Tai Chi

Origin and Development of Tai Chi

It is said that the Taoist holy man Mr. Zhang Sanfeng set up Wudang Sect in Wudang Mountain in the early Ming Dynasty (1368) and recruited followers from different places. After years of the study of Taoism, he made a great contribution to promoting Taoist theory. Besides, he created several Martial arts with using fist only, Tai Chi included. One legend tells that when Zhang Sanfeng practiced in a cave, he found a magpie and snake fighting. The magpie took the initiative attack and the snake just avoided hitting. When the magpie was exhausted, the snake gave a deadly strike. Illuminated by the snake, Zhang Sanfeng created Tai Chi which is famous for conquering the unyielding with the yielding and coping with all motions by remaining motionless. Because of his Kungfu accomplishments and Taoist attainments, Zhang Sanfeng enjoys a long standing reputation. The Emperor Zhu Di has invited him to the Forbidden City to propagate Taoism in spite of his refusal.

Afterwards, Tai Chi was come down in Wudang Mountain. On the basis of Zhang Sanfeng’s accomplishments, many successive generations continue the traditions and several branches of practice have been evolved over years. Since the founding of People’s Republic of China, it has experienced a rapid expansion and the Tai Chi players are popping up all around China. As the birthplace of Tai Chi, Wudang Mountain is still popular place for learning Tai Chi. Many modern style of Tai Chi traced their development to several schools, most influential schools including Chen (陈氏), Yang (杨式), Wu(吴氏), Wu(武式) and Sun(孙式).

At present, there are many Scientific Research Departments researching on Tai Chi from the perspective of medicine, physiology, psychology, biochemistry etc.. Their research shows that playing Tai Chi is helpful to prevent or cure some chronic diseases, like hypertension, heart disease, arthropathy, intestinal tract disease etc.

Although Taichi traditionally has no colored sash ranking system, I felt it was necessary to create this system to make sure my curriculum is structured and my students get the most out of their training.

This system not only allows my students and me to keep track of their progress, it also encourages each student to continue training each skill that they learn. As you can see from the list of requirements there are 3 levels to each sash. When a student tests for the 2nd level of a sash, they must retest the 1st level skills. When they test for a 3rd level, they must retest the 1st and 2nd level skills. This encourages each student to review and refresh his or her skills frequently, and facilitates better learning.

Wudang Tai Chi Fist is situated within Taoism. It is China’s special martial arts culture, even more so a Taoist study of dual cultivation of innate character and life-destiny via moving exercises. Its theories are based on the universal Tao of the Tao Te Ching:
1. “The Dao gives birth to One;
2. One gives birth to Two;
3. Two gives birth to Three;
4. Three gives birth to the 1000 things;
5. The 10000 things support Yin and embrace Yang,
6. This adaptive Qi is considered harmony.”

Taichi Quan Comes From Wudang
Since Chinese Wushu has a long history, no one can tell exactly the sources of so many kinds of boxing Styles and there is no available way to find them. For example, Eight- Diagram palm was created by Dong Hai chuan, and then he passed it to Bi Cheng Qie (Red Lotus Taoist) and his master's brother Guo Yuanji (Iron Cap Taoist), but nobody knows to whom Bi and Guo passed on the boxing? Another example, Nature Gate of Wan Lai Voice (sound of nature) was passed on to Dwarf Xu. But then to whom? Form and Will Boxing is said to come from the Boxing script of Yue Fei (a patriot of the Southern Song Dynasty), and Yue Fei imparted it to Zhou Tong, but to whom Zhou tong passed on it? And what about Gongsun aunt's graceful sword arts? Many unknown things exist among famous generals. It is known to all that Taichi Quan was from Zhang Sanfeng of Wudang, but in the 30s of 20th century, it was suspected after Tang Hao and Gu Liuxin's research. They insisted that Chen Pu and Chen Wangting of Chen Village created Taichi Quan. Therefore they declined the fact that the real creator was Zhang Sanfeng.

