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Tai Chi Chuan history and styles

The word Tai Chi first appeared in Book of Changes of the Zhou Dynasty. The essay says: "Where there is Tai Chi, there is peace and harmony between the positive and the negative." Tai Chi means supremacy, absoluteness, extremity and uniqueness. Tai Chi Quan takes its name for the implication of superiority. Tai Chi Quan got its name when Shanxi secular Wushu master Wang Zongyue used the philosophy of the positive and negative from the Book of Changes to explain the principles of the Chuan.

There are different opinions on the origin of Tai Chi Quan. Some think it was created by Zhang Sanfeng of the Song Dynasty (961-1279) while others believe it was created by Han Gongyue and Cheng Lingxi in the Liang Dynasty (502-557). Still others say that it was created by either Xu Xuanping or Li Daozi of the Tang Dynasty(618-907)Yet all propositions cannot be proved from authenticate historical records. According to the research of Wushu historian Tang Hao, Tai Chi Quan was first exercised and practised among the Chen family members at the Chenjia Valley which is located in Wenxian County in Henan Province. The earliest choreographer of the Tai Chi Chuan was Chen Wangling who was both a scholar and a martial artist. Chen combined his knowledge of ancient psychological exercises; the positive and negative philosophy describe in the Book of Ch-anges and Chinese medical theory of passages and channels of blood, air flow and energy inside the human body with the exercises and practices of Wushu. He absorbed the strong points from various schools and styles of martial arts of the Ming Dynasty, especially the 32-move Qi Jiguang style of Chuan (long-style Chuan), to form the school of Tai Chi Quan.

After years of dissemination, many styles of Tai Chi Quan were created. The most popular and wide-spread are the following five styles:Chen-style Tai Chi Quan, Yang-style Tai Chi Quan, Wu-style Tai Chi Quan, Wu Yuxiang Style Tai Chi Quan, Sun-style Tai Chi Quan.

Although different in style and form, all Tai Chi Chuan routines require their practitioners to be tranquil, calm, relaxed but concentrative. In Tai Chi Quan the spine is the pivot around which the body moves. Forces and energy should be generated from the spine and waist before reaching the arms and legs. The movements are executed slowly, continuously and softly, but hardness is implied in softness. Substantialness should be distinguished from insubstantialness. Practitioners are required to breathe regularly and smoothly. The inner strengths and energy should be exuded through external movements and actions.

The theory of Tai Chi Quan was developed when Wang Zongyue wrote his On Tai Chi Quan. Tai Chi Quan theories matured with later writings of the Thirteen-form Frame, Thirteen Postures, Secrets of Thirteen Stances, The Essentials of Martial Artists, Martial Artists' Ballad, Tai Chi Combats and Five-Word Essentials.

As mentioned earlier, the Tai Chi Quan has health enhancing and disease curing functions. This is largely due to its effect on brain function. Practising Tai Chi enables part of the cerebral cortex to enter a protective inhibition so that partial rest is possible while other parts are excited. As a result brain function can im protracted exercises and practices of Tai Chi Quan. Various chronic diseases resulting from the malfunction of the nerve system can thus be cured or ameliorated.

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