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TAIJIQUAN/TAI CHI CHUAN

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CHINA KOREA MONGOLIA AND TIBET
Ba Fa Quan Ba Gua Zhang Ba Ji Quan Bak Fu Pai Bak Mei Black Crane Kung Fu
Black Tiger Chang Quan Choy Gar Choy Li Fut Chuo Jiao Da Cheng Quan
Di Tang Quan Dim Mak Do Pi Kung Fu Dragon Fist Drunken Monkey Duan Quan
Emei Quan Fanzi Quan Feng Shou Five Ancestors Fist Five Animals Fu Jow Pai
Fujian White Crane Fut Gar Kung Fu Go-Ti Boxing Gou Quan Hong Cha Hou Quan
Hua Quan Hung Fut Hung Gar Hung Sing Jing Quan Do Jiu Fa Men
Lai Tung Pai Lau Gar Leopard Kung Fu Liq Chuan Liu He Luohan Quan
Meihua Quan Mian Quan Mizongyi Nan Quan Northern Eagle Claw Northern Praying Mantis
Pao Chui Pigua Quan Quan Fa San Shou Sansoo Shaolin Kung Fu
Shaolin Nam Pai Chuan Shuai Jiao Snake Kung Fu Southern Praying Mantis Tai Sheng Men Taijiquan
Tai Chi Chuan
Tamo Sho Tan Tui Tang Shou Dao Tien Shan Pai Tiger Kung Fu Tongbei Quan
Wing Chun Wushu Xingyi Quan Yau Kung Moon Zui Quan  

Taijiquan more famously known as Tai Chi Chuan (太極拳) is typically practiced for a variety of other personal reasons: its hard and soft martial art technique, demonstration competitions, health and longevity. Consequently, a multitude of training forms exist, both traditional and modern, which correspond to those aims. Some of tai chi chuan's training forms are well known to Westerners as the slow motion routines that groups of people practice together every morning in parks around the world, particularly in China.

Today, tai chi has spread worldwide. Most modern styles of tai chi trace their development to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu and Sun. The origins and creation of tai chi are a subject of much argument and speculation. However, the oldest documented tradition is that of the Chen family from the 1820s.

Translates as "supreme ultimate fist", "boundless fist," "great extremes boxing", or simply "the ultimate" (note that 'chi' in this instance is the Wade-Giles of Pinyin j, not to be confused with the use of ch'i / q in the sense of "life-force" or "energy"). The concept of the Taiji "supreme ultimate" appears in both Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy where it represents the fusion or mother of Yin and Yang into a single ultimate, represented by the Taijitu symbol. Thus, tai chi theory and practice evolved in agreement with many of the principles of Chinese philosophy including both Taoism and Confucianism. Tai chi training first and foremost involves learning solo routines, known as forms (套路 taolu). While the image of tai chi chuan in popular culture is typified by exceedingly slow movement, many tai chi styles (including the three most popular, Yang, Wu and Chen) have secondary forms of a faster pace. Some traditional schools of tai chi teach partner exercises known as pushing hands, and martial applications of the postures of the form.

At the height of its development, around 1644 AD, tai chi had become a fast martial art that also valued slow movements meant to expand the mind and focus the body's energy. However, the Manchurians invaded the Chinese empire and created the Ch'ing Dynasty. When the new emperor saw the health and vitality of tai chi masters, he demanded he be taught the secrets of tai chi. While refusal to teach the emperor would mean death, the tai chi masters decided to only teach the slow, flowing movements rather than the fast martial art aspect of tai chi. The Manchus, now believing that they had learned tai chi, began to practice it on a large scale. The Chinese, on the whole not knowing tai chi, saw their new leaders practicing tai chi and began to practice it themselves. This is how the slow flowing movements that are internationally recognized as tai chi came into practice. But, just like shaolin kung fu, both the meditative and physical practices of tai chi were originally considered necessary for the complete practice of tai chi, referred to as temple style tai chi. However, many of the slow elements of tai chi have evolved into their own schools of practice, such as Yang style tai chi chuan.

Tai chi chuan is generally classified as a form of traditional Chinese martial arts of the Neijia (soft or internal) branch. It is considered a soft style martial art an art applied with internal power to distinguish its theory and application from that of the hard martial art styles.
Since the first widespread promotion of tai chi's health benefits by Yang Shaohou, Yang Chengfu, Wu Chien-ch'uan and Sun Lutang in the early twentieth century, it has developed a worldwide following among people with little or no interest in martial training, for its benefit to health and health maintenance. Medical studies of tai chi support its effectiveness as an alternative exercise and a form of martial arts therapy.