Who created Taichi Quan and where is its source?
It is a mistake that Chen Clan created Taichi Quan. Preface of Taichi Quan illustration by Chen Xin says that the first ancestor Wei Pu taught his son and grandson in his spare time to move Yin and Yang to help digest. And his movement was based on Taichi, thus it was called Taichi Quan. If it was true, then Eight-Diagram and Twelve-Diagram were called Taichi Quan, too. Later in the Chen clan's family tree, no one was mentioned to have practiced Wushu. Is this a mistake? There was no written materials about this.

Type of Tai Chi
There are 5 different styles of Tai Chi that are connected with each other. Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu and Sun styles. All 5 styles are connected together; their outside movements are a little different but inside the energies are the same.

1. Chen Style – is fast and slow combined together with some jumping and stomping movements. Old form and cannon fist was created from the 17th generation. Chen was created by Chen Wangting.

2. Yang Style – Yang Luchan learned the old form/frame from the Chen family. Yang movements are slow, even, gentle, big and large. Yang Luchan learned from the 14th generation Chen family member. Yang was created by Yang Luchan.

3. Wu/Hao Style – The 1st Wu style came from Yang and Chen styles and is slow, smooth, and small and the posture is high. Wu Yuxiang learned from Yang Banhou, 2nd generation Yang family member, and then learned from Chen Qingping, 14th generation. Wu/Hao is a smaller frame. Wu/Hao was created by Wu Yuxiang.

4. Wu Style – 2nd Wu style comes from Quanyu who learned from Yang Banhou. They lean their body to the side but when they lean they think about being straight. Wu learned from Yang Banhou. Later in age Banhou’s frame became smaller. Wu was created by Wu Jian Quan or Wu Quanyu.

5. Sun Style – learned from Hao Weijian. Their movements combine 3 styles of Tai Chi together, Wu, Xingyi and Bagua.



White Belt

1. Single Whip Horse Stance: 1½ minutes
2. Tai Chi Basic exercises
3. Warm up Qi Gong routine and stretching exercises
4. Understanding Posture and key Tai Chi principles
5. Basic Tai Chi footwork
6. 4 Sections of Single-Hand Push Hands

Yellow Belt

1. Single Whip Horse Stance: 2 minutes
2. 22 Posture Form
3. Continue practicing the exercises and moves learned from basic training
4. Continue applying the principles and requirements from basic training
5. Learn Yang Style Tai Chi moves 1 to 14

Orange Belt

1. Single Whip Horse Stance: 2½ minutes
2. Understand and apply 1-2 more Tai Chi principles
3. Names of the 44 Postures
4. Be familiar with some of the Taichi Classic Principles
5. All the Single-Hand Push Hands Exercises
6. Learn Yang Style Tai Chi moves 15 to 29

Green Belt

1. Single Whip Horse Stance: 3 minutes
2. Taichi Saber Form
3. Begin to understand “Listening Energy” and to find the center and root
4. Double-Handed Push Hands
5. Continue practicing the exercises and moves learned from the previous levels
6. Continue applying the principles and requirements from the previous levels

Blue Belt

1. Single Whip Horse Stance: 3½ minutes
2. Long Form (108 Postures)
3. Understand the use of energy and the “Center of Equilibrium” posture
4. Perform Double-Handed Push Hands
5. Additional exercises to work on flexibility and balance
6. Learn Yang Style Tai Chi moves 30 to 46

Purple Belt

1. Single Whip Horse Stance: 4 minutes
2. Combination Form
3. Understand the use of energy and the “Center of Equilibrium” posture
4. Perform Double and Free-Style Push Hands
5. Continue practicing the exercises and moves learned from the previous levels
6. Continue applying the principles and requirements from the previous levels

Brown Belt

1. Single Whip Horse Stance: 4½ minutes
2. One side of the Two-Player Form
3. Understand the use of energy and the “Center of Equilibrium” posture
4. Perform Double and Free-Style Push Hands
5. Understand and apply 1-2 advanced Tai Chi principles
6. Learn Yang Style Tai Chi moves 47 to 85

Black Belt

1. Single Whip Horse Stance: 5 minutes
2. Straight Sword Form
3. Both sides of the Two-Player Form
4. All Types of Push Hands
5. Understand the Root, Center, Listening, Dissolving and Discharging Energy
6. Practicing the entire traditional Yang Style Tai Chi forms
7. Applying basic and advanced Tai Chi principles and requirements
8. Detailed form refinement and applications

Training Methods

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