What is Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan)?


World Tai Chi and Qigong Day will be celebrated on Saturday April 28 with events world wide beginning at 10 AM in each time zone. Here in Herndon, VA, Qi Elements Center for Taijiquan and Qigong will have an open house with demonstrations and workshops on Taiji and Qigong exercise from 10 AM to 12 Noon, followed by a pot luck lunch from Noon to 1 PM.

Translated from the Chinese, the name means something like “supreme ultimate empty-hand fighting.” When we try to put the sounds of the three Chinese characters that spell Taijiquan into English letters, confusions might arise because there are several different ways to do it. In the modern, Pinyin system used in China, the sounds are written “Taijiquan.” In older systems that are still more widely used in the West, the sounds are most often written as “Tai Chi Chuan.” Either way, it all means the same—an ancient Chinese martial art that relies on internal energy and technique for effectiveness rather than on the size, strength or speed of the practitioner.

The art is based on the Taiji (Tai Chi) philosophy and the principles of Yin and Yang found in the I Ching, the classics of Taoist philosophy such as the Tao Te Ching and other sources such as The Art of War. Taijiquan trains the practitioner to move his or her body as a single, integrated unit and to coordinate the body movements with breathing, mental focus and circulation of internal energy or Qi (Chi). The movements flow continuously in circles and spirals. When engaged with an opponent, the practitioner of Taijiquan never attempts to overpower the opponent, but instead to use the opponent’s movement and energy against the opponent.

Most Americans, if they have seen anyone practicing Taijiquan at all, have only seen old people practicing slow movements in a park mainly for health. In the beginning Taijiquan is practiced with slow movements, but the movements become faster as the practitioner progresses and begins to practice the martial applications with training partners. The bare-hand techniques of Taijiquan include striking with feet, hands and elbows, takedowns and throws as well as joint locking. Taijiquan practitioners may also train with traditional weapons including, saber, sword and staff.

Taijiquan has been revered for centuries in China as both an exercise for maintaining and improving health and as a highly effective martial art.

About Qi Elements Taijiquan & Qigong

I am the director and chief instructor at Qi Elements Center for Taijiquan and Qigong in Herndon, Virginia. I have been a Taijiquan and Qigong seminar student of Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming since 1996 and am certified by Dr. Yang as a full instructor of YMAA Qigong.
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