‘Master Chang San Feng has a thorough mastery of Taoist methods and unparalleled martial skills’
Hanlin Academy Records 600 years ago.
The art of Tai Chi Chuan has been handed down, through the efforts and dedication of masters ever since it’s creation by Chang San Feng. Being an expert in both martial skills and Taoist methods of self cultivation, Chang combined his knowledge, creating the art now know as Tai Chi Chuan.
The main features of the art of Tai Chi Chuan:
Tai Chi Chuan strengthens the body. Regular practice strengthens the bones, muscles, tendons and sinews of the body. Its practice strengthens the functioning of the circulatory system, both centrally and peripherally, bringing vitality to all cells of the body. The lymphatic system is stimulated through the movement during practice and the deep diaphragmatic breathing used in practice. The nervous system is stimulated, to help improve functioning of all the major organs of the body, as well as improving the strength of the muscular system. Tai Chi Chuan not only prevents disease and illness, but is also an effective treatment for existing illness. Tai Chi Chuan nourishes vitality.
Tai Chi Chuan cultivates natural, effective self defence skills. The methodology of Tai Chi Chuan follows the changes of stillness and motion and the effective use of softness and hardness. The application of Tai Chi Chuan is entirely based on a thorough understanding of the Yin and Yang principles, both physically and psychologically. The Tai Chi Chuan practitioner seeks to overcome hardness with softness and to seek opportunity to apply effective technique at the opponents weakest point. These are subtle and refined martial skills, which require consistent training under an experienced master. We learn to out-wit an opponent rather than out-muscle them.
Tai Chi Chuan is a Taoist practice, which seeks to cultivate not only health and martial skill, but also the character of the practitioner. Fundamentally, in Taoist cultivation the practitioner seeks to develop personal tranquility, calming their Shen (spirit/mind). The second stage is to nurture Qi (energetic vitality). The third stage is to enhance Jing (primordial essence). Beyond this a sense of Unity with Heaven (spirit), Man (society) and Earth (nature) is advocated.
Tai Chi Chuan should be practiced regularly for best results. Training will enable you to refine the subtle skills of the art, learning to sublime levels of skill and ability, where mind and body act as one. Tai Chi Chuan does not contain techniques at higher levels of achievement. Only the principle of Tai Chi is needed once we have transcended the fundamental training stages. Tai Chi Chuan can be learned and practiced by anybody, with profound benefits coming from regular long term practice.
Chang San Feng created five different parts to the art. Each one cultivates specific skills, abilities or qualities within your practice. Some parts of the practice focus more on coordination, movement skill or technique, whilst other parts will wok more on the physical aspects of the body or the mind of the practitioner.
The Tai Chi principle
In the Taoist I Ching: Book of Changes it is said that all change, creation and destruction in the universe and on earth is governed by the Great Polarity (Tai Chi). In turn the Tai Chi gives both to the two qualities, yin and yang. These produce the Four Secondary Trigrams which in turn give birth to the Eight Trigrams.
The state of No Polarity exists before the state of Tai Chi. This is the state of emptiness, before things and thoughts manifest.
Tai Chi is the principle before distinct manifestations of shape, form, sound or movement. It is the potential beyond these tangible qualities.
In the classical literature of Tai chi Chuan it is said ‘ Emerging from No Polarity, Tai Chi is the pivot of movement and stillness, the parent of Yin and Yang. Movement brings separation and stillness converges’.
The state of Tai Chi requires that stillness and motion, opening and closing are distinguished but not separate. Yin and Yang are always present.
The concept of Tai Chi governs the waxing and waning of sun and moon, the changing of the seasons and all the dynamic processes of existence. Heaven and Earth and everything within them are constantly changing, coming and going. The is the essence of the Tai Chi principle.
Tai Chi Chuan is the martial art created by Chang San Feng, who having a thorough understanding of the principles of Tai Chi, fused Taoist health and self cultivation with practical martial arts skills. All elements of the martial art of Tai Chi Chuan are governed by the principle of Tai Chi.
The objective of Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Chuan is an art of self improvement, self defence and a method of improving one’s overall vitality. In olden times the self defence aspects were far more important, particularly in the days when the art was mainly taught to the elite military personnel tasked with protecting the Manchu Royal Family. Although the self defence elements are a crucial part of authentic Tai Chi Chuan training, it’s probably safe to say that in todays world the enemy most people encounter is illness and disease due to a physically sedentary yet psychologically high stress lifestyle. Tai Chi Chuan is the perfect tool to combat this, with many ways of exercising the physical body and ways to achieve tranquility of mind. Practical self defence skills are of course always useful, even in todays relatively safe and civilised society. Increased self confidence and peace of mind are achieved.