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What got here first in Tai Chi – the philosophy or the methods?

It’s no secret that Tai Chi is a sequence of circles. The physique opening and shutting utilizing circulation motions, like a yin/yang image in motion. However whenever you have a look at a Tai Chi type, you’ve received to marvel, what got here first, the methods or the philosophy? Was Tai Chi created in a second of philosophical purity and readability, or was the philosophy merely bolted on to current army or self-defence methods (or well-liked actions from theatrical or spiritual rituals) that had been already as previous because the hills?

What I’m questioning is, was there sooner or later a founding father of the artwork who determined, as a place to begin, that he was going to purposely create a martial artwork primarily based totally on a philosophy primarily based on the Tai Chi image, which might be each the overarching precept and the uncooked materials, out of which martial purposes can be original?

Or did the thought of doing issues in circles come later, and get added to current martial methods, and in so doing, alter them eternally?

Nicely, let’s have a look at what we all know as truth.

Truth 1: Tai Chi does certainly comprise nothing however round actions. I’m positive someone someplace can level out a motion in a type that appears linear, however it’s fairly potential that the motion is definitely being created in a round manner, or it has degraded over time into one thing else. All we are able to do right here is speak in broad brush strokes. For those who have a look at a Karate type, or a Tae Kwan Do type you see a number of examples of linear actions, which are normally missing from Tai Chi types. From this we are able to conclude that some form of philosophical concept will need to have been concerned in its creation.

Truth 2: The methods in Tai Chi types look loads like different methods in different Chinese language martial arts types, so aren’t in any manner distinctive. For those who have a look at plenty of types from the Shaolin Temple, or village kinds from throughout China, you see postures and actions which are similar to the methods present in Tai Chi. In a manner, there’s nothing new below the solar.

When fixing a homicide, detectives search for two issues first – alternative and motive.

When Tai Chi first appeared in Beijing within the late nineteenth century it was promoted together with the concept it had a founder, an immortal Taoist known as Chan Sang Feng who had created the artwork primarily based on his remark (or a dream) of a combat between a crane (or presumably stork) and a snake. And whereas sure teams (see my final interview with George Thompson) on Wudang mountain nonetheless take this story very significantly, and presumably actually, trendy scholarship has tended in the direction of the concept it was a preventing artwork from the agricultural countryside (Chen village being the preferred selection for origin) that discovered its solution to Beijing through a younger Yang LuChan, who taught it to these on the highest degree of affect contained in the Forbidden Metropolis.

After all, the shadowy determine of Yang LuChan is rarely adequately defined, and since he was an uneducated no one – a rural rube – no one actually made a file of his existence. The story all people, together with all of the heads of the assorted Tai Chi households, follows, (as a result of it’s the story the Chinese language authorities approves of), is that he realized the artwork in Chen village. However I all the time marvel about that point within the 1860s when Yang and the very nicely educated and vital Wu brothers had been in Beijing, as being a time when Tai Chi might have been invented. The Wu brothers would have identified the philosophy on which to hold it, and Yang would have had the martial expertise to make it work and switch it into one thing that would carry the fractured courtroom of the late Ching Dynasty collectively, bonding over one thing that was basically Chinese language within the face of fixed risk from international powers. Yang and the Wu brothers collectively had each alternative and motive, and no matter whether or not you settle for that interpretation of historical past or not, Tai Chi has been used as a political soccer ever since, particularly by the present authorities to whom Tai Chi (the world’s most practiced marital artwork!) represents the last word type of gentle energy, spreading Chinese language tradition and affect the world over.


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