The art of balance
Supreme ultimate fist

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What is taijiquan?

Taijiquan is a style of martial art once practiced by the Manchu Emperor's elite palace guards.
There are 4 traditional styles of taijiquan: Chen, Yang, Wu and Hao.

The art is quietly challenging; requiring patience, hard work, commitment, mindfulness and composure.
Students work towards the cultivation of a high degree of physical skill and can reasonably expect to practice the art for most of their lives.

Supreme ultimate fist

The martial art of taijiquan uses the yin/yang concept in combat.
Taiji means supreme ultimate (the Balance). Quan means fist (combat/martial art).

Yang style has something of the feeling of 'killer energy' about it; it is more martial in appearance.
A spectator can see the applications of the movements when they watch the form.

(Master Xu Shu Song)

Yang the invincible

The Yang style of taijiquan was developed by martial art legend Yang Lu-chan.
Yang Lu-chan's nickname was 'Yang-the-Invincible'.


The combat methods and principles behind taijiquanhave been a well-kept secret in China for hundreds of years.
Very few members of t
he general public understand how to use taijiquanas a martial art.
Schools offering the complete taijiquan martial syllabus are rare in the UK.

Does taijiquan combat take place in slow motion?

To quote The Tai Chi Classics: "If the opponent's movement is quick, then quickly respond; if his movement is slow, then follow slowly."

Some of the training methods (i.e. form) are slow; this is to develop strength, accuracy, balance and control.
New skills are often slowed down for safety until the student gains familiarity.

As the student becomes adept, the martial art speeds up considerably.
Combat is usually fast.

Martial skill

In combat, taijiquan uses evasion, stickiness and sensitivity rather than brute force.
The muscles remain relaxed at all times and the body moves as one whole unit (neigong).

There are many taijiquan martial skills in the syllabus, including:

  1. Shuai jiao (take downs)

  2. Chin na (seizing)

  3. Jing (internal power)

  4. San sau (fixed sets)

  5. San da (freeform combat)

  6. Form application

  7. Weapons

  8. Self defence

Even though many of these skills are common to different styles of martial art, a taijiquan student must perform them in a taijiquan way.
This means that the essence must be true.
The application of taijiquan always follow the guidelines presented in The Tai Chi Classics.

Healthy combat

Every martial artist in the world seeks to defeat their opponent in combat.
But at what price?
Blocking, struggling, forcing, striking a balanced opponent... these are also harmful to your own body.
In defeating your opponent you may also harm yourself.

Taijiquan is different.
All movements are performed in a manner that ensures the greatest effect for the least amount of effort.
The internal martial arts aim to incapacitate the opponent without sustaining any injury to yourself.

Is taijiquan easy to learn?

As a form of exercise taijiquan is quite gentle.
It does not strain the body and no one should be sweating.
The challenge lies with coordination, balance, focus and memory.

Performing the art skilfully is not so easy.
A high degree of awareness, biomechanical skill and physical sensitivity must be cultivated.
This requires time, patience and regular practice.

It is not about anger, it is about peace.
It is not about power, it is about grace.
It is not about knowing your enemy, it is all about knowing yourself.

(Bulletproof Monk)

Everyday benefits

Taijiquan is not just about combat.
The art offers a wide range of benefits that will affect your everyday life:

Get fit
Increased stamina and endurance
Gain functional combat skills that rely upon intelligence rather than brutality
The release of deeply-held muscular tension   
Boost energy
Improved balance
A way to use millennia old Chinese wisdom in everyday life  
An unusual form of strength
 Emotional composure in the face of confrontation and crisis
Philosophical study involving some of the most influential books ever written 
Cultivate confidence and resourcefulness

Page created 11 January 1993
Last updated 09 June 2019