Tai chi chuan (simplified Chinese: 太极拳; traditional Chinese: 太極拳; pinyin: tàijíquán; Wade-Giles: t'ai4 chi2 ch'üan2) 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.

 1.  Training in Ottawa
 2.  Styles
 3.  Inspiration

Tai Chi Training in Ottawa

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 defense, however, taijiquan applies a single philosophy: overcoming hard attack with soft defense, and soft defense with hard attack.

At the Ottawa Chinese Martial Arts Association, we start with the standard 24 Yang form. This is a simple and concise form that serves as an introduction to the Yang style. Intermediate students will then learn the combined 42 form. This form was created to introduce the practitioner to the major Tai chi styles. For the advance students, an introduction to Chen Style Taiji is suggested.  



There are five major styles of tai chi chuan, each named after the Chinese family from which it originated:

  • Chen style (陳氏) of Chen Wangting (1580–1660)
  • Yang style (楊氏) of Yang Lu-ch'an (1799-1872)
  • Wu or Wu/Hao style (武氏) of Wu Yu-hsiang (1812-1880)
  • Wu style (吳氏) of Wu Ch'uan-yu (1834–1902) and his son Wu Chien-ch'uan (1870-1942)
  • Sun style (孫氏) of Sun Lu-t'ang (1861–1932)
The order of verifiable date of origin is as listed above. The order of popularity (in terms of number of practitioners) is Yang, Wu, Chen, Sun, and Wu/Hao. The five major family styles share much underlying theory, but differ in their approaches to training. As part of the Martial Arts training, it is important to understand the difference in approaches and why those differences occurred.



Here are images of Tai Chi practice to provide the students with an idea of Tai Chi practice.