Welcome to Wood Dragon - the pragmatic tai-chi chuan (taijiquan) information portal. My 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 which is a reference to a fundamental Taoist philosophical concept from which yin and yang are derived. Traditional tai-chi chuan (taijiquan) can be defined as a Chinese internal martial art that embodies yin and yang in its movements, though modern usage of the name is commonly applied to any set of (sometimes simplified) martial movements and generic parameters performed in a relaxed, slow fashion. It is frequently contracted to tai-chi or taiji. The unique characteristics of the art have made it especially renowned for its health benefits which have given rise to its immense popularity.
As a result of the diversity between the traditional and the modern, 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.
Traditional tai-chi utilises the ancient Chinese wisdom of 'six harmonies motion' which is at the core of all internal martial arts and is derived from an understanding of the human anatomy, natural movement and the study of animals. In learning to walk on two legs mankind has lost a once innate connectivity between the four limbs 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 this same movement system, they differ considerably both in tactical application and training methods.
Tai-chi uniquely adds to this six harmonies methodology the characteristically slow movements which 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.
Tai-chi can seem to be shrouded in mysticism and superstition, with much of the underlying methodology being occluded. This makes it hard to penetrate 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 tai-chi, derived from 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 ..."
"... Missing it by a little will lead one many miles astray."
(typically accredited to) Wang Tsung-yueh C.1750