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(9 pages total)

Page 2 - Taijiquan (T'ai Chi) Basics


Five Major Schools

These five schools mentioned in previous pages are "Chen", "Yang", "Wu", "Wu", and "Sun". Each of these schools took on the family-name of their main teacher or leader. For instance, the "Yang" style was developed and taught by the "Yang" family, and although the principles of all Taijiquan styles contain the philosophy of "yin" and "yang", the style's name had nothing to do with this philosophy.

The CHEN family style had the oldest formally recorded records of the practice of Taijiquan. Most scholars theorize that Wang TsungYueh was the first to transmit the knowledge of Taijiquan to the Chen family in the 18th century. It is commonly believed that Wang, when traveling through the Chen village, happened to see villagers practicing boxing. He made a few disparaging remarks in public about their skill...or lack of it. This angered some of the villagers and they challenged him to test their skill. Wang quickly and easily defeated them. Realizing that Wang's skill was far superior, the villagers begged him to stay and teach them his art. According to the stories, Wang taught them something he called Taijiquan.

As was common practice in ancient China, the family of Chen kept the fighting art that Wang had taught them a family secret and it was never taught to anyone outside of the family until the arrival of Yang LuShan (1799-1872), who became the founder of Yang style Taijiquan.

The Chen style is referred to as "lao" or "old" frame taijiquan. The Chen style has evolved into several routines, with some of the movements retaining much of the "martial" emphasis of the original boxing forms.

Yang LuShan
The YANG family style is by far the most popular and widely practiced style in the Western world. It is also the most fragmented style, with major differences in the choreography and postures of the routines between various groups within the style. The Yang style is commonly referred to as the "big" frame style because of its original wide stance and open movements.

It is commonly believed and documented that the Yang style originated with Yang LuShan, one of only two students taught by the Chen family who were not within their own blood-line.

After learning the Chen style forms in Henan Province, Yang traveled to his birthplace in Hobei Province and began teaching the forms. There, the thoughtful and skilled instructor developed a style with significant variations, thus the Yang family style was created (and continued to evolve). He then traveled to Beijing, the capital of China, to teach his Yang family style of taijiquan to the royal families and "Mandarin".


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