History of Tai Chi

History of Tai Chi

Summary: The Chen style of Tai Chi was the forerunners of the art, but it was the Yang style that made it in the limelight.

The true history of Tai Chi was never known. The fact that the art is as old as the Chinese heritage itself has the history of Tai Chi shrouded in legend and mystery.

Birth of the Yin and Yang

The wise sage Chang San Feng had a dream one night. In his dream he saw two creatures battling, a crane and a snake. He was so enthralled by the sight for the combatants had fought with so much skill, yet neither one could gain the upper hand. He had this dream every night that he managed to learn the techniques and made the famous 13 postures of Tai Chi. The creatures were then symbolized as the teardrops of the Yin and Yang, symbolizing the infiniteness of the opposite powers.

Chang San Feng’s martial art technique was subsequently named Tai Chi Chuan. The insight of this new radical martial art expresses these principles: use calm against action, soft against hard, slow against fast, and single against group. These principles opposed the current teachings of the era and thus attracted a considerable crowd.

The Chen Style

In later parts of the history of Tai Chi, a monk named Wang Chung-Yueh mastered the 13 postures and linked them into a continuous sequence, forming what resembled today the contemporary forms of Tai Chi Chuan. Chiang Fa, Wang Chung-Yueh’s student, later passed this knowledge to ChenYou-Heng, who further developed the technique into a new frame style, and was called the Chen Tai Chi. Chiang Fa has 3 students, Chen You-Heng, Chen Chang-Hsing, and Chen Yao-Pun, all of which started their corresponding schools of discipline.

The Yang Style

Chen Chang-Hsing combined the Chiang Fa’s Tai Chi with the Cannon Pounding form. He then taught Yang Lu Chan who, in turn, started the Yang style of Tai Chi. Yang Lu-Chan became very famous and skilled and was later known as ‘Yang the Unsurpassed’ or ‘Yang the Invincible’. The Yang style of Tai Chi spawned a long lineage of skilled and distinguished martial artists like the 19th century master Yang Cheng Fu, Lu Chan’s grandson, who was responsible for bringing Tai Chi to the rest of the world and has contributed much to the history of Tai Chi. The Yang style is the most common traditional Tai Chi practiced today, boasting the most complete Tai Chi, having the simplified form, the short form and the long form.

The Wu Style

Wu Quan-Yu, a student of both Yang Lu-Chan and Yang Pan-Hou taught Wu Quan-Yu. He became an adept to the art, and took on students, including his sons. This passed his style and later branched away as an independent style of Tai Chi known as the Wu style.