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the_history_of_taijiquan [2014/03/24 09:43]
sifuphil created
the_history_of_taijiquan [2018/01/29 10:31] (current)
sifuphil
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-=The History of Taijiquan= 
  
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-The best way to comprehend Taijiquan is to comprehend its history and its improvement through the eras. Each one style, and every variety of that style, was produced in a specific manner for a specific reason. An instructor of one era may accentuate a certain part of the lessons, and in the event that you don't comprehend why that particular accent was made you may not structure your Taiji properly.  
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-Case in point, I recall a story from a martial arts school where there was a strange kick in one of the katas. Nobody could truly comprehend what its purpose was. Be that as it may one Sensei completed some investigations and figured out that in the age in which the kata was made they wore wooden shoes and the "kick" was really not a kick whatsoever, but was merely the fighter flicking his shoe into the face of his rival!!  
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-With a style such as Taijiquan, with a history so long, it is unavoidable that there will be comparable historic peculiarities whose unique significance has been long overlooked, yet individuals still routinely incorporate in their practice. So...  
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-Where does your style originate from? 
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-Why did it evolve the way that it has?  
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-What benefits has this provided for the enactment of your style?  
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-Comprehending where your style of Taiji "fits" in the entries of history can help you better respect your specific style and can really help enhance your practice.  
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-The historical backdrop of Taiji is as rich as it is ancient. Taiji has advanced through the many changes  of Chinese social advancement where it has now turned into a prominent national treasure, and is additionally turning into an undeniably well-known modality of exercise in the Western World.  
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-The roots of Taiji are fittingly saturated with secret and legend, making it challenging to find the exact time when Taiji “began".   
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-==Bodhidharma== 
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-Case in point, some might say that we can ascribe the beginnings to Bodhidharma (known as Ta Mo in Mandarin Chinese), a Buddhist monk from India who ventured out into China in the fifth or sixth century.  
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-The story goes that Bodhidharma watched the Shaolin monks ignoring their bodies because of a lot of contemplation and insufficient activity, so he instructed them in an arrangement of physical exercises known as the Eighteen Hands of Arhat. There is likewise supposition that he taught them the "Muscle / Tendon Change Classic", an early traditional type of Qigong. A few of the traditional stances of Taiji (e.g. Wave Hands Like Clouds, Single Whip, Play the Guitar, Grasping The Sparrow's Tail and so on.) can clearly be ascribed to these exercises.  
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-Different analysts will readily indicate Hua-tu'o, a physician of the Three Kingdoms period (220 - 265 AD), to whom is ascribed the formation of "Movements of the Five Creatures," otherwise known as "Five Animal Games" and also as the "Five Animal Frolics." Hua-tu'o believed that such exercises were fundamental to great health and a long life-span, endorsing exercises that imitated animals - tiger, bear, primates, deer and birds. The Five Animal Frolics' attention to animal movement patterns might be seen as an antecedent to the movements of Taijiquan.  
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-At this point there are advocates such as myself who will include the idea about the profound roots Taiji has in Taoism. One need only examine the ''Tao Teh Ching'' by Lao Tzu to see this:   
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-*Yield and Overcome;  
-*Bend and be straight.  
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-*He who stands of tiptoe is not relentless.  
-*He who strides cannot look after the pace.  
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-It could be effectively said that the philosophy of Lao Tzu is the same philosophy of Taijiquan. One could view Taijiquan as a physical manual that allows an experiential understanding of the Tao. Particularly when you look deeper into the Yin-Yang theory, the Five Elements and the Bagua of the ''I Ching'' you will see extremely significant related associations between Taijiquan and Taoism.  
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-So with this marginally cloudy and curving way we arrive at last at the first "rise" of Taiji in the equally mysterious personage of Zhang Sanfeng. 
