Taiji FAQ - lets get one made!

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by Visage, Apr 19, 2006.

  1. Visage

    Visage Banned Banned

    Hi all,
    As you've probably noticed, theres always the same type of questions from newbies in this forum. Most other forums have an FAQ type thing to help these guys, so we may as well jump on the bandwagon!

    What I reckon we should do is put the usual questions and answers in this thread and try and make a sticky for this place :)

    Try and keep it to questions and answers for the FAQ - constructive answers to help the newbies will be good, trolling/flaming wont be.

    When people are happy, we can put it all together into one post and ask Sandus to stick it.

    To get us started, heres some usuals :)

    Q: I always thought of Tai Chi as an old persons exercise, can it really be a martial art?
    A: Tai Chi (Taiji, Taiji Quan) was originally developed as a martial art. The modern view of it as an exercise for health has arisen from the great benefits Tai Chi training can have on a practitioners health and vitality.

    Q: What is the difference between all of the different styles of Tai Chi?
    A: Wudang Taiji - A popular theory for the development of this style states that towards the end of the Song dynasty (13th century) lived a Taoist priest named Zhang San Feng, who took his Shaolin kungfu training and softened it into a style known as the "Wudang 32-Pattern Long Fist", which later developed into TaijiQuan.
    Chen Taiji - There are two popular theories as to how Chen style Taiji was developed. The first is that Wang Zong Yue's Wudang Kungfu, or Wudang TaijiQuan as it is more commonly known, is the foundation upon which it is based, as Wang Zong Yue stayed in the Chen family settlement for many years and his Treatise on Tai Chi Chuan describes the philosophy and techniques of Tai Chi superbly.
    The second theory is that Chen Wang Ting learnt his art during his time in the army as a legacy from Qi Ji Guang, the 16th century Ming general who repulsed the Japanese naval invasion, because Qi's masterpiece, "The Classic of Kungfu" provides the fundamental principles of Chen style Taiji.
    Some people have also said that Chen Wang Ting might have been influenced directly by Shaolin kungfu, as the Chen family settlement is not far from the Shaolin Monastery in the same province, and virtually all Taiji patterns and principles, with exception of those touching on Taoist philosophy, are also found in Shaolin Kungfu.
    Yang - The Yang style of Taiji was developed by Yang Lu Chan, who learned Chen Taiji from Chen Chang Xin in secret. He later traveled China, issueing friendly challenges to other kungfu masters. He always won, and was given the nickname of "Yang the Invicible".

    Wu, Wu, and Sun:
    (Grateful for any information on these styles, as my knowledge is limited :eek: )

    Feel free to add anything that I have missed out :)

    Lets do something useful for a change, rather than argue.

  2. airweaver

    airweaver Valued Member

    Q- what benefits can be gained from tai chi?
    A -increased mobility,
    a calmer and more confident mind,
    a release of physical and mental tensions,
    insights into oneself and others,
    insight into the nature of tension and its effects on ones mood,
    appreciation of proper breathing and posture,
    deeper fullfilment of physical movement,
    deeper sensitivity to ones environment,
    more confidence in dealing with aggression from others,
    insight into taoist philosophy and the nature of yin/yang,
    insight into the heart of chinese culture,
    greater self control,
    and being able to dance good (like a god if on acid/mushrooms [either will do])

    Q is it easy to learn?
    A relatively easy to learn but next to impossible to master, but even learning the movements and performing them crudely, ignoring most of the principles will improve flexibility and coordination. its an art which 1000 good things can come, but not one thing bad.
  3. joltvolta

    joltvolta New Member

    Q - Where can I find decent videos on the various styles?

    A - Taiji.de
    You can find downloadable videos at the link above.
    There are also tons of other videos on the internet if you search.
    Here are some examples:
    Google Video - Tai Chi
    You Tube - Tai Chi

    -- jolt
  4. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Q. what is jin ?

    It's a 'energy'/method/skill developed through a specific type of movement through or from the body.

    eg. peng - expanding outward, wave type motion/ 'power'

    ahhh soo many words to play with!
    Now go play with yourselves :D
  5. liokault

    liokault Banned Banned

    On Wu:
    www.leeswhiteleopardkungfu.com - styles - taichi

    Though the media often portrays Tai Chi as an ¡®ancient Chinese art,¡¯ it is in reality a profoundly modern martial art, developed during the Chinese martial renaissance of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Put simply, there is nothing ancient about Tai Chi. Its postures, movements, and theories are products of a distinctly modern ethos: economy of movement, efficiency of application, and sophistication within seemingly simple techniques.

