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(4 pages total)

Page 3 - Various Styles of Taijiquan: Which One is For Me

Sample Postures

Author demonstrates single whip posture for each style. Left photo: Shyun style. Legs form full Gongbo as shown with unequal distribution of body weight. Eyes looking toward left. One arm extends more than the other. Eyes looking toward the direction of the more extended army and leg, backward. Right photo: Woo (or Wu/Hao) and Lee styles. Half Gongbo as in Lee style. Little extensions of the arms. Eyes looking toward left.

Category 2 includes Yang, Wu and Wu Too Nan´s rendition of both Yang and Wu styles, Taoist Taijiquan, Taiji Sisansee and the 64-form Yang style with left and right movements at equal frequency. The movements of these forms share five qualities--slowness, lightness, clarity, balance, and calmness--that are the essentials and the foundation of Taijiquan with respect to health and mental well being of doing this exercise art. The Yang and Wu styles are the most practiced in China as well as in America. One will also find many people teaching these styles or their condensed versions. Although the Wu Too Nan´s rendition combines the virtue of Yang and Wu, very few people other than the author are teaching this style. The Taoist Taijiquan is a variation of the standard Yang´s 108-form sequence and is under the banner of Taoist Taijiquan Association of North America. Taiji Sisansee and the 64-form Yang have not yet gained a foothold in America.

The movements of Category 2 are carried out at an even tempo--the speed of which will depend on individual. Beginners usually start with a higher stance and gradually lower it with time. Because the practitioners are usually encouraged to execute the movements in large circles and extended arms, the practitioners are allowed a wide range of freedom of execution in accordance with individual´s physique and mentality. The movements are gentle enough even for older persons, including those who have been physically inactive. Doing the Taijiquan in this category consistently as a daily routine will enhance flexibility, endurance, stamina, and reduction of frailty due to aging1. Because of the popularity of Yang and Wu styles since the late Qing Dynasty, most of the general public considers this group to be the "real" Taijiquan and deviations from it are not.

Sample Postures

Author demonstrates single whip posture for each style. Left photo: Wu and Wu Too Nan´s styles. Body mass equally distributed with Mabo stance. Arms outstretched. The hook is having the thumb, the second and middle fingers together and the other 2 bending inward. Eyes looking to left. Right photo: Yang style. Legs form full Gongbo. Arms extended and the hook as in Chen style. Eyes looking toward left.

Category 3 includes Woo (or Wu/Hao), Shyun, and Lee styles. The postures of these styles are tight and close, where the angle of the forearm and the upper arm is usually less than 90 degrees. The movements are in small circles or spirals and the stances are more upright than those in other categories. The motion appears buoyant and light with a poetic touch which might be due to the fact that Woo and Shyun were men of literature, not professional martial artists like members of the Chen, Wu and Yang families. Doing Taijiquan was just a hobby to them. Therefore, not many knew of these two forms until recently, when the Chinese government encouraged their representations in the Wushu arena.

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