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-==Zhang Sanfeng (c. 1400)== 
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-I specified above that Zhang Sanfeng is a dark semi-legendary figure in light of the fact that there is controversy regarding whether Zhang Sanfeng was a real individual or whether he was simply a scholarly creation to represent the historical backdrop of Taiji up to that point.  
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-The general agreement (with a few minor differences) is that Zhang Sanfeng existed from 1391 to 1459. He initially prepared as a Shaolin monk but then left to study and train with Taoist wisemen, until he at last settled at the renowned Wudang Mountain.  
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-One of the focal myths encompassing Zhang Sanfeng is the story of the snake and the crane. He clearly saw a scene, or had a dream, wherein a snake was battling with a crane. In one adaptation of the story the main focus was on the snake as it was fit to dodge and counter the crane. In an alternate version, equivalent credit was provided for both snake and crane as they established their deadly moves. In both cases, the symbolism is said to have been Zhang Sanfeng's enthusiasm for what would turn into "The Thirteen Movements".  
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-Connecting straightforwardly to the Taoist principles of the eight trigrams of the ''I Ching'' and the five elements, The Thirteen Movements incorporate:  
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-Eight postures:  
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-# Ward-off 
-# Rollback 
-# Press 
-# Push 
-# Pull 
-# Part 
-# Elbow strike 
-# Shoulder strike 
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-Also five "demeanors":   
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-# Advance 
-# Retreat 
-# Look left  
-# Look right 
-# Center 
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-In any case, there is serious debate as to the real existence of Zhang Sanfeng. There is substantial argument that the character of Zhang Sanfeng was made to legitimize certain schools of Taijiquan, implying that the authors attempted to unite themselves with an old historical figure as a method to give their style its authority. As nobody can either demonstrate nor refute this, I am very sure these dubious verbal confrontations will keep on going for quite a while.  
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-It ought to likewise be noted here that, at this time, the martial art that was to become known as Taijiquan was called Chang Ch'uan. 
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-==Wang Zongyue==  
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-Wang Zongyue has partly the same reputation as Zhang Sanfeng in the sense that there is scarcely any irrefutable authentic evidence of his presence, and some also assert that he to be the "real founder" of Taijiquan.  
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-Said to be one of the disciples of Zhang Sanfeng, Wang Zongyue expounded upon his instructor's theories and techniques. Rather than just the segregated movements of the Thirteen Postures, Wang Zongyue combined the Thirteen Movements into a free-flowing grouping - a forerunner of the Taijiquan structure that we use today. It is uncertain however what this structure may have looked like.  
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-Wang Zongyue is the ascribed creator of one of the Taiji classics, called the Salt Shop Manuals, and was the first to allude to the art as "Taijiquan", and evidently also authored the popular phrase, "a force  of 4 ounces deflects 1,000 pounds."  
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-It was Wang Zongyue's understudy, Chiang Fa, who supposedly conveyed Taijiquan to the village of Chen in Honan. There is a note here, however, that a few styles appear to have appropriated Chiang Fa as their own, implying that there are claims that he came rather to "different" towns to show them the "true Taijiquan".  
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-==Chen Wangting (1580–-1660)==  
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-The significance of Chen Wangting is that he is the first truly authenticated originator of Taijiquan. Those that claim Chen Wangting was the originator say that he created Taijiquan from his experience as a military general and from his investigation of Chinese combative techniques including Shaolin.  
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-His entire body of work was composed of five small sets of forms, a 108-move Long Fist form, and a Cannon Fist form. Chen is additionally credited with the innovation of the first push-hands works out.  
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-==Chen Changxing (1771-–1853)==  
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-Chen Changxing, from the fourteenth generation Chen family, is most acclaimed on the grounds that he taught the first non-member to the Chen family, Yang Lu-ch'an.  
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-He has been viewed as a bit of a free-thinker with some thought that he both learned different styles of Kung Fu as well as restructured the conventional Chen forms which he proceeded to teach to Yang Lu-ch'an.  
