World Famous Taiji
Tàijíquán (太极拳) is an ancient Chinese movement and meditation exercise which is well known for its positive health effects. Yang style Taiji, developed by master Yang Luchan, raised this exercise to public awareness.
Our association’s head teacher master Lü Baochun started his Taiji training in 1984. Due to his martial arts background and diligence he was accepted as an indoor student by master Wei Shuren who is widely considered as one of the most skilled Taiji masters of the 20th century.
Taiji In General
Taiji or Taijiquan (Chinese: 太极拳, pīnyīn: Tàijíquán) is an ancient Chinese martial art whose roots are the in early period of the Qing dynasty. Today Taiji is better known as a health promoting meditative exercise which is suitable for everyone regardless of age and gender. The basic exercises of Taiji are the tranquil forms which teach how to relax, improve physical balance, make the body stronger and more flexible and develop the cooperation of the body and the mind. Among other things, Taiji training is a safe and effective way to treat neck and back problems.Show more
The Taiji of the Yang Family
Yang style Taiji (楊氏太极拳 Yángshì Tàijíquán) is them most widespread Taiji style. It is known as a health promoting exercise whose movements are rather easy to learn, which is probably one of the reasons for its popularity. Regardless of the style practised, one should strive for a tranquil way of performing the movements. The training aims at coordinating the whole body and the mind which is rather difficult to learn in fast movement. Slow movement enables more sensitive observation of the body and movement in a new way and enables connecting the movements into whole body movement.
The external appearances of the Chen and Yang styles are different both in the path and rhythm of the movements. The movements in Yang style are performed with an even speed whereas in Chen style the speed varies. Yang style’s movements are circular but more linear compared to Chen style. Yang style can be described as pulling the silk thread as compared to Chen style’s reeling the silk thread.
Taiji’s roots are in the Chen family’s martial art but for those interested in health-oriented training Yang style may be a better choice. For those looking for more complete Taiji training both the Chen and Yang styles, including tuishou pair training are recommended. In tuīshǒu (“push hands”) exercises the practitioners can test their progress and skills. They also serve as a link between form training and combat skill. Qigong exercises can also be used as part of Taiji training.
History of Yang Style
The creator of Yang style Taiji was Yang Luchan (杨露禅) (1799–1872), the first outsider who was accepted as a student to learn the Chen family’s martial art, namely Taiji.Show more
Taijiquan started to spread to the public as Yang Luchan returned to his native area in the Hebei province and started to teach the art. However, he had sworn not to teach the Chen family art to outsiders so he developed his own style which was the basis of Yang style Taiji. Yang Luchan took Taiji to Beijing and all the way to the imperial court and got good reputation for Taiji since he was a very skilled fighter. Yang style was developed to its current form by Yang Luchan’s grandson Yang Chengfu (杨澄甫) (1883–1936) who modified the form. Apart from the original Chen style as well as Zhàobǎo Taiji (趙 堡), all other Taiji styles were developed based on Yang style. The best known are Wǔ (Hǎo) style (武/郝氏), Wú style (吳氏), Sūn style (孫 氏) and Lǐ style (李氏)
This course is for those who are beginning their Taiji training. The emphasis is on learning Taiji basics. The course takes place at the same time with the Yang style secondary course.
This course is for those ready to move on from the beginners’ course but not yet ready for the intermediate level course.
The emphasis on this course is on the three big steps in Taiji training, namely posture, movement and qi energy. On this course the Yang style form is taught up to about half way through.
Learn to Relax
The serene movements of Yang style Taiji help in finding the internal harmonic connection between the body and the mind. The movements resemble the opening and closing of bellows. Listening to ones own breath is in the center of the exercise.
The paths of the movements are flowing and natural. You will learn to know your body better and to recognize and release internal tensions. The exercise takes the mind and body to a natural state and the breathing to rhythm, returning quietness and rest to ones life even among the haste of life. Yang style Taiji exercise provides a nice tool for controlling everyday stress.
Find Your Roots
One of Taiji’s underlying ideas is to make the body function as one unit. It all starts with finding your root, which refers to the natural and strong connection between different parts of the body the spine, the lower back, the pelvic region, the knees and the feet form a “structure” on which the upper body settles and from which it is good to start moving and developing internal power. At first a stable foundation must be built so that gradually on it a building can be erected which stands pressure and the test of time.
