Group Practicing Taijiquan

What is TAijiquan?

People the world over are practicing an art characterized by its soft, slow movements. To the uninitiated, these movements might look like a choreographed dance. However, the movements are far more than a dance. They are the unique movements of Taijiquan.

But what is Taijiquan?

Taijiquan is often shortened to “taiji,” which means “great polarities of yin and yang.” The “quan” refers to “boxing.” Thus, “taijiquan” can be translated as “the grand ultimate boxing” or “the great polarities boxing.” Due to the complexity and the difficulty of translating the Chinese language, sometimes taijiquan is written as “tai chi chuan,” “tai chi,” or more rarely as “t’ai-chi ch’uan.” However it is spelled, though, it is the use of the Daoist philosophy of yin and yang that makes the art so distinctive.

Statue of Single Whip Lowering

Statue of Single Whip Lowering

A detailed discussion of yin and yang could fill a large book, but essentially yin and yang could be thought of as complementary opposites. Sun/Moon, Bright/Dark, Heavy/Light, Male/Female, Push/Pull, Inhale/Exhale are all examples of yin and yang. It is this unique use of the dual nature of yin and yang that made it so revolutionary centuries ago and makes taijiquan relevant today. It is this singular concept that permeates all of taijiquan and generates its distinctive training methods.

To go fast, one must learn to go slow. To train the body, one must train the mind. To hurt, one must learn to heal. To grow old, one must reclaim one’s youthful vitality. 
Yin and yang.

Until recently, taijiquan had been passed down through families. Taijiquan takes many forms, each given the surnames of their founders. Typically, the movements in the art of Taijiquan are soft and subtle and are done in coordination with focused breathing. Though Taijiquan was created as a devastating martial art currently schools often emphasize its numerous health aspects or powerful meditative capabilities--often not having ranks, sparring, or competitions.

In short, Taijiquan is a complete system of healing, martial arts, and meditation. Most importantly, it is accessible to anyone, regardless of differing abilities.