Tai Chi Chuan
The traditional long form (and its derived short version that was designed for competition purposes) is probably the most well-known aspect of tai chi chuan. It can be practiced by everyone, young and old. The form is a flowing set of pre-arranged movements. Regular and correct practice leads to a healthy, flexible and relaxed body, an alert mind, a good body position, an improved coordination, a natural breathing, etc… not to mention the relaxing and therapeutic effects that this ancient form of Chinese health training can offer.
Advanced practitioners also train in the three weapon forms (sabre, sword and spear). These are very dynamical sets of movements that can increase your flexibility, strength, stamina, coordination, etc…
Besides the health aspects tai chi chuan can also become a very efficient way to defend yourself. All movements within the armed and unarmed forms of our traditional style have one or sometimes even various practical fighting applications.
Typical for tai chi chuan is the practice of tui shou (pushing hands), partner exercises focusing on training essential skills such as footwork, sticking, following, etc…
When we combine these skills with the fighting techniques from the forms (punches, kicks, throws, locks, escapes…) a very fast and effective method of self-defence occurs. With enough (hard) training it can enable you to defend yourself in every possible way.
A final aspect within traditional tai chi chuan training is called nei kung. Nei kung can be translated as “internal training”. This has two meanings. One is the practical, meaning that nei kung exercises focus on improving your health (breathing, focusing…) and strengthening your body to withstand punches and kicks. A second meaning of nei kung, internal training, is that is only taught to those students who already have reached a certain degree of proficiency in the other aspects of our tai chi chuan style. So here “nei” means that these exercises are kept “within” our tai chi family ; they are not taught to outsiders.
In order to get the most out of tai chi chuan, both health and fighting aspects are practiced in our club. Those who only train in one aspect (mainly the health aspect) without knowing or even considering the martial aspect will never get to the essence of this highly acclaimed martial art!
The style we practice is called Wudang tai chi chuan, a combat oriented style also referred to as practical tai chi chuan. The style comprises of all 5 major components of traditional tai chi training as mentioned before : hand form, 3 weapon forms (sabre, sword and spear), tui shou (pushing hands), fighting applications (both empty hand and weapons) and nei kung (internal training).
This style was popularised in Hong Kong by grandmaster Cheng Tin-hung (°1930) who in 1957 represented Hong Kong at an international full contact kung-fu tournament where he defeated the three times middleweight champion of Taiwan with his tai chi chuan skills. Subsequently many of master Cheng’s students went on to become fighting champions in their own right, including my teacher Dan Docherty (°1954). Dan competed in full contact kung-fu, representing the Hong Kong Team and his master Cheng Tin-hung. In 1980 he won the open weight division at the 5th South-East Asian Chinese Pugilistic Championship in Malaysia.
Contrary to the many popular gymnastic and new age oriented approaches to tai chi chuan (as practiced by the vast majority of instructors and practitioners worldwide!), Wudang style practitioners are still following traditional training methods. Genuine tai chi chuan is a highly sophisticated and subtle martial art that requires a high degree of skill and intelligence if mastery is to be achieved.
For more information about the philosophy, history and technique of our style we refer to the following books :
COMPLETE TAI CHI CHUAN
Author : Dan Docherty
Paperback, 190 pages, English
Published by Crowood Press, Great Britain
ISBN 1 861126 033 4
TAI CHI CHUAN – THE COMPLETE MARTIAL ART (*)
Author : Geert Van Loo
Paperback, 212 pages, approximately 650 photos
Published by Globe (Roularta Books), Belgium
ISBN 90 5466 581 5
(*) Only available in Dutch and Hungarian at this time. Contact the publisher for information
about forthcoming editions in English and other languages : firstname.lastname@example.org