Yang Style Taiji Training Invigorates the Mind and Body.
Nowadays many people are forced to slouch in front of a computer for many hours daily. Even at home they spend lots of time curled up either on the couch or (again) in front of a computer. Luckily everyone can improve their health by taking care that the body constantly gets soothing and relaxing exercise. One must also give the mind a chance to detach from the commotion of everyday life and to concentrate on the essential, namely breathing and introspection.
In Chinese medicine and view of the world ‘qi’ refers to vitality. In Yang style Taiji the purpose is to strengthen the flow of qi and to make it flow freely. In this way a person remains in a psycho-physical balance. When the body is stuck or the mind is tense the qi cannot flow freely.
Yang style Taiji is suitable for all regardless of age or physical condition. Exercising coordination, concentration, memory and balance make Yang style Taiji especially valuable for the elderly. Practising Taiji helps to maintain psycho-physical condition regardless of aging.
A Classical Teaching Method
Yang style Taiji teaching follows the classical curriculum based on form traiing and tuishou (“push hands”) training. Master Lü Baochun teaches Yang style’s long form of 85 movements, divided into five sections to help in learning it.Show more
In the beginning the practitioner will move in a stiff way and cannot relax. Later on relaxation will improve and the qi will flow more freely. Internal power starts to develop in the movements and it can later be taken into use in self defense or combat techniques. However, in Yang style Taiji we concentrate on observing our bodies and minds and fighting is not emphasized apart from the life-long battle against ourselves.
Form training creates the basis for pair training where cooperation is emphasized over competition. The underlying idea is that by practising together we can help each other’s progress.
All of Taiji’s “secrets” can be found through form training and verified and checked through pair training. In addition, throughout history, some qigong and meditation exercises have been included in the Taiji curriculum, for example zhan zhuang standing meditation. These were not a part of the original training method. They can help one’s internal training but they are not mandatory for making progress in Taiji.
In practising the Taiji forms, slow and tranquil movement is not an end in itself. Slow movement is soothing and sensitizes to observe ones body and movement in a new way and gradually enables the unification of the movement of the whole body.Show more
It is good to understand that although the external appearance of form training does not change much as one progresses, the contents actually change quite a bit. In the beginning one learns the correct external movement with a connected body. Later the internal (energy) training begins and as one progresses even further, Taiji becomes a practise of the mind. All of this happens within the framework of the same Taiji form.
Training With a Partner
The two person tuishou training starts with single hand, fixed step exercises, where the praticioners’ hands are in contact and they take turns in softly pushing (“attacking”) each other while the receiver directs the incoming power to the side and then proceeds to push or “attack”.Show more
The purpose is to keep the movement continuous and uninterrupted by using the same principles that are practised in form training. From single hand exercises one proceeds to two hand exercises which later progess to moving step drills. After obtaining the basics through these prearranged, fixed exercises, we move on to free tuishou where the attacking side usually uses some power and the receiving side will strive to handle it using the Taiji method.
A New Hobby Or a Way of Life?
Taiji training is relaxing and at the same time develops concentration. It supports in controlling everyday stress; the exercise will make you a more down to earth person. Taiji helps in releasing pressure and in accessing deeper levels of the body and the mind. Although many of our members take Taiji training rather seriously, you can define your own path: training in Baji Association is a fun and energizing way to maintain and develop the health of the body, mind and spirit.
Taiji’s symbol: Taijitu, or Yin-Yang
“Opposite forces complete each other in mutual harmony”
Yang style Taiji is an excellent tool for improving body awareness, for rehabilitating and strengthening the body as well as for calming the mind.
Hence anyone regardless of age or physical condition gains benefits from training Taiji. Many people have found relief for their old sports injuries in Yang style Taiji. For those who are experienced in martial arts Yang style Taiji can offer a way to deepen their skills and knowledge.
Keep Your Mind Under Control
Yang style Taiji increases awareness about the functioning of the body and improves self confidence and balance. It offers a fascinating tool, a movement meditation method with which to investigate the cooperation of the body and the mind in movement.