By: Dr Paul Lam © Copyrights Tai Chi Productions 2007
Excerpts have been taken from Dr Paul Lam “History of Tai Chi”. Go to the website to read the full article.
Tai Chi is one of the best known martial arts of the Internal systems from ancient China. Based on Qigong and martial art techniques from thousands of years ago, Chen Wangting developed the Chen Style Tai Chi around 1670. It is characterised by contrasting and complimentary movements-slow and soft versus fast and hard. It contains explosive power and low stances. Chen style is more difficult and physically demanding than Sun style; thus it is not the best style to start with if you have arthritis.
Yang Lu-chan learned Tai Chi from the Chen village. He later modified it with higher stances, gentle and slow movements, making it much more suitable for more people.
From Yang and Chen style, three other major styles developed – Wu, Hao, and Sun. Each of these styles share similar essential principles, but contain different features and characteristics. Sun, the latest style, is most suitable for people with arthritis.
The essential principles of Tai Chi are based on the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism, which stresses the natural balance in all things and the need for living in spiritual and physical accord with the patterns of nature. According to this philosophy, everything is composed of two opposite, but entirely complementary, elements of yin and yang, working in a relationship which is in perpetual balance. Tai Chi consists of exercises equally balanced between yin and yang, which is why it is so remarkably effective.
Yin and yang are polar opposites and are found in all things in life. In nature, everything tends toward a natural state of harmony. Likewise, yin and yang are always in total balance. Concepts such as soft, pliant, yielding and feminine are associated with yin, while concepts such as hard, rigid and masculine are associated with yang. Both sides complement each other completely and together form a perfect whole. Things which are perfectly balanced and in harmony are at peace; being at peace leads naturally to longevity. A perfectly harmonized person will show this balance and completeness by his or her tranquility and peacefulness of mind.
Wu Style (also known as Hao Style)
There are some Chinese words which have entirely different meanings but share a similar sound; therefore their Pinyin spellings are the same. This “Wu” is different from the next Wu Style in Chinese. It is also known as Hao Style. It was created by Wu Yuxiang (1812-1880), and passed on to Hao Weizheng (1849-1920), who significantly contributed to the style.Hao is not a well-known style. Its creators had studied both the Yang and Chen Style. Hao is characterised by slow and internally loose movements, which are close-knit in outward appearance. Great emphasis is placed on internal force and correct positioning. External movements and the transference of the substantial and insubstantial are controlled by internal power. When looking at a high-level practitioner performing the Hao style, it appears larger and more rounded, as though it’s inner power has extended further than the outward physical shape.
Wu Quan-you (1834-1902), and later his son Wu Jian-quan (1870-1942), created this other Wu Style; it is characterised by softness and emphasis on redirecting incoming force. It is rich with hand techniques. Wu style tends to have a slightly forward leaning posture. The advantage of the Wu Style is that it is pleasant to look at, and is rich in techniques.
Sun style is the youngest of the major styles. It was created by Sun Lu-tang (1861-1932). Sun was a well-known exponent of the Xingyiquan and Baguaquan (two famous internal martial art styles) before he learned Tai Chi. In 1912, Sun happened to run into Hao Weizheng (see Hao style), who was sick. Without knowing who Hao was, Sun kindly took care of him by finding him a hotel and a doctor. After Hao recovered from his illness, he stayed in Sun’s house to teach him Tai Chi.
Sun later created his own style which is characterised by agile steps. Whenever one foot moves forward or backwards the other foot follows. Its movements flow smoothly like a river, and there is a powerful Qigong exercise whenever the direction is changed. Sun Style has high stances.The unique Qigong in Sun style brings great internal power, like water in the river, beneath the calm surface there is immense power within the current. This power is especially effective for healing and relaxation; its higher stances make it easier for older people to learn. It is also compact, not requiring a large space in which to practice. Sun has so much depth that it holds learners’ interest as they progress.
All Tai Chi for Health Programs by my team contains movements in Sun style for its efficacy and safety. The flow of Qi is an enjoyable feeling that a practitioner acquires more quickly from learning this style.
There are many more Tai Chi styles and forms in addition to the ones mentioned above. The numerous styles and forms of Tai Chi can be overwhelming to beginners and advanced practitioners alike. Readers should view the many forms as an opportunity to make choices, rather than as an array of confusion.
Tai Chi can be simple and easy if you define your aims and objectives. For example, if you wish to learn Tai Chi solely for its health benefits (instead of self-defense), learning the Tai Chi for Arthritis program with the 12 movement set is simple and effective. Over a million people by 2007 has enjoyed learning this set and gained health benefits.
Since the 19th century, the Chinese have understood the immense health benefits of Tai Chi, and its popularity has grown steadily. Now, Tai Chi is practised in almost every corner of the world. It is one of the most popular exercises today with more than 300 million participants.As we are surviving longer than our ancestors, chronic diseases such as arthritis and diabetes affect more of us, diminishing the quality of our lives. Increasing scientific and epidemiological evidence indicates that exercise is essential for prevention and management of these chronic diseases. Many studies have shown Tai Chi can deliver many health benefits.
The popularity of Tai Chi will take another quantum leap as more people experience its enjoyment and benefits.
A wise human once said “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. “
Dr Paul Lam Presentation at the Australasia Society of Lifestyle Medicine Annual Conference 2016
Published on 30 Nov 2016
Synopsis below. Please note that because of the intensity at that time during the conference, the chair person decided to have delegates standing and exercise before my presentation. I took the opportunity to bring the “Let’s try it” segment forward before I start the presentation.
Tai Chi: an ideal evidence-based approach for mental and physical health
• What are Tai Chi for Health programs?
• The evidence
• The reasons for world wide support including CDC, NSW and other state health departments
• Let us try a taste of Tai Chi for Health.
“All health departments in Australia have funded and implemented the programs in collaboration with Tai Chi for Health Institute. Many health professionals including lifestyle medicine practitioners, physiotherapists and OTs have been working closely with the Institute and respective health departments”
USA National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine
U.S. Administration for Community Living Falls Prevention Grantee
Tai Chi for Arthritis Information and Guidance (The purpose of this document is to provide information and guidance regarding Tai Chi for Arthritis U.S. Administration for Community Living falls prevention grantees.)”…Fidelity in Tai Chi for Arthritis is achieved by the availability of DVDs and text book to review techniques, skill building workshops, instructor support by senior and master trainers, and instructor certification updates every two years.”
“Go forth and Tai Chi for Health” Mike Soric Master Trainer
Dear Julie. Your vision to share Tai Chi for Health to all your students, participants, friends and family is very contagious and aligns very well with the vision of the Tai Chi for Health Institute of helping to empower others to improve their own health and wellbeing. Your hard work in preparing for the Tai Chi for Health gentle exercise program [Tai Chi for Arthritis for Falls Prevention Instructor/Leader] was very evident. You brought with you a vast and diverse range of skills and life’s experiences that you were eager to share with the workshop group. We are all the better for it, thank you. I hope that we will continue to work together into the long [interesting] future to continue to share the benefits of Tai Chi for Health for everyone. Tai Chi should never be something that is exclusive and together we can help people find ways to modify tai chi forms/movements that will allow everyone to be able to work within their own ‘Comfort Zone’ and slowly gain the many benefits for themselves. It was my pleasure to work closely with both you and Yoshi on this project and thank you again for helping to make it all possible in Cairns. I am already planning another workshop towards the end of 2017 for the Cairns/Tableland area … best wishes and much appreciation for your enthusiasm, Mike Soric your friend and colleague. … P.S. “Go forth and Tai Chi for Health” Mike Soric Master Trainer