T’ai Chi Ch’uan (also spelt Taijiquan) is an ancient Chinese form of exercise which benefits the lives of its practitioners in a number of ways :
powerful tendons and muscles
load bearing capacity
The reason why Tai Chi is so beneficial is because its founders incorporated
many aspects of traditional Chinese culture into it.
Principles of Chinese
medicine, philosophy, self healing and energy development, self defence and
meditative methods are all included in the practice of Tai Chi.
Tai Chi is a powerful form of Chi Kung (Qigong).
Tai Chi concentrates on developing softness, relaxing the mind and body to
rediscover the source of health in the human body.
Chang San Feng
Chang San Feng was a famous Taoist sage who lived approximately 700 years ago. He was a part of the monastic community at Wu Tang Mountain and inventor of the Wu Tang school of physical culture. He was known as an alchemist, Taoist immortal and the inventor of Tai Chi.
"Aside from being a wise sage, Master Chang is also known as the Father of the 'Grand
Supreme Fist', Tai Chi Chuan. Chang discovered that most Wu Kuen, that is to say martial
forms, were too vigorous and relied too heavily upon the physical strength.
It is told that Master
Chang, ever observant of Nature, once witnessed a combat between a snake and a bird. The
noise of this contest had disturbed the Master's devotions, and venturing forth from his modest
hut, he witnessed the bird to attack the snake. At each pass, the bird fiercely pecked and clawed
at the snake, however, the reptile through suppleness and coiling of his form, was able to avoid
the attacks and launch strikes of his own. The bird in his turn circled and used his wings beat the
snake aside when he struck. Master Chang contemplated upon this experience. That night, as
the Master slept, Yu Huang, the 'Glorious Jade Emperor', visited Chang in his dreams and
instructed him, teaching him the secrets of the Tao that the bird and the snake innately knew.
The next day, Chang sprang up from his sleep, wide awake and inspired by his Celestial Visitor,
immediately set about to create a new Martial Art form that relied upon Internal Power,
or Chi, at its root.
This art held as its foundation the Truth that 'yielding overcomes aggression'
and 'softness overpowers hardness'. In honor of his divine influences,
Chang called his art
Tai Chi Chuan, the 'Grand Supreme Fist'. For this, Master Chang is know as the progenitor
of the Wu Tang Ru (schools), so named because they come from Wu Tang Shan (mountain).
These are the Internal Arts, which are juxtaposed to the External Arts, such as Shao Lin Chuan,
which relies upon the physical mastery of the body and development of great strengths.
- John Hancock, The Mythical Life of Chang San Feng.