Taijiquan is a Chinese internal martial art based on the philosophy of Taiji. It is also spelled T’ai Chi Ch’uan, with the name often being simplified to Taiji or T’ai Chi in common usage. Taijiquan includes elements of various martial arts, qigong (“internal energy cultivation”), Chinese philosophy and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and is said to capture the essence of traditional Chinese culture.
Modern day Taijiquan has many manifestations and serves a wide variety of needs. Some practice Taijiquan as a slow, graceful exercise for health maintenance and longevity. Others study it as a traditional combat art, equally emphasizing the fast paced, explosive combat aspects along with the softer movements. Still others perform aesthetic Taijiquan routines which have been standardized for wushu sport competitions. Given its strong meditative aspect, Taijiquan is also practiced as a form of “meditation in motion.”
Regardless of the style, sect or school, all popularly recognized forms of Taijiquan are rooted in Taiji philosophy and emphasize the power of muscular relaxation, effective use of leverage and full body coordination, rather than application of brute force in motion.
This unique practice has attracted people from around the world, with an estimated 100 to 150 million practitioners studying Taijiquan today (according to the China’s National Wushu Research Institute). And after centuries of development and refinement by generations of masters, Taijiquan is still a living, breathing art, one that is continuously innovating and evolving to meet the needs of people in today’s society.