Brief History of Tai Chi

The History of Tai Chi in China

Tai Chi is a martial art that features dance- or yoga-style moves that are beautiful to observe in a group setting. There are a variety of styles, but they all share basic principles. More than a defense skill, tai chi focuses on meditation, breathing, strength, muscle control, mindfulness, energy, and serenity. It contributes to fitness, circulation, agility, and balance, improving the mind, body, and spirit. Tai chi is easy to learn and can be practiced by people of any age. Practitioners are long-term converts.

Philosophy of Tai Chi is Based on Taoism

Like tai chi, Taoism is based on opposites such as Yin and Yang. Yin is receptive and dark. Yang is active and light. In both tai chi and Taoism, the opposing forces work in harmony.

Feng, Yue, or Ting: Creator of Tai Chi?

A legend states that a Taoist priest, Zhang San Feng, created tai chi. In this version, the movements were based on a crane’s movements and a snake engaged in a battle. Another version of the creation of tai chi credits Wang Zong Yue with creating tai chi. He was allegedly the student of Feng and author of the Tai Chi Treatise. This version says that Yue derided the village of Chen on their martial arts ability. Villagers attacked him, but he fought back vigorously. So, he became the village’s martial arts instructor. A third seemingly more legitimate version gives credit to Chen Wang Ting. Ting may have been Yue’s student, but he also had a military, medical, and Taoist yoga background. Four variations originated from Ting’s version of tai chi.

Tai Chi in Recent History

During the late 1950s to the early 1960s, and again in the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, the Chinese government discouraged Tai Chi’s practice. This was because of its close relationship to Taoism. However, in the modern era, the Chinese government supports tai chi, and it almost ranks as a national sport. Tai chi has also spread worldwide because it’s easy for everyone of any age to practice, and it is relaxing, increases balance, and provides other health benefits.

Javill Byron is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, martial artist, and self-defense expert. Follow him on Twitter @ByronJavill