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T'ai Chi Introduction
 
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T 'ai Chi Ch'uan (Giles-Wade), taijiquan (pinyin), 太极拳 can be directly translated as : Grand ultimate fist (ch'i that expresses itself when balance and harmony are achieved).

Taijiquan is an ancient and distinctive Chinese form of exercise for health and combat, and it is designed to condition the body according to the principles of taiji.

The concept of taiji first appears in the ancient philosophical text the Book of Changes (I Ching). Taiji, in Chinese philosophy, describes the eternal source and union of the two primary aspects of the cosmos, yang (active) and yin (passive). This union forms the basis of all reality. The Neo-Confucian philosophers of the Sung dynasty (960-1279) further expanded the idea by associating taiji with li ("principle"), the supreme rational principle of the universe-the originating principle. Li engenders ch'i ("vital matter"), which is transformed through the yang and yin modes of development into the Five Elements (wood, earth, fire, metal, and water), which are the primary constituents of the physical universe. Through those metaphors, taijiquan practitioners seek to use movement to direct the yang and yin forces, as a means of cultivating ch'i.
   

The physical exercise employs flowing, rhythmic, deliberate movements, with carefully prescribed stances and positions. Depending on the school and master, the number of prescribed exercise forms will vary from 24 to 108 or more. The forms are named for the image they evoke when they are executed, such as "White cranes spreads its wings" and "Repulse the monkey." All techniques start from one of three stances: weight forward, weight on rear foot, and weight distributed equally in the horse stance, or oblique stance. In practice, each movement is subject to interpretation; thus no two masters teach the system exactly the same way. As a mode of attack and defence, however, taijiquan applies a single philosophy: overcoming hard attack with soft defence, and soft defence with hard attack.

   

 

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Last update: 12/13/2003