The term Tai Chi Quan translates as “supreme ultimate fist, boundless fist, great extremes boxing or simply the ultimate.” Tai Chi theory is deep and profound. It takes many years of practice, learning, research and pondering to gradually grasp the esence to the art. It is said that Tai Chi Quan was created by San Feng Chang in the Song Hui Zong era (1.082 – 1.135) although techniques and forms with the same basic principles were already in existence almost 600 years earlier that were created from previous one taught in Han Dynasty (206 BE – AE 220). The content of the art has varied from one generation to the next. What we see today in the forms of Tai Chi has been evolving for more than eight hundred years. Various versions of Tai Chi are still practiced around the world: bare hand, sword, saber, spear, stick, ball or ruler. Some are slowly disappearing for there are very few masters around to teach.
The first step into the Tai Chi world is usually done by learning and understanding the basic theory, fundamentals, and principles. Posture and fundamental leg and hand movements are to be cultured. What follows is the study of the solo sequence which takes from about six months up to three years’ time. Most students stay and practice it on this stage and give them sufficient enjoyment. To go further the next step to learn is calmness and relaxation and how to internalize the proper coordination of the breathing. This also takes up to three years each. Only after all this has been learned a person should start to investigate and discuss the martial art application of the postures. Until this moment Tai Chi is done in a very slow and soft mode. With incorporation of martial art substance we begin to practice the speeding up of the solo sequence and giving the movements the power (ying).
The best to learn so-called internal martial arts aspects in practice is pushing hands (‘tuishou’). Based on using opponent’s energy, it helps to develop the endurance needed in a contest. It teaches how to correctly respond to the external stimuli and thusly diminishing our natural instinct of resisting force with force. Tuishou will train one’s body to yield to the force and redirect it. After a while, a person reacts spontaneously.