    Among Tai Chi styles, the Wu branch is especially modern. Its roots trace to a Manchurian military officer, Chuan You (1832-1902), who learned Tai Chi from the great Tai Chi master Yang Lu Chan in the Royal Army of the Qing Dynasty. Due to federal protocol, Chuan You had to become the disciple of Yang¡¯s second son, Yang Bang Hou, though Chuan You¡¯s de facto teacher was Yang Lu Chan himself.

    Chuan You¡¯s son, Wu Chien Chuan (Îâ ¼ø Ȫ) (1870-1942), is the creator of present day Wu style. Manchus used tribal names prior to the turn of the twentieth century, and the adoption of the Han surname Wu came about following China¡¯s political shift into a republic. Chuan¡¯s tribal name, U Jia Ha La Shi, was truncated to U, which shifted to Wu under Chinese linguistics. Wu¡¯s student Ma Yueh Liang (ÂíÔÀ Áº), also Manchurian, underwent a parallel process by which his tribal name, Ma Jia Shi, became the Han surname Ma.

    Xi Yui Sheng (1879-1945), founder of the Athletic Research Institute of Peking, invited Wu Chien Chuan to teach Tai Chi Chuan to the general public for the first time along with Yang Chen Fu (1883-1936), founder of modern Yang style, and Yang Shao Hon (1879-1945) of the small-frame Yang style. Master Wu later left Peking for Shanghai, and founded the Shanghai Chien Chuan Tai Chi Chuan Association in 1935. The association was inherited by his eldest daughter, Master Wu Yin Hua (1912-1996) and her husband, Master Ma Yueh Liang (1900-1998), who is remembered as one of China¡¯s 100 national treasures. The association has now been inherited by their eldest son, Ma Hui Long. Master Johnny Kwong Ming Lee (Àø ¹â Ã÷), a student of Ma Yueh Liang, is our connection to Wu style Tai Chi Chuan.

    Beijing Wu

    In Beijing, Wu Tai Chi was carried on by Chuan You¡¯s student, Master Wang Maozhui, who handed it down to Master Yang Yuting. Wang Pei Sheng now carries on the line. The Beijing lineage of Wu style places more emphasis on Chinese five element and eight hexagram theory. They focus especially on vital points to move chi in a daily routine. This form of Wu style is distinct from the rest of the style, and is known as Northern Wu.

    Wu Chien Chuan¡¯s early students, Wu Tunan and Chuan Zee Yee, carried on an alternate branch in Beijing, though it is unclear how different this branch was from the Northern Wu.

    Southeast Asian Wu

    Wu Chien Chuan¡¯s sons Wu Kung Yee and Wu Kee Chu developed the style in Hong Kong and southeast Asia. Chan Wing Kwong, a student of Wu Chien Chuan, led another branch in the region. The Hong Kong postures are similar to the Shanghai postures, though the stances are generally smaller and higher, and the body leans and sways to a greater degree while practicing.

    Wu Kung Yee is famous for answering the challenge of a white crane stylist, Master Chen, and defeating him. The match was judged by a panel including Tung Ying Chije, a Yang-style disciple of Yang Chen Fu. The mutual respect between the Wu and Yang branches displayed here was passed on to later generations of practitioners. In 1957, Chan Ten Hung, a nephew of Chan Wing Kwong, won a unanimous decision in an official public match in Taiwan against the current Taiwanese champion, famous for his kicks. In the 1970s, Hong Kong Wu stylists won championships in southeast Asian full contact bouts. One can see that their techniques are more focused on fighting, throws, and body conditioning.

    Shanghai Wu

    Shanghai Wu style focuses more on gentle maneuvering and smooth continuity, subtle manipulation of central equilibrium, and softness in movement. All regional variations, however, show the Wu characteristics of a small external frame counterbalanced by a spacious and strong internal structure, and all utilize the slanted erect position.

    The Shanghai Chien Chuan Tai Chi Society was until the late 1990s led by Master Wu Chien Chuan¡¯s daughter, Wu Ying Hua and her husband, Ma Yueh Liang. Wu Ying Hua passed away in 1996, Ma Yueh Liang in 1998. Their son, Ma Hui Long, now leads the society.

