could serve to lift the opponent of the ground. Internal damage can be dealt by terminating the force of the strike within the opponent’s body.
Qigong and Qi – the cultivation and use of internal life force or energy through purposeful and coordinated breathing. Breathing occurs deeply into the lower belly filling the Dantian. Generating a continuous flow of qi through the body by unlocking energy pathways and channels to generate devasting power without the use of muscle alone.
Movements originate from the centre. From a relaxed position, movements are guided from the centre to control the direction and distribution of energy.
The mind leads the body. The practitioner focuses the mind to direct the body’s movements.
- Jian – straight double-edged sword
- Dao – Chinese broad sword
- Tieshan – folding fan
- Gun – 2m long wooden staffed
- Qiang – 2m long spear
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