Variety of Tai Chi Quan
Tai Chi Quan is one of the most famous styles of Wushu in the world. At the same time, we can say that despite its fame it is still very little studied style of Wushu. How comes it? Well, the whys of it is that all over the world people usually know and practice a simplified, sport version of Tai Chi Quan, whereas traditional Tai Chi Quan is significantly different.
In this article, we will talk about Tai Chi Quan Yang style, which has many variations. Many people consider that Yang style is not well suited for a real life fight, and that, in particular, Chen style is more effective in this regard. However, this point of view is quite misleading. It appeared because the Yang style, which is popular worldwide and which is practiced by the majority, is generally associated with soft and slow movements, and resembles more to a slow graceful dance rather than a martial art.
Although, let us remember who was the founder of Tai Chi Quan Yang style. It was Yang Luchan, known as ” Yang the Invincible”. How do you think, could Yang Luchan get such a nickname, when practicing soft and slow movements? Could he fight with professional fighters, moving slowly only? Of course, he could not. Speed, strength, agility and precision are important for fight.
Furthermore, Yang Luchan in his day taught his martial art to the members of the royal family and members of the capital elite that could afford to choose teachers who really were true masters. It should also be mentioned that Yang Luchan taught them a complete style of Tai Chi Quan, as withholding information from the Emperor’s family and nobles could have cost him his life, unlike teaching others that can be done with a limited program. But let’s put the history of the style aside, as it is a topic for another large article.
So, what do we have today? The majority of practitioners of Tai Chi Quan Yang style do only one form, where movements are slow and soft. They usually say that, to use Tai Chi Quan in a real fight, one needs to practice them for at least 5-10 years. Frankly speaking, even if you practice a slow form for 20 years, you still will not be ready to defend yourself. It is a well-known fact that Yang Luchan and his son Yang Banhou trained a special battalion of the Imperial Army called Shenjiying, and their preparation for a real fight needed to be quick and effective, and could not last for years. Now, it makes one wonder: does Tai Chi Quan Yang style really have only one, slow form?
The answer to this question is simple: the form is, of course, not the only one. There are several forms, and they are performed in a different manner and with different accents. The Large Frame (Da Jia), where movements are slow and soft, really is the first step in the mastery of Tai Chi Quan, but it’s only the first step. And if you stop on it, you will never be able to understand the depth and versatility of Tai Chi.
Surely, even by practicing only this form, you can improve your health and make your mind and heart calm and balanced. But it all will remain as a practice for health maintenance then. Meantime, if you are interested in martial aspect, then you cannot to stop at this stage. Apart from the Large Frame, there are still: “Lower Frame” or “Frame of the Earth” (Dijia), “Small Frame” (Xiaojia), “Fast Frame” (Kuaijia), “Old Frame” (Laojia) and that’s not all from the list. All these practices have different execution techniques and different purposes.
Therefore, a complete traditional practice of Tai Chi Quan Yang style includes not only the slow form, but a number of other forms and methods, where one can work on strength, speed, agility, quick execution of movements with a focus on the release of the power issuing (Fajin); there is also training of fast and precision buffets, shell exercises etc. In this case, we can doubtlessly say that studying the full complete program only, you will be able to acquire the skills notable for a true master of Tai Chi Quan Yang style.