    The Essence of Wu Style

    I have researched the rare 63 photos of Master Wu Chien Chuan¡¯s postures in a book by his second son, Wu Kung Tsai, published in Hong Kong. I have also studied Wu Tai Chi by Wu Ying Hua of Shanghai, Chuan Zee Yee¡¯s book from Beijing entitled Wu¡¯s Tai Chi Book, as well as Wu¡¯s Book of Tai Chi by Wang Pei Sheng of Beijing about the Northern Wu style. Besides small differences in technique, all the texts show the special principles of Wu¡¯s Tai Chi Small Frame performed with elegance. The postures are compact but not crowded. The tempo is slow, even, light, and rounded with the internal feelings of substantial versus insubstantial, and absolute void or receptiveness. Energy is compressed in spiral movements to feel the connection with the gravitational force. All this, along with the correct postures of Master Wu Chien Chuan, is essential to achieve the most important internal force of Wu style Tai Chi. This is the method of heart. It is the central equilibrium
    that is the force of the earth which enables our head to support the Tai Chi, our arms to embrace the eight trigrams and our feet to step on the five elements.

    Externally, the Wu style displays a pronounced straightness in the lower back when compared to other Tai Chi styles. The body inclines slightly to the front. From the head to the back, the leg and the heel form a straight line. Instead of just relaxing and dropping the hips, it is required to bow the lower back or waist to reverse the arch or sway of the lower back. The chest will naturally relax or slightly depress, the hips will tuck forward, and the crotch will lift. This posture allows the chi to sink to the tan tien. The top of the head is lifted, so the chi or energy of the body can flow to keep the body centered and the spine erect.

    Because of its small frame, the Wu style appears different from other styles. To discharge the forces of the press and the push and impart maximum velocity requires an inclined upper body in order to create more distance. The bow of the lower back is kept in place to connect the upper and lower extremities to the ground. For example, the famous Plow Oxen stance appears externally slanted, but internally the crown of the head and the heels are in a straight line. The spine is straight, allowing the chi to flow thoroughly.

    The principles are the same whether practicing forms or push hands. Push hands and Wu style Tai Chi forms, like the two elements of Yin and Yang, are two parts of one whole. Proper application of force requires utilizing the lower extremities and the full weight of the body. Instead of using only the upper extremities to impart the maximum horizontal vectors, vertical movements are reduced to a minimum. This allows the power to generate in the legs and flow easily to the body and hands. The inclined posture of the Wu Plow Oxen stance in the most efficient and anatomically correct posture to do the job. While practicing forms or push hands, it is important to be aware of this special quality. In the Tai Chi Classics, it is called ¡°erect in slanting.¡±

    The Classics define double weighted as incorrectly using rigid, stiff force against oncoming force. To avoid this mistake, one should use rising, yielding force to reverse any oncoming force. It is unavoidable to support the body weight with both feet at certain points in the shifting of stances. The single whip in Wu Tai Chi, for example, is externally a horse stance, which is correct and anatomically normal. The internal force, however, is in motion from one foot to another. Hence, it is incorrect to interpret this horse stance as a double weighted posture.

    The idea that Wu style is specialized from yielding and softly diverting and Yang style for pressing and discharging comes from the students of the two masters, and is a misconception. Yang¡¯s effectiveness in pressing and discharging was apparent to students of Yang Cheng Fu, who weighed close to three-hundred pounds. A slight touch of the master¡¯s press would bounce off a student with great force. Conversely, Master Wu was a very gentle instructor, dispersing the student¡¯s force to avoid hurting the student or his feelings. Each respected the other¡¯s kung fu skills as equals when they demonstrated their prowess at public charity events. The idea that the two forms have different relative strengths was proven false at the first demonstration of the two in Shanghai. Seeking each other¡¯s internal force through asking and answering without giving any slack, they demonstrated push hands¡¯ highest skill. After an engagement of advances and encounters, the two masters
    smiled in recognition of the other¡¯s proficiency. Carried out with serious intent and respect, the match showed each master seeking the other¡¯s flaw without favoritism for pressing or yielding. For there is truly no difference between softly diverting and discharging. Within softness there is hardness, within hardness, softness. This is Tai Chi¡¯s Yin and Yang principle.

