Welcome to Wood Dragon - the tai-chi chuan (taijiquan) information portal. Our aim is to provide an information source for people who study or are thinking of studying tai-chi (taiji). To explain exactly what tai-chi is, why it is justly famed and to facilitate the separation of truth from myth.
Tai-chi (taiji) literally translates as supreme-ultimate, but this is a reference to a Taoist philosophical concept from which yin and yang are derived. Tai-chi chuan (taijiquan) can be defined as an internal martial art that embodies yin and yang in its movements. It is often referred to simply as tai-chi or taiji. Its unique characteristics have made it especially renowned for its health benefits which have given rise to its immense popularity.
Tai-chi encompasses a wide range of levels and skill sets. At its simplest it is a gentle exercise that can be beneficial to almost anyone, while at the opposite end of the spectrum it is an athletic and extremely effective martial art.
Tai-chi utilises the ancient Chinese wisdom of 'six harmonies motion' which is the core feature of all internal martial arts and which is derived from an understanding of natural movement and the study of animals. In learning to walk on two legs mankind has lost this innate ability which now has to be trained into the body. This whole body movement develops a balanced, relaxed and coordinated body structure. While all internal martial arts use the same core skills, they differ considerably both in tactical application and training methods.
Tai-chi uniquely adds to this six harmonies methodology the characteristically slow 'silk reeling' motion. These slow movements impart a calming quality that aids relaxation, improves concentration and helps to develop the necessary control of the body that is required to achieve the core skills.
But it's a big subject and with much of it shrouded in mysticism and folk lore it can be hard to get to the core truths. Yet understanding these core principles is pivotal to making progress irrespective of whether you aspire to improving health or to martial prowess.
It's my hope that this site will help to unravel the mystery surrounding tai-chi and add to your understanding of this art.
Tai-chi chuan and taijiquan are the same thing. The different spellings have arisen due to a change in the convention used when translating from Chinese to English. Taijiquan is the more modern convention (pinyin) but the old colonial spelling of t'ai-chi ch'uan remains in common usage throughout the west.
"Tai-chi comes from wu-chi and is the mother of yin and yang.
In motion it separates, in stillness they fuse.
It is not excessive or deficient; accordingly when it bends, it then straightens."
Wang Tsung-yueh C.1750