Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Chuan has a vast history. Rather than attempt to discuss in detail the various lineages and historical perspectives, we hope to provide some general information and share some special facts about our style.
The Tai Chi Chuan form taught in the Cheng Ming martial arts system is derived from the “Orthodox Style” developed in 1929, which is a complete sequence synthesized from the five major schools (family styles) of Tai Chi Chuan. One of the driving goals in developing the “Orthodox Style” was the preservation of the essence of Tai Chi Chuan. Extraneous and inefficient movements or techniques were discarded as the sequence was developed. The resulting form was developed with the intent that every movement, transition and posture possesses a usable martial application and health benefit.
This completed form was presented to the masters and their families to add to as they saw fit and to preserve the form with as many people as possible. Great-Grandmaster Wang Shu Jin was also presented with the completed form, and he changed and enhanced the entire form by blending in techniques from Hsing-I Chuan and Ba Gua Zhang.
The result is our Cheng Ming Tai Chi Chuan that is taught to all our students. Cheng Ming Tai Chi has one-hundred movements and is the foundation for training in Hsing-I Chuan and Ba-Gua Zhang within the Cheng Ming martial arts system.
One of the major goals of Tai Chi Chuan is to circulate the chi throughout the entire body when practicing the Tai Chi form. In this regard, Tai Chi Chuan is the next step in a process first started with Zhan Zhuang. Where Zhan Zhuang focuses on accumulating chi and opening the meridians for improved chi circulation, Tai Chi Chuan actually circulates the chi thereby nourishing the body and mind. This nourishment is beneficial because it balances the body. This is why Tai Chi is referred to the concepts of Yin and Yang. Whenever the body is too much of either Yin or Yang, imbalance is created that can lead to disease of body or mind. In Tai Chi Chuan, circulating chi also means to balance the chi, which in turn nourishes the body and mind. Part of this nourishing process is affected by the slow and open movements of the form, which stretch and gently massage the internal organs, which in turn increases the flow of red blood cells, which is a major factor in nourishing the internal organs and maintaining their proper function.
One of the defining characteristics of Tai Chi Chuan is that it is practiced very slowly. Specifically, when practicing the form from beginning to end, it is done at a slow and steady pace. This fundamental training axiom is what allows the practitioner to express the beauty of the Tai Chi form while simultaneously providing a low-impact method for strengthening the body’s muscular, skeletal, and organ systems.
It is easy to associate descriptions such as “weak”, “passive”, and “slow“ with the fighting prowess of Tai Chi Chuan based on watching the form in practice. To see past this requires a separation of the practice of the form from the application of the form in free fighting.
Tai Chi Chuan is the most defensive of the three internal fighting arts in the Cheng Ming martial arts system. A more pertinent perspective may be to say that it is the least aggressive. In this sense, Tai Chi Chuan can also be described as the “softest” of the three internal martial arts. Tai Chi Chuan fighting techniques are all based on circular motions utilizing various hip/waist movements with an emphasis on deflecting an opponent’s force. The use of slow steady practice in the form allows the practitioner to develop the conditioning necessary to learn to use Tai Chi Chuan fighting techniques effectively in actual free-fighting. When applied in push hands drills and especially free-style push hands, a student begins to see the techniques from the form at work and understand the martial arts value intrinsic in the form.
Tai Chi fighting techniques are trained through a combination of form practice, application drills, and push hands, which itself includes a variety of push hands drills and freestyle push hands.
Tai Chi Chuan offensive techniques often train soft or hidden jing. Defensive techniques train to primarily neutralize an opponent’s power, which is based on two Chinese concepts: Hua Jing and Ting Jing.
Used in combination, one of the most common uses of Tai Chi Chuan fighting is to draw an opponent in order to disrupt their balance and then counterattack.
Another way to describe Tai Chi Chuan is by upper body vs. lower body. In this way, Tai Chi is described as the 8 Techniques and 5 Directions. The 8 Techniques refer to the eight major techniques in the Tai Chi Chuan form, which are: peng, lu, ji, an, tsai, li zuo, and kao. The 5 Directions refer to the orientation of the body throughout the form, which are: front, back, right, left, and center. This is why Tai Chi Chuan was originally called “13 Long Fist Form”.
A major advantage of Cheng Ming Style Tai Chi Chuan is in the flexibility of practicing the form. Our students can practice the whole form in its entirety, or break it down into component sections that can be practiced separately to save time as well as manage energy consumption.