Tai Chi (Taijiquan)
Taijiquan, or commonly known as Tai Chi, is an internal / soft martial art very well known for its health benefits and defensive techniques. Once used in China as the martial art that the emperor's body guards would have mastered, this powerful art has been modified over time to increase its health benefits. Its movements are mostly done slow as if swimming in water or the air. The gentle movement feels much like a moving meditation as it integrates body, mind, and spirit into harmony. There are however fast forms which empasize the martial origins of this beautiful and sophisticated art.
There are many health benefits to Tai Chi including blood circulation; reduces tension, stress, and anxiety; improved balance; increased flexibility; and increased muscle strength. Over time Tai Chi can improve just about anyone's health regardless of age and condition.
Tai Chi is also known as a spiritual martial art as it combines Daoist Philosophy and martial arts movement together. Daoist Philosophy utilizes the principles of Emptiness, Yin and Yang, 5 elements, and the expression of the 8 fundamental forces of nature known in the I-Jing (Book of Changes). With continual practice and mastery of the principles of Taijiquan, one would be able to enter the boundless state of the universe and feel it's infinite non-dual potential within; returning you back to the Wuji State of mind. This is how the founder of Taijiquan, Zhang San Feng, was said to have become an 'Immortal', the Taoist equivalent to a 'Buddha'.
Styles of Tai Chi We Teach
While Scott has studied many styles of Taijiquan over 30 years including the Simplified 24, 48, Old Yang 36, New Yang 108, Chen Pan Ling 99, and Taoist Primordial Taijiquan 36, he tends to go back to his Taoist origins and focuses on the Primordial Taijiquan of the Zhang family which was said to be the ancestor form of the modern styles taught at Wudang Mountain and Chen Village. The Second one is the Chen Pan Ling Authentic 99 form which he feels contains the spirit of its creators.
The Primordial Tai Chi consists of 36 movements or concepts which were passed down for ages within the Zhang family all the way to Zhang San Feng, the founder of Wudang Taijiquan. It is not practiced in the same manner as modern Tai Chi forms which have a very specific sequence and is practiced the same each time, but introduces spontaneity as well as fast and slow methods. Primordial Tai Chi's most frequently used movement is the "Primordial Taiji Moving Mudra" which emulates the swirling energies of the Pre-Heaven Taiji Diagram and is said to be the core movement of Tai Chi.
Zhang San Feng, the inheritor of the Primordial Tai Chi 36 methods (as transmitted from Lu Dongbin, the Fire Dragon Immortal), was said to have taught this form only to Zhang family members and not to all the Wudang Monks who were taught the "Public" Tai Chi methods. Contained within the Primordial Tai Chi 36 methods is the famous Taijiquan 13 Methods which are the fundamental forces of Taijiquan (Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Cai, Lie, Zhou, and Kao) and are connected with the 8 gua in the I Ching. (This makes up only one method within the Primordial Tai Chi 36 methods.) The Taijiquan 13 methods are performed in a loose manner and helps you develop all the fundamental forces of Tai Chi. The rest of the Primordial Tai Chi 36 methods involve anywhere from kicking methods that are found in Chen Tai Chi to a very special Thunder and Lightning method closely connected with Shamanism. There is also Push Hands methods which are partner exercises designed to get you to learn how to relax, yield, and maintain rooting. By mastering the Taijiquan 13 methods and the Primordial 36 Methods, you will be able to understand any modern Tai Chi form practiced today.
The Authentic 99 Tai Chi Form developed by Chen Pan Ling by contrast to Primordial Tai Chi consists of 99 Movements. The form predominately uses methods from the pre-1950's Yang Family Tai Chi as a base and takes anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to perform. Chen Pan Ling was a famous Chinese martial artist who moved to Taiwan in order to avoid persecution. While in Taiwan he became famous and developed this combined 99 movement Tai Chi form with the help of other Grandmasters from Yang, Wu, Wu Hao, and Chen styles. The form was most notably practiced by Wang Shu Jin and pays respect to Tai Chi as practiced in the early 1900's.