Taijiquan (tai chi chuan) translates as yang and yin boxing, a name which reveals its martial origins. It's the most well known of all the Chinese internal arts, justly famous for enhancing health, relaxation and vitality.
Many tai chi players in the modern world are more interested in its numerous health enhancing characteristics than self defence, which is understandable. But tai chi self defence, which develops from tui shao (push hands) practice, when taught as partner work in a safe and friendly environment, can be great fun and very relaxing and should form an integral part of Taiji training.
Tai chi originated in Chenjiagou, Heibei Province at the end of the Ming Dynasty. The Chen style of taiji features a unique spiralling energy known as chan si, silk reeling. Beginners forms are stately and graceful, very enjoyable to learn and practice. More advanced students practice weapons routines and the pao choi (cannon fist). All forms, basic or advanced, concentrate on relaxation, correct posture, whole body integration and a good flow of energy.
It's important to recognise the various stages of learning tai chi:
1. Learn the moves. 2. Get more detail - better posture, more relaxation, correct energy. 3. Work on the flow. This sequence cannot be skipped over or tampered with!
Elaine Tattersall has studied Chen Taiji with Julian Wilde since 1992.
and with Grandmaster Chen Xiao Wang, the head of the Chen family, on many occasions.