Cultural Heritage
Published: Aug 07, 2022 06:46 PM
Taijiquan practicers train in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province. Photo: IC

Taijiquan practitioner train in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province. Photo: IC

Taijiquan - From self defense to self cultivation

Taijiquan, also known as Tai Chi, is a kind of traditional Chinese martial art. It focuses on the Chinese philosophical concepts of Yin and Yang, the five elements and traditional Chinese medicine, aiming to strengthen the body, cultivate the mind and combat attackers.

It is said that Taijiquan was created in the mid-17th century in Chenjiagou village, Jiaozuo city, Central China's Henan Province. 

The different schools of Taijiquan are as follows. 

The Chen-style Taijiquan was created by Chen Youben (1780-1858). Fourteenth-generation Taijiquan inheritor Chen Changxing (1771-1853) streamlined the traditional style of the martial art by getting rid of some difficult moves to make the new school. It features an upright body, all-round support and defense using the inner and outer body parts. When encountering strong attacks, the practitioner bursts out force like a ready bow and conquers the enemy instantly.   

The Yang-style Taijiquan was created by Yang Luchan (1799-1872), one of the disciples of Chen Changxing, in North China's Hebei Province. It features soft and slow moves that are easier to grasp. 

The Wu-style Taijiquan was created by Wu Yuxiang (1825-93), an eighth- generation Chen-style Taijiquan inheritor, in Yongnian, Hebei Province. In 1833, Wu combined the Chen and Yang styles and created a new style of Taijiquan with swift, firm and compact moves. 

The Wu-style Taijiquan - in Chinese this Wu is different from the Wu after which Wu Yuxiang's school is named - was created by Quan You (1834-1902), who was the disciple of Master Yang Banhou. Noted for its gentle moves, this Wu-style features natural, dense and moderate movements based on the Yang-style. 

The Sun-style Taijiquan was invented by Sun Lutang (1860-1933) in Shunping county, Hebei Province. In 1918, Sun created a set of swift, flexible and gentle martial arts based on the essential skills of different masters. 

The He-style Taijiquan was invented by He Zhaoyuan (1810-90) in Wenxian county, Henan Province. This style is characterized by practical movements, steps and postures based on the original moves in line with the human physiological structure for the multiple purposes of health care, mind cultivation and physical attacks. 

Taijiquan has been spread to more than 150 countries and regions in the world, attracting more than 600 million practitioners. 

In 2006, Taijiquan was listed on China's first batch of national cultural heritage. In 2020, it was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. 

Global Times

Taijiquan practitioners train in Bozhou, Anhui Province. Photo: IC

Taijiquan practitioners train in Bozhou, Anhui Province. Photo: IC