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The History Of Tai Chi Chuan


The source of Tai Chi Chuan is to be found within Nei Jia Chuan. Nei means inner or internal. Jia means family, house or home, school or discipline. Chuan stands for fist, boxing, martial arts (the use of fists and other body parts for fighting)

Nei Jia Chuan literally means the internal school of Chinese martial arts. Nei stands in polarity to Wai. Nei Jia Chuan, the internal school, stands in polarity to the external school Wai Jia Chuan, a school in which muscle power and the use of jumps form the most important aspects of the art. The term Nei Jia Chuan stems from the Ming period (1368­-1644) and has continued to develop itself into present day.

From Nei Jia Chuan three disciplines emerge: Tai Chi Chuan, Pa Kua Chang, Hsing Yo Chuan. The Nei Jia Chuan expert Huang Bojia documented his techniques in 1677.

By the beginning of the Ch’ng dynasty (1644­-1911/12), during the second half of the 17th century, the withdrawn Chen Wangting from Chenjiagou, developed a martial arts which was based on techniques which were known within military circles during the Ming dynasty. It is extremely possible that the famous Shaolin Chuan from his area made a certain impact on not only these military techniques, but, on his own methods as well. Chen’s worldview was strongly influenced by Taoism and perhaps by Taoist practitioners. Chen’s descendants passed this martial art down, with individual variations, to the end of the 18th century.

In the first half of the 19th century, Chen Changxing taught a renewed martial art. He took on Yang Luchan as a disciple. Yang Luchan developed his own method based upon the foundations of the Chen tradition. This system was apparently very successful within the marital community in the capital and shook the established order. His growing reputation and his teaching placed him at the ground level of spreading what has since become the most popular form of Chinese martial arts. The descendants of Chen martial arts, around the late 19th or early 20th century, acquired a new name: Tai Chi Chuan.

At about 1925 Yang Chengfu’s disciple, Chen Weiming, began giving instruction in Shanghai. The first standard set of Yang Tai Chi Chuan was developed by Yang Chengfu in 1929.

In the 1950’s of the People’s Republic great effort was exercised toward the popularisation of Tai Chi Chuan and with the introduction of the modern posture form (1956) there remained little to nothing over of the hereditary martial arts techniques; transforming it into a gymnastics exercise with an oriental sauce.

De culturele revolutie (1966-1976) heeft het laatste sloopwerk van de traditionele krijgskunst verricht. Zeer veel kennis is verloren gegaan en de moderne Yangstijl van 24 bewegingen is de standaard geworden.

During the past two decades the old traditions and their forms have been actively sought after in China.

Tai Chi Nederland gives instruction in the traditional Yang Style, as it was recorded in the 1920’s.


Qi Gong

In China there are different views about the content of the term Qi Gong. Some see Qi Gong as a catch­all term for numerous practices which train the body and mind by way of what in China is known as “chi”. Others keep the content very limited and label Qi Gong as Chinese exercises to improve health.

If we take the term in its broader meaning and look at the techniques which can be included, then, it must be noted that many hundreds of practices can be placed into this denomination. A number of these trainings came out of religious and philosophical environments. Practitioners of the martial arts often wanted nothing more from Qi Gong than to achieve a degree of invulnerability or superior power through the trainings. Trainings meant to harden the body against (unarmed or armed) attacks, are considered Qi Gong, as well.

Between the Chi ­trainings of the fighters and the Qi Gong of the philosophers stretches a broad gap. The intentions differ, the techniques differ. The fighters have no idea of what the philosophers and the religious mean with Chi and vice versa.

The Chinese term Qi Gong is composed of Chi and Gong. The character Gong means training, practice, especially knowledge (from practice, hard work and long term development). There are many possible translations for Chi, in different contexts the word takes on different meanings. Therefore it can be translated as breath, life energy, vapors, etc. For the Chinese philosopher, Chi was present in everything and everyone. In all which happens, Chi is in action.

Qi Gong includes the learning of control and application of Chi such as which is active in the entire cosmos. Qi Gong is the knowledge, obtained through training, of how to handle Chi, the knowledge of and from Chi.

Ancient wisdom says: self­knowledge is the beginning of all wisdom.

At Tai Chi Nederland Qi Gong is practised for: ­
– increased suppleness
– mental and physical control
– to move from taking breath to breathing

 In the text, use is made of the academic research of the history of Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong by Dr. Dan Vercammen.