The Taiji (Tai Chi) solo form is a vehicle for the study of…
…inner balance (Jess, high school student)
…conscious movement, and conscientious stillness. It offers endless avenues on which to pursue these, yet at its heart its real treasure is the time it grants to cultivate mindfulness; to abandon “study” and embrace being-in-the-moment. (Rachel, massage therapist and goatherd)
…health, such as I have it and for all of the potential for it, for however much time I have left to play in. That’s where I’m parking my being. When my form is better, my balance is better. When my balance is better, my form is better. When I “get” that, and all of the rest, I’m better in oh, so many ways. (Laurie, lab technician)
…how my body functions in space with just the right amount of movement, never too much, never too little. (Erica, office manager)
…coming home (Ruth, grants administrator)
…MYSELF (Michelle, health care administrator)
Taiji is the Grand Ultimate
Taijiquan (also Tai Chi or Taiji) is comprised of the Chinese words: “Taiji” referring to the yin-yang symbol that represents what has been translated as the “supreme ultimate” or “grand ultimate”; the great polarity of complementary opposites whose interplay describes and creates the whole world, and “Quan” meaning “fist” or “boxing.” So, Taijiquan is a martial art based on the yin-yang theory of the cosmos. So learning the long slow-moving solo form is just the beginning, for truly the form is a vehicle for the study of the grand ultimate!
History and Styles
Legend has it that Taiijiquan originated hundreds of years ago when the Taoist immortal Zhang Sanfeng (Chang Seng Feng) observed a crane attacking a snake on Wudang Mountain and developed the art based on the stillness in motion exhibited by the snake. Written records tracing the art’s history take us to an origin in the mid-16th Century China. Today, the most popular versions of the art are based on the families that created them and popularized them in the late 19th through 20th centuries. These are Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu (Hao), Sun, and more recently some would say an additional style is the Cheng Man Ching version of Yang Style.
I practice and teach Yang’s style Taijiquan full traditional curriculum. Yang’s style is the most popular and widely-practiced style in the world today. My focus is on core principles – breath, alignment, proper use of the hips and legs – and the thirteen powers/postures at the heart of all taiji. These thirteen powers are are associated with the five phases of change and the eight basic I Ching trigrams. Many people practice taiji for its meditative qualities; moving slowly and mindfully, developing coordination and grace over time. Some practice to explore its martial aspects, and others are drawn to the art because of its tremendous healing capabilities. I do not prioritize one aspect over any other in my practice or teaching. The greatest benefits come from studying the whole art.
Links to More Taiji Information
There are a number of great articles about tai chi all over the web – the history, the practice, and more. My teacher Sam has written a few articles that are available on his website: Articles by Sam Masich . And I’ve included some of the books I like here. You can find more on the Books for the Journey page of this website.