    From both external and internal aspects, Wu style is completely in accord with the Tai Chi classics. Traced back to its roots, Wu style shows one hundred years of development. The first generation, Grandmaster Chuan You, incorporated the soft elegance of the big frame Tai Chi from the first generation of the Yang style Grandmaster Yang Lu Chuan with the quick, sudden force of compact small frame Tai Chi from Grandmaster Yang Bang Hou, the second son of Yang Lu Chuan. Chuan You¡¯s son Wu Chien Chuan inherited his father¡¯s creation and developed it into modern Wu style. Indeed, Wu style is the fruit of the passionate effort of the great masters of all the Tai Chi Chuan styles that evolved before it. The rich history and roots of Wu style should merit the recognition of its individuality in the garden of Tai Chi styles.
  6. piratebrido

    piratebrido internet tough guy


    I was just about to post that!
  7. Crashed

    Crashed New Member

    I've got a question: How to tell the difference between real taichi and the hippychineseworkout taichi?
  8. Saz

    Saz Nerd Admin

  9. Kaitain

    Kaitain Valued Member

    How to tell the difference between real taichi and the hippychineseworkout taichi?

    Ask about the school on here or Emptyflower
    Ask the teacher whether they train martial applications to the form.
    Ask the teacher what sort of two man work they do.
    Ask the teacher if he would demonstrate some self defence applications (on one of his students if you're not comfortable getting whacked).

    Make sure you are polite and respectful - no teacher responds well to interrogation. Remember, they have no reason to impress you or 'convince' you of their skills - some just won't bother.
  10. wudangfajing

    wudangfajing Banned Banned

    Why so slow?
    that is how beginner start out than in time those wishing to fight go little faster for applications. The adavanced see that regardless of the speed you can always be faster if relaxed so speed is unimportant to them an they return to slow aperance but in truth they are moving faster than you think.

    Speed as a action can always be nulified just you have to know how.

    Why do some form of Yang look so different than other form of yang?
    This is question to the students of yang.
    I ask why like somtimes single whip looks different to other yang schools.
    Not just single whip but many of the structure are different in appearance from school to school. It is not so much in chen system thou.

    Why are there so many style of Wu taichi?
    I always thought that they came from Yang system.
    Meaning there are thousand of form that are in the wu system that never have i seen them than when i do i think hum different form altogether.
  11. Taijiman

    Taijiman Valued Member

    A general curriculum for taiji quan would look something like this:
    -Single moving postures & combinations
    -Forms (usually a long form, though some schools offer a short form for beginers, and some lineages have fast forms for the more advanced).
    -Stationary then moving push hands (a two person exercise/application "game" to help sensitivity and train some aspects of taiji quan application).
    -Then finally, some sort of hard contact free fighting.
    -Lineage is also important. Though it doesn't tell you exactly how good someone is, it's a good starting point in at least you can tell whether or not someone is teaching what they claim to teach. While legit new styles pop up from time to time, the creator should still be honest about themselves, and usually have a strong martial arts background in something related. Now days there's really no reason to hide your training background. If a skilled teacher is being dishonest, it's still likely you could find someone just as good who's honest about themselves.

    Of course all of this is personal opinion :p

    I think people should put up general descriptions and training progressions, etc. of their own styles in this thread without fear of being "flamed". I'd just rather not see a bunch of random info pulled off the web by non-experienced taiji people set up as a faq.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2007
  12. weiliquan

    weiliquan Valued Member

    i totally agree with this,this is the right view.
    there's nothing wrong with trying to copy yang taiji or chen taiji if that is what you want.

    two things come up here.
    everyone grows differently though experiences they had,these experiences are the very key to which an effective art is based upon for an individual.

    no one can honestly say that we had the exact same experiences as the master before us. so it is understandable the style's change.

    i have discussed this with my master and he says that anyone who trains in taiji who has another art behind it," is just a new expression of taiji."

  13. imperialtaichi

    imperialtaichi Valued Member

    1. Traditional Expanantion: every movement must be driven by Yi, and every part of the body must follow the rules of Yin and Yang. True Yi in the beginning is hard to manipulate, and even harder for the body to move with it so it is next to impossible for a beginner to move fast without breaking the rules.

    2. Modern Explanation: the conscious mind, the subconscious and the body must be unified in every move, with parts of the body simutaneously issueing different directions of forces for simultaneous attack, defense, absorbtion and redirection. If you force yourself to move faster than your mind can handle, you are not getting the best result out of your training.

    Therefore, when doing the form, you are not trying to do it slow; on the contrary, you are trying to do it as quickly as possible without breaking the connections. Which means, in the beginning, "fast as you can" still seems "slow".

  14. Kibbles

    Kibbles The Iron Bucket

    From what I know:

    1) Check the teacher's lower back when they are demonstrating the form. It should be straight and not curved back. Also, the tailbone should be slightly tucked in and the real teachers will bring this up very early on.

