HISTORY – ORIGINS OF TAI CHI CHUAN
There are several legends about the origins of this exercise or martial art because, as its own name (Great Last Fist) indicates , it is one of the most efficient defense systems known by mankind. One of the three legends tells us that by the end of the SUNG Dynasty, 800 years ago a manufacturer of an elixir, by the name of Zhang Sang Fen lived in the Wu Bana mountain .
One night, this hermit dreamt that Xuan Wu, the Black Emperor, revealed to him a form of combat through which he had killed one hundred bandits by himself.
Xuan Wu was a Taoist divinity linked to the North and to the Polar Star, place to which Tai Chi Chuan is traditionally oriented, and pilgrims often went to the Wu Dang mountain to visit this divinity. Due to its origin, this art is deemed to be a divine sport.
Another legend tells us that the same Taoist monk was present during a fight that took place between a serpent and a crane. The latter was attacking incessantly with strength and decision, while the serpent softly avoided its deathly attacks. Finally, the bird had to give up because its foe’s relaxed movements did not offer direct resistance, but allowed to counter attack as swiftly as lightening.
This singular combat inspired Zhang Sang Fen to create a Martial Art which basic principles would be to subdue vigorous movements, substituting them by soft ones, adapting one’s own style to the style of the others and to through down a five hundred kilogram weight with four ounces.
The existing historical data seem to indicate that TaiChi-Chuan originated or at least, developed in the province of Henan , within the Chen Family, some three hundred years ago .
It is generally accepted that this Chen style, also known as Lao Jia or “Old Structure” is the primary one from which all the others came .
Its main characteristic is a mixture of vigorous and soft movements which, in their circular path end up being explosive manifestations of power.
From the Chen style the Yang style was born, the latter being the most popular of the Tai-Chi styles.
Its founder , Yang Lu Chan (1799-1872) who was born in the Hebei province and studied in the Chen Clan introduced it in Beijing in 1852. Since then, it was extended throughout the whole country .
This expansion was also due to the fact that Yang Lu Chang had the reputation of being an invincible fighter and traveled throughout China challenging the most famous Kung-Fu fighters of his time.
His objective, which was to make Tai-Chi-Chuan popular, was really achieved by his grandson, Yang Cheng Fu (1883-1936) who eliminated the swift and brisk movements from its style so it could be practiced by children and old people.
This is the way in which the Yang style reached us, as a school of slow and smooth movements, and wide and natural positions. It is the Da Jia or Great Structure school.
Perhaps this was the moment when TaíChi’ stopped being practiced by some people in the form of a martial art and started being practiced as a discipline with therapeutic effects.
Other Known Styles of Tai-Chi-Chuan are: The Wu style made popular by Wu Jian Quan (1870-1942) and known as ” Middle Structure” because it employs moderate positions and flexible movements. Wu Jian Quan was one of Yang Lu Chan’s students
Another Wu style developed by Wu Yu Xiang (this Wu is written different), also known as the or “ Small Structure ” or Hao style, because it was disseminated by Hao Weizhen, Wu Yu Xiang’s student. The Wu style is known for its circular, narrow movements .
Lastly, the Sun style, better known as Huobu Jia or “Live Steps” structure, developed by o Sun Lu Tang a disciple of Hao Weitzhen, whose movements are fast and in which feet are very active.
The Great Master Zheng Man Qing (Ch’eng Man-ching)