The Zen of Taijiquan

When people think of taijiquan — as a martial art or as a spiritual discipline — the first association is with the principles of the Tao. The classics of Taoism are tai chi chuan’s philosophical foundation, and without them, any consideration of our beloved art is missing its most essential cornerstone.

Zen and Taijiquan

The history of Taoism and Zen (Cha’an in China) are intertwined in too many ways to count, but for the sake of the Zen of this article … we’ll save the history lesson for another time.

As I have heard from one of my teachers:

“All explanations are wrong. Correct taijiquan is a feeling.”

It is here, at this intersection of feeling & explanation, that I would like to examine the “Zen” of Taijiquan.

As I understand it, Zen, too, is a feeling.

I have heard it referred …

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Guo Shilei Taijiquan Lecture Series - Part One

Who is Guo Shilei (郭石磊) … and where’d he get his ill gongfu skillz?* (See videos for proof)

According to an excellent interview available on his own site … Guo Shilei began his deeper studies into the Chinese Internal Martial Arts (CIMA) when he was 15. That is when he met his teacher, who is the renowned Shi Chongying (石崇英), a 6th generation inheritor of Ma Weiqi style Bagua as well as a 7th generation inheritor of Yang style taiji. Guo’s own words express his relationship to his teacher the best:

“When I was 15 I met my teacher Shi Chongying and, thinking that my iron arm was already …

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Intention and Attention: The Alchemical Formula in Taijiquan - Pt. 1

Since our birth as a species, mankind has actively pursued a peculiar form of conscious evolution … different from the animal, plant, and mineral kingdoms … in that we uniquely aspire to become Something Greater.

Intention & Attention: The Alchemy of the Human Brain in TaijiquanIntention & Attention: The Alchemy of the Human Brain in Taijiquan

Whether it be approaching the Divine, a Creator, Mother Nature, the Tao, or simply Greater Knowledge, Wealth, Fame, or Status … human beings are a group of unusually aspirant & ambitious creatures. It is our every intention to be Greater than we are … and one way or another our attention tends to settle on the path we …

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Tai Chi Movements: Fu Zhongwen's Traditional Yang Style Taijiquan

Fu Zhongwen (1903-1994) is one of the most renowned, accomplished, and important figures for today’s Yang style taijiquan (and for the world tai chi community in general).

Fu ZhongwenFu Zhongwen Yang Style Taijiquan

Zhongwen was born in the village of Guanfu in Yong Nian County, Hebei Province … the birthplace of Yang Lu Chan & the cradle of Yang style taijiquan. Grandmaster Fu was apprenticed to Yang Lu Chan’s most famous grandson, Yang Chengfu, at the tender age of 9 (in 1913). It was with Great Grandmaster Yang Chengfu that Zhongwen travelled around china, to Hong Kong, Tianjing, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Beijing, and more. During these travels, Yang Chengfu would teach & Fu Zhongwen would demonstrate. Fu Zhongwen would also …

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Study Guide to Taijiquan Fajin (Fa Chin ... or 'Fa Jing') - Part Two

The most popular topic of reading & discussion on this website is tai chi “fajing” (a technically incorrect spelling / concept). As such, I am going to build & refine this extensive online fajin study guide, for my fellow taijiquan enthusiasts to consider and comment.

Before I provide some of my own analysis on several fajin demos of accomplished taijiquan masters … we need to review the basics.

Cheng Man Ching's Fajin (or "Fajing")

The Basics of Taiji Fajin

First of all, the “correct” translation would be taiji fajin (pinyin) … tai chi fa chin (Wade-Giles) … or 太極發勁 (Mandarin).

I get the impression — quite often — that many western taiji practitioners feel that “fa jin” is …

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"Internal" Power vs. "External" Power

This debate will probably never end … and the question will probably never be fully answered:

What exactly is the difference between the internal and external martial arts?

While I certainly can provide no definitive answer, I thought it might be helpful to share a bit of what I’ve learned in my experience with the Chinese internal martial arts, and particularly the distinction between jìn (勁) and lì (力).

First of all, an important linguistic note from native Chinese speaker & master taijiquan practitioner, Zhang Yun’s article on Li & Types of Jin in Taijiquan.

“In everyday usage, both of these words mean physical force, and can be used interchangeably. Very often, people use jin to denote a very large force.

In martial art, these are technical terms with more precise definitions. Li is simple muscular force, what we call “untrained force”, …

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Chen Yu Taijiquan Yong Fa (Chen Yu Tai Chi Applications)

Everyone in the world of taiji quan must show respect & admiration to Chen style tai chi. As the forebear of taijiquan (by many historical accounts), Chen family Patriarch Chen Wang Ting was perhaps the originator of tai chi as we know it. The Chen family “cannon fist” style, and its unique development of a specific kind of internal power, has evolved over the last 500 years into the many various styles of tai chi as we recognize them today.

Chen Wang Ting Statue

<<< Chen family patriarch Chen Wang Ting (1580–1660) >>>

While there are many parallel stories of the development of taijiquan, all the modern styles of taijiquan officially or unofficially credit the Chen family style as their …

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