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-Chen Changxing is said to have been of a flippant character and was given the epithet "Mr Ancestral Tablet" because of the explicitness of his posture.  
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-It is paramount to note that, despite the fact that the Chen style is ancestral to the Yang Family style, the Chen family Taijiquan kept on being honed, taught and passed down through progressive eras, in spite of the fact that even inside the Chen style itself branch styles started to appear at this point.  
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-For instance, Chen Youben created and conveyed to Chen Qingping what would eventually become  known as the "New Frame" Chen style. Under the guidance of Chen Qingping this would inevitably be known as the Zhaobao school. Chen Youheng was likewise said to have conveyed a "New Frame" Chen style.  
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-Chen proceeded with the "Old Frame" style that conveyed through Chen Gen-yur, an arrangement that probably served to advance the art of Taijiquan even further. 
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-==Yang Lu-ch'an (1799–-1872)==  
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-Yang Lu-ch'an stands as a defining moment in Taiji's history. Until this time Taiji was a fiercely-guarded mystery of the Chen family, taught just to relatives. The story of how Yang Lu-ch'an figured out how to take in the art is of much debate with some interesting varieties.  
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-One story is that Yang, already an expert fighter, tested one of the Chen family in a battle and was soundly whipped. Embarrassed, Yang prepared hard for a year and tested the Chen relative once more, and was again given a beating. Resolved to learn this better style, Yang attempted to gain admittance to the Chen family school, yet was repeatedly dismissed. In one of the more vivid variations of the story, Yang then purposely swallowed some hot coals to make himself a mute and masqueraded as a servant, then invaded the town where Chen Taiji was taught. 
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-Under this disguise Yang spent several years furtively watching and concentrating on the practice sessions of the Chen family and performing those techniques hidden from sight. Then he was uncovered by Chen Changxing and Yang felt beyond any doubt he would be murdered because of his ruse. However, so the story goes, Chen Changxing saw a chance in Yang to revitalize what he thought was some stagnation in the Chen crew. It is reputed that Chen Changxing had made some real changes to the accepted Chen Taijiquan structure and it was this that he furtively taught Yang Lu-ch'an. The story goes that Chen Changxing entered Yang into the yearly Chen family competition where Yang was the definitive victor.  
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-Yang Lu-ch'an was then allowed to go out and show this new form of Taijiquan, which eventually came to be officially known as the Yang Family Taijiquan.  
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-There are numerous stories of stunning deeds performed by Yang Lu-ch'an, which resulted in him getting known as Yang Wu Di (Yang the Invincible). In the end his reputation and his capacity to demonstrate it in tests of ability prompted his hiring in the mid-1800's by the Imperial family to train  them and a few of their special Manchu Guards in Taijiquan.  
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-The Yang family Taijiquan continued to be taught through Yang Lu-ch'an's child, Yang Chien-Hou, and after that through his child, Yang Chengfu.  
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-==Yang Chengfu (1883–-1936)==  
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-The importance of Yang Chengfu is that he speaks to yet another defining moment in the historical backdrop of Taiji, in that he has given birth to what may be called Modern Taijiquan. Working through the Beijing Physical Education Research Institute, Yang Chengfu was one of the first Taiji experts to freely stress the health profits of Taijiquan, and there is some debate as to why he did this  
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-One possibility, which I concede does have some legitimacy, is that Yang Chengfu adjusted to the increasing pressure of the Chinese Communist Party by deliberately downplaying the hand-to-hand fighting techniques in favor of the health aspects. It is said that this is the thing that helped save Taiji from the social cleansings, particularly seeing that it had previously been so closely associated with the upper classes.  
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-Yang Chengfu authored two writings, "Application Methods of Taijiquan", distributed in 1931, and "Essence and Applications of Taijiquan".  
  
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 [[Category:Martial Arts]] | [[Category:Martial Arts Philosophy]] [[Category:Martial Arts]] | [[Category:Martial Arts Philosophy]]
  

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