Académie Sino-Canadienne de Kung Fu

Yang style Taijiquan

The creation of Tai Ji Quan is surrounded by various legends that were handed down through time. One of them tells of a Taoist monk of the 12th Century, called Zhang San Feng, who was visited by the Wu Dang Mountain Spirit. The Spirit taught him the martial art techniques that later became known as Tai Ji Quan. Even though the legends are numerous, the most coherent story traces a timeline to its origin in the Wenxian county, in the Henan province. Chen Wangting, of the village of Chen Jiagou, and Jiang Fa, who had studied martial arts in Shanxi and lived in the village of Xiaoliu, took the existing fighting techniques and combined them with breathing exercises and the cultivation of vital energy to develop Tai Chi Chuan.

Master Yim Sheung Mo - Hong Kong

Regardless of whom the real creator was, Tai Ji Quan contains three basic principles:
1. The assimilation of the basics and practice of traditional Wushu forms. The Tai Ji Quan basics comprise of many stances and movements found in other traditional Chinese martial arts of the time.

2. The assimilation of the traditional methods of maintaining health. Tai Ji Quan demonstrates it is one of the latest developments in the gradual process that has spanned centuries: combining wushu with traditional forms of internal exercises, meditation and callisthenic exercises it can improve health and increase longevity. These forms involve relaxation, concentration and respiratory techniques. Many of these elements can be seen in Tai Ji Quan.

3. The assimilation of the classical theories in medicine and philosophy. Tai Ji Quan, using the exercises mentioned above, adopts traditional Chinese medicine theories to promote Qi, or vital energy, the energy that flows throughout the human body to insure the proper functioning of the internal organs. As for the philosophy, Tai Ji Quan is intrinsically tied to Ba Gua and the other Taoist traditions.

Only the styles below are officially recognized as traditional styles of Chinese martial arts. There are other Tai Ji Quan styles, such as the simplified ones (of 24, 48, 66 and 88 movements), that are based on the Yang style, but are not traditional.

Chen Style – This is the original form of Tai Ji Quan, derived from Henan, developed by the Chen family. It only arrived in Beijing in 1928. This style maintains some of the leaps, joint-locks, explosions of energy and strong and gracious movements. With many twists and turns, its practice is difficult and tiresome.

Yang Style – Developed from the Chen style by Yang Luchan. The form existing today was developed by his grandson, Yang Chengfu. It is the most popular style in China and the rest of the world. Its movements are smooth and slow.

Wu Style - Developed in Beijing by Wu Quan You and his son, Wu Jian Quan. It is based on the practice of the Yang style by both. It lost in popularity to the Yang school. The Wu school uses movements that are soft, slow and compact.

Hao Style – Originally developed by Wu Yu Xiang, who studied the Chen family style in Henan. Hao Wei Zhen, one of Wu's disciples, took the style to Beijing. Its main characteristics are the simplicity and clarity of the slow, soft and compact movements, higher bases and restricted walking.

Sun Style – At the end of the Qing dynasty, Sun Lutang studied Xingyi Quan, Bagua Zhang, and, soon after that, Tai Ji Quan, Hao style, and in this way he developed his own style. The movements are fast and light, using methods of opening and closing hands. A defining characteristic of the Sun style is the rapid base movement.