Tucson Taiji

Introduction to Chen Family Taijiquan


What is Taijiquan?

Taijiquan (or just taiji) is a Chinese martial art practiced today at least as much for its health benefits as for its martial application.


Is there a difference between taijiquan (taiji) and t'ai chi ch'uan (t'ai chi)?

These are exactly the same terms. They are pronounced the same and represent the same characters (太极拳). "Taiji" is written in the phonetic system used in China proper (pinyin). "T'ai chi" is written in the phonetic system used in Taiwan (Wade-Giles).


Why is this called Chen Family Taijiquan?

There are five main schools or styles of taijiquan - Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu/Hao, and Sun. Chen style is arguably the oldest of them. Chen taijiquan was passed down through the generations of the Chen family based in the family village, Chenjiagou, in Henan, China (河南温县陈家沟). Chen Wangting (ca. 1650) is said to be the founder of Chen Family Taijiquan.


What are the main benefits of practicing taiji?

As a general description, I like Master Chen Yu's comment about taijiquan and life. He said, "I think Life is in movement. So, when you are moving, if you are practicing taijiquan you are nourishing Life." Chen Yu's statement

On the physical side, Taiji has been reported to be good for general conditioning, core strength, and balance. On the mental side, taiji is said to improve concentration and focus as well as having a calming effect. Many people consider the practice of taijiquan to be a sort of moving meditation. As a martial art, taijiquan trains one to move from the center, relying on technique and proper body mechanics rather than brute force to neutralize and counter aggressive moves of an opponent.


Is there a philosophy associated with taijiquan?

Taijiquan is said to be based on Daoist (Taoist) philosophy, in particular the principle of Yin-Yang, the unity of opposites. Its movements and techniques are often described by taiji practitioners in terms from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Taiji Tu
The familiar symbol representing the Yin-Yang philosophy is actually called the "Taiji Symbol" (Chinese: 太极图 tàijítú).

What is required to practice taiji?

Really the only requirements are patience and a desire to learn. Many, if not most, taijiquan practitioners see its practice as a life-long endeavor. The focus then is on the process of continually improving one's practice rather than having fixed goals.


How is Chen Family Taijiquan different from the other styles?

The type of taiji that has been most popular, at least up until quite recently, is Yang style which consists almost entirely of slow movements. In contrast, Chen taiji has mixed in some explosive movements called "fa jin". Also, Chen taiji emphasizes practicing the fundamental movements called "silk reeling", the principles of which are the basis of all the movements in Chen taiji.


Who is Chen Xiaowang?

Chen Xiaowang World Taijiquan Association

Chen Xiaowang is a grand master of taijiquan. He is a 19th generation descendant of the Chen family of Chenjiagou. He has been designated by the Chinese government as one of the "Four Tigers" of Chen-style taijiquan, the others being Chen Zhenglei, Wang Xi'an, and Zhu Tiancai.

Here is an excerpt from a Chen Xiaowang instructional video.