Co je tchaj-ťi čchüan?
What is taijiquan?
The other day I was in a park practicing tai chi. A man walked by with his young son who asked, „what is he doing“? The father replied ‚he is doing tai chi – its like yoga.“ It seems many people do not really know what tai chi is. Maybe they saw on TV elderly folks in China practicing in the park in the morning, and decided that tai chi is a slow motion exercise for old people. When I tell people that tai chi is a martial art, mostly they do not believe it – how could these slow motion movements be use for real self defense?
The problem is, most people are not seeing the real original taijiquan – they are seeing an oversimplified version that has transformed the original art into that slow motion simple watered down version. And this is what most people see.
The correct name is taijiquan. Also spelled tai chi chuan, and usually shortened to tai chi.
Remember, the Chinese writing system uses characters (pictures) rather than our alphabet. So in order for foreigners to pronounce Chinese, we need a system to change those characters into our letter system – and there are several different systems. This is why it can be spelled several different ways…
Taiji means „grand ultimate“ – this is an ancient concept referring to the balance of yin yang, or complementary forces. For example fast-slow, high-low, big-small, front -back, up-down, etc. So everything has its complement. Taiji refers to the ongoing BALANCE of these complements.
The word „quan“ ( or chuan) means fist or boxing.
Therefore, the term taijiquan refers to a martial art based on the balance of yin yang.
TAIJIQUAN IS A MARTIAL ART
As created by General Chen Wangting (1600–1680), based on his extensive military art experience and along with his knowledge of traditional medicine and philosophy, Chen synthesized his family’s martial art into what he called taijiquan.
This art has been passed down through the generations beginning in Chenjiagou (Chen Family Village), a small farming village in northern central China.
Having visited Chenjiagou many times for my own personal training, I can tell you that in my teachers‘ school (Grandmaster Wang Xi’an), the training is STRICTLY MARTIAL – every moment, every movement, gesture, posture, is taught for both self defense and health!
WE do not move on to a new movement until we completely understand how to execute one movement, and how to apply it for self defense!
This is the original training method. Then the students practice one movement over and over for hours, days, weeks… until they can apply it for its self defense meaning accurately and realistically.
When I teach, I offer only the original training methods. I do not simplify or water down this art in any way to make it easier for people to learn. My philosophy has always been that if you are going to do something, do it the right way the first time.
Many teachers tell prospective students that they would be better off to learn the simplified forms first, and later the more complicated original ones. My response to this is, why would you take the time to learn simplified forms that cause you to develop bad habits? And then have to go back and try to correct them? It is much easier and faster to learn the proper way from the beginning, and not breed bad habits!
I hope this helps explain what taijiquan is, and that everyone will now consider this when searching for a teacher to learn this art! I am happy to answer any questions that arise from this article.
I hope everyone will be inspired and motivated to learn taijiquan properly, and work diligently to raise the standard of skill – and not settle for simplified methods just because they are easy to learn – the more difficult the art is to learn, the greater the benefits!
Dr. Bob Bacher
You can find more information at: www.dochenstyletaichi.com