All Tai Chi systems are NOT the same. In fact there are only two authentic forms of Tai Chi.
a) The Original “Old Style” Yang Lu-ch’an Tai Chi Chuan (Originally called H’ao Chu’an or Loose Boxing)
b) Yang Cheng-Fu (This style was created by one of the grandsons of Lu-Ch’an when he changed it from the original Old Style to make Tai Chi more accessible to all people, ages and levels of health. Cheng-Fu, which was the grandson’s name, stated that to change the form anymore than he did would cause disaster.)
To understand what makes a Tai Chi system “authentic” you will have to spend time studying the subject.
For starters, virtually anyone can make claims of how their system is supposedly more “authentic” than others. But I’m not interested in battles between egos. What matters is what’s best for the people. So, let me quickly interject one KEY reason on how to identify an authentic Tai Chi system.
The movements in an authentic Tai Chi MUST follow the Horary cycle sequence (or 24 Hour Qi Flow Cycle). To do otherwise creates energy (Qi) imbalance. Thus, incorrect forms of Tai Chi utilize incorrect series of physical (kinetic) movements, which in turn stimulate certain meridians out of their proper sequence.
Incorrect systems of Tai Chi have either pieced together movements from an authentic Tai Chi and placed then out of order. Or they have created entirely new movements, or a combination therein. Either way, to follow an incorrect system of Tai Chi is ultimately disastrous, just like Cheng-Fu said.
For more on how to distinguish between authentic vs. inauthentic Tai Chi visit the “Articles” section at www.taichiworld.com. Ultimately though the deciding factor is not intellectual but through direct practice.
Here is a list of what we teach at Park’s Martial Arts and what is involved in learning the Complete System of Tai Chi Chuan:
- Old Yang Style Tai Chi form. This form IS Tai Chi and will be the core of your training. On average a student learns one or two techniques of this form per class since details are so important.
- Health and Meditative benefits are introduced but are not fully realized until a certain degree of proficiency. One such health approach is to learn the standing 3-Circle Qigong method as this posture introduces proper energy or Qi flow to the body quicker than accessing Qi through the “Old Yang Style” form. As the student advances in their form and training more in depth techniques and understandings are taught.
- Fa-Jing striking and kicking with pads. (Without mastering fa-jing, which literal translates as “explosive power”, your attack/defense techniques will be limited in there effectiveness.)
- Single & Double Push Hands are interactive routines that help the student to understand experientially the martial art aspects of nei chia (or internal style) martial arts; leverage, reflex, sensitivity, timing, coordination and positioning.
- Chee Sau (Tai Chi “sticky hands”) teaches similar goals to push hands but utilizes a different approach.
- Pauchui or “Cannon Fist Form” & Small San-Sau or “a Style of Free Hands” are routines that one can perform by themselves or with a partner. They teach the student how to defend themselves using the techniques found in the Tai Chi form.
- Large San-Sau is a more advance method of San-Sau.
- Da-Lu techniques teach one how to move correctly and change directions while attacking and defending.
- Dim-Mak is a very advance level of Tai Chi where one learns how to attack pressure/vital points to control or incapacitate an opponent. Most people don’t realize that authentic Tai Chi is one of the world’s most deadly martial arts.
- Tai Chi Weapons are introduced to advanced practitioners and can consist of short stick, long pole, knife, sword work. In short, the weapon becomes an extension of the body and flows utilizing the movements and principles found in Tai Chi.
NOTE: Although it is recommended that one learn the entire Tai Chi system some people are only interested in the “health” benefits. This is understandable and we will always welcome these students at Park’s Martial Arts where we can certainly assist them fully.