classes     qigong     tai chi     kung fu     about us     reviews     a-z


Authenticity is concerned with being able to prove that something is genuine, real, bona fide, of undisputed origin.

Research could save you time & money

A would-be student should take the time to learn a little more about tai chi before attending a class. Do a little research. The time spent will be worthwhile.
You do not want to waste years of your life learning something useless...

What makes tai chi 'tai chi'?

Slow motion movement, chilled out exercise or dance cannot be considered tai chi. Tai chi is more than this. It adheres to certain parameters, guidelines and rules of practice.

Is shibashi 'tai chi'?

No. Shibashi is a form of qigong, often erroneously to referred to as tai chi. Shibashi does not conform to The Tai Chi Classics.

Tai chi chuan or tai chi for health?

What is the difference between tai chi chuan/taijiquan and tai chi for health? Tai chi chuan is a style of fighting. Tai chi for health is a non-martial health exercise adapted from tai chi chuan.

Tai chi is an art where all the principles of other martial arts have been turned upside down.
They practice fast, we practice slow.
They practice hard, we practice soft.

(Cheng Man Ching)

The real deal

Although many classes claim to be teaching tai chi, very few are. In order for the art to qualify as tai chi, it must adhere to the essence of the art:

  1. Move your body in accord with The Tai Chi Classics 

  2. Train all 13 areas of study

  3. Follow Yang's 10 Essentials

  4. Maintain medically-sound body use

  5. Functionally apply the art in a skilful 'tai chi' way

  6. Employ the tai chi principles at all times

  7. Embody the teachings of Taoism

  8. 13 methods should be made manifest at all times

  9. Every movement is a whole-body movement

Providing these criteria are met, you have an immense degree of freedom for personal expression and individual interpretation.

The teacher

Every tai chi teacher possesses an in-depth grasp of the art. They know all about tai chi, Taoism, The Tai Chi Classics, neigong, jing, principles, martial applications, adult learning and The Art of War.
An instructor can readily interweave lessons from Taoism, tai chi, life and cognition in an insightful, thought-provoking way.


The extent of a teacher's knowledge should be evident in their comprehensive syllabus and their scheme of work. Ask to see this before stepping foot in the training hall.

The way most people do tai chi, it's not a martial art. They could never use it the way they're doing it. Everything's in their hands, they just fill in the rest with fantasy talk.

(Paul Gale)


If you want to find the origin of tai chi, begin with the ancient Chinese study of existence known as 'Taoism'.

What is Taoism?

Taoism is not a religion in the formal sense. It is concerned with the observation of life, of nature and then the literal application of insights gleaned through seeing and contemplating what took place.

There are 3 main books to read:

  1. The Way and Its Power

  2. The Way of Chuang Tzu

  3. The Book of Changes

It is well worth exploring a variety of interpretations and translations in order to discover which one makes the most sense to you.

Embodied spirituality

Instead of talking, praying or thinking, Taoists do. They act. They put their wisdom into practice. Tai chi is a physical embodiment of Taoist insights.

Taoist principle

The Chinese symbol called 'tai chi' or the 'supreme ultimate' contains yin and yang. Yin is black and yang is white. Tai chi combines yin and yang to produce a process of dynamic balancing.
The art of tai chi employs this Taoist principle at all times.

Tai chi fighting method

The wisdom of famous tai chi masters came to be known as The Tai Chi Classics. These are the most widely read:

  1. Chang treatise

  2. Wang treatise

  3. Wu treatise 

  4. Yang Cheng Fu's 10 Essentials

These documents provide a detailed outline of what tai chi is and how it should be employed. Correct practice of tai chi must follow the guidelines precisely.

The highest level of tai chi practice is high stance and small circle. In high stance and small circle you can conserve your energy to a maximum level. This is very crucial in battle. Endurance has always been the crucial key to survival in a long battle. Moreover, due to high stance and smaller shape you can reach to the deepest relaxed stage, the mind is highly concentrated, and the sensitivity and alertness can be extremely sharp.

(Yang Jwing-Ming)


The 'quan' in tai chi is all about combat. When you remove the fighting skills, strategies and tactics, the art is no longer complete.

Worth buying

The Essence of Tai Chi Chuan - The Literary Tradition by Lo et al
Tai Chi Secrets of the Ancient Masters by Yang Jwing-Ming


Page created 21 May 1996
Last updated 26 September 2023