Focusing the mind solely on the movements of the form purportedly helps to bring about a state of mental calm and clarity. Besides general health benefits and stress management attributed to tai chi training, aspects of traditional Chinese medicine are taught to advanced tai chi students in some traditional schools. Some martial arts, especially the Japanese martial arts, use a uniform for students during practice. Tai chi chuan schools do not generally require a uniform, but both traditional and modern teachers often advocate loose, comfortable clothing and flat-soled shoes.

The physical techniques of tai chi chuan are described in the tai chi classics (a set of writings by traditional masters) as being characterized by the use of leverage through the joints based on coordination in relaxation, rather than muscular tension, in order to neutralize or initiate attacks. The slow, repetitive work involved in the process of learning how that leverage is generated gently and measurably increases, opens the internal circulation (breath, body heat, blood, lymph, peristalsis, etc.)

The study of tai chi chuan primarily involves three aspects:
Health: An unhealthy or otherwise uncomfortable person may find it difficult to meditate to a state of calmness or to use tai chi as a martial art. Tai chi's health training therefore concentrates on relieving the physical effects of stress on the body and mind. For those focused on tai chi's martial application, good physical fitness is an important step towards effective self-defense.

Meditation
: The focus and calmness cultivated by the meditative aspect of tai chi is seen as necessary in maintaining optimum health (in the sense of relieving stress and maintaining homeostasis) and in application of the form as a soft style martial art.

Martial art
: The ability to use tai chi as a form of self-defense in combat is the test of a student's understanding of the art. Tai chi chuan martially is the study of appropriate change in response to outside forces; the study of yielding and "sticking" to an incoming attack rather than attempting to meet it with opposing force.

Tai chi's martial aspect relies on sensitivity to the opponent's movements and center of gravity dictating appropriate responses. Effectively affecting or "capturing" the opponent's center of gravity immediately upon contact is trained as the primary goal of the martial tai chi student. The sensitivity needed to capture the center is acquired over thousands of hours of first yin (slow, repetitive, meditative, low impact) and then later adding yang ("realistic," active, fast, high impact) martial training; forms, pushing hands and sparring. Tai chi trains in three basic ranges, close, medium and long, and then everything in between. Pushes and open hand strikes are more common than punches, and kicks are usually to the legs and lower torso, never higher than the hip depending on style. The fingers, fists, palms, sides of the hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, back, hips, knees and feet are commonly used to strike, with strikes to the eyes, throat, heart, groin and other acupressure points trained by advanced students. Joint traps, locks and breaks (chin na) are also used. Most tai chi teachers expect their students to thoroughly learn defensive or neutralizing skills first, and a student will have to demonstrate proficiency with them before offensive skills will be extensively trained. There is also an emphasis in the traditional schools that one is expected to show wu te (武德), martial virtue or heroism, to protect the defenseless and show mercy to one's opponents.

In addition to the physical form, martial tai chi chuan schools also focus on how the energy of a strike affects the other person. Palm strikes that physically look the same may be performed in such a way that it has a completely different effect on the target's body. A palm strike could simply push the person forward, be focused in such a way as lift them vertically off the ground breaking their center of gravity, or terminate the force of the strike within the other person's body with the intent of causing internal damage.

Other training exercises include:
Weapons training and fencing applications employing the straight sword known as the jian or chien or gim (jin 劍), a heavier curved sabre, sometimes called a broadsword or tao (dāo 刀, which is actually considered a big knife), folding fan also called san, wooden staff (2 m) known as kun (棍), 7 foot (2 m) spear and 13 foot (4 m) lance (both called qiāng 槍). More exotic weapons still used by some traditional styles are the large Dadao or Ta Tao (大刀) and Pudao or P'u Tao (撲刀) sabres, halberd (jǐ 戟), cane, rope-dart, three sectional staff, Wind and fire wheels, lasso, whip, chain whip and steel whip.

Two-person tournament sparring (as part of push hands competitions and/or sanshou 散手);

Breathing exercises; nei kung (內功 nigōng) or, more commonly, ch'i kung (氣功 qgōng) to develop ch'i (氣 q) or "breath energy" in coordination with physical movement and post standing or combinations of the two. These were formerly taught only to disciples as a separate, complementary training system. In the last 50 years they have become better known to the general public.

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