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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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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"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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Tai Chi Movements - Wudang Taiji 13

This is a very interesting form indeed. Supposedly created by the somewhat mythological figure, Zhang Sanfeng (Chang San Feng), the Wudang Taiji 13 Posture Form is the form practiced at the Wudang mountain (and several other Taoist monasteries). The first two videos are of master Yuan Xiu Gang, who you can schedule a trip to study with at his website:

Wu Dang Gong Fu. He has many foreign students, and seems very friendly.

The third video is master Zhong Yun Long.

The final video is master Chen Shixing.

You can actually study this Wudang taiji in Los Angeles if you are so inclined. If anyone does, we’d love to hear about your experiences.

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