(9 pages total)
The Origins of Taijiquan
The origin of Taijiquan is one mixed with legends, theories, and folklore. The most commonly held belief places its historical origin around a small village in China's Henan Province (Chenjiagou), in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties.
(Historical Time Line).
This village is where the oldest known "forms" were developed and taught by Wang TsungYhueh, and where Taijiquan seems to have become organized and structured into an "official" martial art. Wang is credited with writing a text entitled "Taijiquan Lun", which is part of a collection (or canon) of classical writings that form the guidelines for all styles of Taijiquan.
It must be noted that there are several other reputable opinions concerning the origin of the famous art, including the popular story about a Daoist Immortal named Chang SanFeng who created Taijiquan after watching a battle between a snake and a crane.
One thing is obvious... Taijiquan did not just "pop" into someone's head, and Taijiquan has, and still is, evolving and being refined by those who study and practice it daily.
Current styles have evolved through major changes in religious, philosophical, and economic changes within China as well as foreign invasions, domestic peasant uprisings, and major shifts in governmental policies.
Taijiquan has evolved into many "styles" or schools with just five of these schools currently dominating the practice throughout the world. Each of these schools have further fragmented into sub-groups led by entrepreneurial teachers who were separated by the main school by small variations in their practice and, most commonly, by geographical divisions. China is a large country and only within the last 10 years, has travel become commonplace.
Today in the West, there can be significant differences in the postures from one geographic region to another and from one teacher to another, although they follow the same family style. Many Taiji enthusiasts never venture from their own small study-group and do not realize there are other forms and styles of Taijiquan practiced. Although it is quite common to see Taiji being performed in a movie or TV commercial, they usually show only a second or two of the movements. An explosion in the number of books and videos has not reduced the number of variations and styles... only made the community more aware of them.
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