Study Guide 2


 To pass this unit you will need to be able to:


2.1 Summarise the history of Tai Chi in accordance with Chinese tradition.
2.2 Explain the 5 main styles of Tai Chi and their origins.
2.3 Explain the 13 essentials of Tai Chi application.
2.4 Discuss the health benefits of Tai Chi.



History of Tai Chi

Some say that the internal arts in China started to develop some 5,000 years ago. Exercises for health can be found in the Yellow Emperors Book -The Classic of Internal Medicine- with many Taoist recluses adding and building to the knowledge over time. Eventually the martial art forms that we know to day developed - with places like the Wudang mountain temple leading the way. It is generally agreed that during the 1600's the Chen family in the Henan province China were the first to develop the Tai Chi as we know it today.

Tai Chi translates as supreme ultimate boxing (fist) and is a Chinese martial art based on the old Taoist (Daoist) concepts of Yin and Yang. It is an Internal art that uses internal energy.

Below are the History Links for your study of this subject.
It is also recommended, if you have The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan, that you now read Chapter 3 - The Historical Development of Various Styles.

The links below will also help your understanding

A brief summary

A guide to the History of Tai Chi

For this level 3 course, you are expected to carry out some of your own research. Now is the time to start to look at the internet for information that will help you complete the assignment for this unit.

So, what have you found out about the History of Tai Chi?
In your research have you found out the original name of Tai Chi?
Have you discovered that there are a few different versions of the history? What are they?
Have you discovered the original link between martial art and health?
Do you know the names of the main people?
Are there any place names that stick out?
Have you discovered that there are different styles of Tai Chi?

If you can answer these questions then you are probably ready to make a start your assignment. Just remember that you will be covering the different styles of Tai Chi in your next assignment, so you don't have to include a great detail about this now - a mention will be enough.


The 5 Main Styles of Tai Chi 


If you have read Chapter 3 of The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan, you will find that you have already started to gain information on the styles of Tai Chi. The links below show the 5 main styles and how they differ.

5 Main styles - 1
5 Main styles - 2

You will need to do some research of your own - If you take a look at Tai Chi Chuan in Wikipedia,
this will give you lots of good information on the 5 main styles.

If you know what the 5 main styles are, their origins & originators, and the characteristics or peculiarities, then you're ready to move on to your assignment. Wikipedia will be useful for this - you may want to take a few notes as you look through.


The Thirteen Essential Techniques of Tai Chi Application 

 We will now take a brief look at one of the other components of Tai Chi - Martial Art & Self Defence.

According to Chinese legend, Tai Chi began in the 13th century when a Taoist named Chang Sanfeng, who lived in Wudang Mountain, saw a crane swoop down to capture a snake.
Despite many attacks, the snake was able to avoid the bird’s beak (the strong point) by constantly shifting from side to side and attacking the crane’s weak side. As the snake tried to dart its fangs into the crane's leg, the crane would raise the leg and lower a wing to ward off the attack.
Chang saw how softness could overcome hardness, and how the idea of yielding to enemy’s strong force and striking his weak part, could have practical application in the martial arts. Therefore, he created Tai Chi and handed it down through the generations.

It is believed that Taoist monks began practicing Tai Chi in monasteries for two reasons: one was to defend themselves from bandits, and second was to promote health because they were out of shape from sitting around meditating all the time!

You may see from the above explanation, that it is important to have a basic understanding of the martial art aspect, even for health Tai Chi.

As this is a foundation course you will not be studying the practical aspect of martial art. It is important though, that you gain an understanding of the components and roots of Tai Chi. This is where the 13 essentials techniques of Tai Chi application come in. 

Click here for  The Thirteen Essentials of Tai Chi Application. This is a list of thirteen movements/postures. Please download to your computer or print out.

 There are also some useful videos that will help your understanding. Please take time to watch them as they will help your understanding of the subject.

To watch Peng Lu & An being executed with a partner, click on the link below.

This link shows a short demo of the Sun style Tai Chi applications

A video of the martial art application for Brush Knee Step.


The movement Wave Hands like Clouds

Yang Style Form Applications 

Before you finish your studies on the applications, it would be appropriate to return, briefly, to the concept of the 5 Elements.

If you look back at Study Guide 1, you will see that each one of the 5 Elements represent a direction or foot pattern -

  • Metal represents Forward
  • Wood represents Back
  • Water represents Left
  • Fire represents Right
  • Earth represents Centre

And each element is either 'above' or 'below' the other in terms of strength.

  • Metal destroys Wood
  • Wood destroys Earth
  • Earth destroys Water
  • Water destroys Fire
  • Fire destroys Metal

  • So what does this have to do with the martial art applications?

    The 5 Elements show us which is the best or worse of the 5 directions that could be taken, in any given situation. You don't actually need to step forward, back or to the side when moving from the centre - a slight shift of weight in the appropriate direction will normally do the trick. The directions refer to the direction in which our body is moving at any one time.

    Here's a few examples.
    If our opponent uses Metal (moves Forward) our response must follow the theory of the Five Elements. In other words we must use Water (move Left) or Fire (move Right) to destroy his Metal. If instead we use Metal (move Forward) also, then the stronger Metal will win, but this is contrary to Tai Chi Chuan principles. If we remain rooted to the Earth (Centre) Element we will be overcome by the advancing Metal. If we make use of Wood (move Back) the Metal will thrust forward in pursuit and cut us down when there is no more room to run.

    Have you ever played that hand game - Paper, Stone etc? Well if you have, then the concept is very similar! 

    Push Hands 


    Now we need to look at another important practice which is part of Tai Chi martial art
    You are not expected to perform or practise this art, but it is important that you know
    it exists and why!
    The description below is taken from Push Hands on wikipedia but it is worth taking a look at the whole article by clicking here

    "Pushing hands is said to be the gateway for students to understand experientially the martial aspects of the Internal martial arts; leverage, reflex, sensitivity, timing, coordination and positioning. Pushing hands works to undo a person's natural instinct to resist force with force, teaching the body to yield to force and redirect it. Health oriented tai chi schools may teach push hands to complement the physical conditioning available from performing solo form routines. Push hands allows students to learn how to respond to external stimuli using technique from their forms practice. Among other things, training with a partner allows a student to develop ting (jing - listening power), the sensitivity to feel the direction and strength of a partner's intention. In that sense pushing hands is a contract between students to train the defensive and offensive movement principles of their martial art; learning to generate, coordinate and deliver power to another and also how to effectively neutralize incoming forces in a safe environment."

    For a video and audio description of Push hands, please click on the link below.

    What is Push Hands?

    By now, you should have gained an understanding that Tai Chi is not only a set of gentle and slow movements. As you will have discovered, it is a lot more than this.


    The Health Benefits of Tai Chi


    The health benefits that can be gained from Tai Chi, fall into 3 categories:

    This part of the unit relies on your own personal research into the topic. There are a number of links provided for you below, but you will find a lot more out there if you make a search of the internet. Happy Searching!

    Here's a good start -

    Benefits of Tai Chi

    Health Benefits - 1

    Health Benefits - 2

    Health Benefits - 3

    Health Benefits - 4