    2) Try the form. Just standing in the proper tai chi stance is extremely straining. If you breeze through the form without the least bit of effort, either you are a tai chi prodigy, a qigong expert, or something is wrong. For beginners, the form is often tougher than an aerobics work out. A real teacher would be more concerned about you getting each part of the form right rather than memorizing the whole form.

    3) Ask about actual application of form. This is a bit tricky as some of the really old traditional teachers will actually get mad if you don't unquestioningly do as they say and many others are not too keen on revealing the actual martial applications to a student on the 1st day. Once applications are discussed though, you will find though that tai chi is about as brutally pragmatic a martial art as they come, utilizing headbutts, throat or eye jabs, neck breaks, and whatever moves can be used to end a fight quickly.

    4) See if your teacher is rooted. It will be very hard to push a real tai chi master over.
  15. Osu,

    This is a great thread, thank you to all the posters for the generous information. :)

    I'd like to ask the following question:
    What are the reasons for a student to chose Wudang, Chen, Yang, Wu or Sun particular type of TaiChi (outside of convenience of location and time, of course), all other things being equal?

    Thank you :)
  16. goldenmonkey

    goldenmonkey New Member

    That's an excellent question, but it's one that can easily be applied to any other martial art or fighting art, internal or external. Each style has a distinct difference in it's training requirements. If you look at Chen or Wu style, they have a very obvious external regime that requires a more explosive focus on form, san shou, and tui shou. Conversely, Yang style taiji is a much softer, internal from of taiji that requires a much softer, yielding approach.
    That's not to say each taiji style isn't internal, as each are very distinctly so. Chi cultivation and the eventual outcome of fajing is the ultimate goal for any serious taiji practitioner.

    In my honest opinion, there are much better martial arts styles that provide much more direct self defense application than any of the taiji styles, no matter the applications learned. Until you've reached a decent level of sensitivity through san shou, solo form, and tui shou, taiji is generally useless in it's martial application in the real world. That being said (and here's the kicker), taiji, when brought to a high enough level, is the BEST martial art for the streets, hands down.
    My opinion :)
  17. Robinhood

    Robinhood Banned Banned

    If they can apply application with little effort.

    If they have something, there should be no problem demonstrating on you.

    They is a lot of shadow stuff, that is just exercise, so if you don't see interactive training, you are problem seeing hippy stuff, but just because you see interactive does not mean they are practice the real deal.

  18. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    What is this obvious external regime of Wu system as opposed to Yang?

    Yang system doesn't focus on t'ui shou? Or do you mean not much focus on explosiveness in its t'ui shou? Since when? Read up on Yang,Shou-chung's t'ui shou training for his students. Ever hear of practice with the wall?

    I don't know what "softer approach" means. Like in t'ui shou when Cheng,Man-ch'ing said Yang,Cheng-fu's hand felt like cotton on his jaw-right before Yang threw him out and ko'd him?

    Interesting that you feel Yang is "more internal",whatever you mean by that,and more yielding.Chuan Yuck's specialty was neutralization,so if anything his line (Wu/Ng) puts an even greater emphasis on that aspect. But all the systems operate w/neutralizations and yielding.

    Along with that decent level of sensitivity you mention,one had best also have a decent level of power issuing for functional application.

    Welcome to MAP,btw.Some friendly advice-don't make claims that a particular system is "the best" for the real world or whatever.You'll get called on it,and rightfully so. Don't wanna see a newcomer get flamed.
  19. goldenmonkey

    goldenmonkey New Member

    Whoa brother, perhaps you should think about taking a chill pill. What I feel about Yang style is much different than what I think about Yang style, and that goes for the others as well. It was never my intention to make claims purporting the efficiency of any one style of taiji, nor was it my intention to put any on a higher or lower level than another. I'm well aware of the differences between styles, I'm well aware of the similarities, I'm well aware of "functional application" within taji, or lack thereof.

    I'll accept the fact that I claim that taji is very well one of the BEST martial arts in the world, when performed at it's highest level! I'm very willing to, based on my experience and knowledge, including lack thereof. However, I would advise you (with all due respect) to truly reflect on the cross nature you bring across to the people who walk a path similar to yours. Especially newcomers.
  20. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    Q: What do you mean "Taiji has no legs?"
    A: If you can add "leg seize" into your Peng, "leg spring" into your Lu, "outer hook" into your Ji, and "inner hook" into your An, you will get better combat result.

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