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Tai Ji Chuen is the keystone system. Tai Ji Chuen (T'ai Chi Ch'uan / Tai Ji Quan) emphasizes softness and yielding. It emphasises blending with the opponent's force. The technique includes striking with the hands, elbows, fingers, knees, and feet, Chin Na (seize and control techniques), and a few simple throws. Tai Ji Chuen (T'ai Chi Ch'uan / Tai Ji Quan) is a counterfighting method that emphasises defense first and attack second.  The practitioner learns to understand Yin and Yang as it pertains to combat. Tai Ji Chuen (T'ai Chi Ch'uan / Tai Ji Quan)  curriculum includes: the Long Yang form; applications of the 37 techniques; Tui Shou (Pushing hands) drills: fixed step, moving step, and Da Liu; jian (double edged sword); dao(single edged sword); and staff.

   Tai Ji Chuen is a sophisticated martial method that requires a strong understanding of the methods of combat to be able to develop the skills necessary in a fight. It develops an ability to flow with and around an opponent, sticking with them and nullifying their technique, creating openings to take advantage of the situation. There are anti-grab/grapple techniques and a few multiple opponent techniques. This is achieved by flowing with the opponent, not fighting against their strength, but using their strength and technique against them.

   Tai Ji Chuen is characterized by forms which are what most people are familiar with. These forms contain fully developed techniques (tactics). The forms are a catalog of these techniques, and are how one remembers them and practices them when no training partner is available. Like the forms in Wing Chun Kung Fu, the number of times one performs a technique is a signal whether this is an important technique. Groupings like "Grasp the Sparrow's Tail" are performed numerous times within the long form, and is what I call a "bread and butter" technique, one that is used a lot. The various techniques can be grouped as variations on a theme, and this is why many people say that many techniques are variations of "Grasp the Sparrow's Tail". The practice of Tui Shou (fixed step, moving step, and Da Liu) is designed to develop the ability to stick with and flow with the opponent, tailor the techniques to a particular opponent, and to be able to change when a given tactic does not work. The weapons forms (jian, dao, staff) work in much the same way.

   The Long (hand to hand technique) form is often done slowly as a form of Chi Gung. This is to meditate on the form and recreate the actuality of the technique in a form of visualization and sensory recreation. These aspects are referred to as "Silk Reeling" and "Swimming in Air". However the weapons forms are a form of weight training and are often done quickly.

   Much of what is done in Wing Chun Kung Fu is also done in Tai Ji Chuen. The sticking, the neutralization of technique, the counter striking and kicking are similar in both styles. The difference lies in the attitudes. Whereas Wing Chun emphasizes deflection and immediate counter striking, Tai Ji Chuen emphasizes evading, neutralizing, leading, with an escalating level of counter attack. In as such I refer to it as the "Reluctant fighter's method" much akin to the philosophy practiced in Aikido. Evade if you can. If they continue to attack try to control them. If that does not work then you must hurt the opponent. I have found the 5 Elements of Hsing-I contained within the Tai Ji Chuen form. There are also a few techniques that are similar to those found in the 12 animals of Hsing-I.

   The vast majority of people who practice Tai Ji Chuen do it as a Chi Gung. The martial aspects of the system have been lost or discarded because of various reasons. Chi Gung can a part of the practice of Tai Ji Chuen, but it is not all there is. There is much more in the practice of a sophisticated and subtle martial method.  


Tai Ji Chi Gung is an exercise program based in Classic Chi Gung (Ch'ih /Qi Gong), mime, dance, yoga, and pilates. As such it emphasizes flexibility, strength, balance, posture, coordination, kinesthetic awareness, mental focus, and relaxation. It uses classic Chi Gung (Ch'ih Gung / Qi Gong) routines: the 10 pieces of Brocade; The Dao-Yin Exercises; Sui-Shou; Ba Gua Chi Gung; The Five Animal Frolics, The Kung Fu Wu; Dragonback Chi Gung; and Circle Walking (also from Ba Gua Zhang). Form work from Tai Ji Chuen is another Chi Gung routine. Standing Post practice and breathing meditation are also part of the curriculum.

   The workout is deceptive, challenging, and dynamic. The method coordinates the breath with movements and isometric (tensing the muscles while holding a position) and kinemetric (tensing the muscles while moving) actions within the movements. The variety of routines works the body and mind in many different ways to create the variety of movement required to maintain and improve health, and develop meditative states.  

   I use the term Tai Ji Chi Gung instead of the "ugly Americanism" (and totally mistaken) appellation Tai Chi. In the first place it is a mispronunciation of the Chinese (Mandarin) transliteration. Secondly it has come to mean Tai Ji Chuen as Chi Gung. Since I consider Tai Ji Chuen to be a marital method, of which Chi Gung is only a part of the practice, I use the term Tai Ji Chi Gung to distinguish the practice as solely Chi Gung. Some people may see this as being fussy and picky, however my experience of Chi Gung as exercise for health and meditative purposes has led to this distinction. The Tai Ji Chuen form is intrinsicly martial techniques, and as such although good exercise, it is somewhat limited in what it does. Exercise should strengthen, stretch, and coordinate the body and mind, and to do such requires a variety of movement, muscular, and mental activities, only a few of which are found in the Tai Ji Chuen form. Any study of the classic Chi Gung routines will reveal this to you.