History of Tai Chi

The founder of Tai Chi is historically a Taoist monk called Chan Sang Feng, who lived in China during  thev13th century.

He was reputedly a great master of the Shaolin Martial Art, and a former Buddhist Monk.

Chan San Feng.jpg

It is said that he was not happy with the hard straight oriented techniques of Shaolin, and wished to use a softer methods in training.

One day while resting on the veranda, he watched in fascination a battle between a large bird and a snake. The bird was ten times the snakes size but as the bird lunged and snapped at the snake, the wily reptile, coiled, dodged, and lashed attacks back at its giant foe.

Eventually the bird gave up in exhaustion and flew off in search of easier prey. It is said at that moment Tai Chi was invented.

Chan San Feng combined the softness of the snake, with his profound martial art skill, and Tai Chi Chuan was born.

The next five centuries are shrouded in mystery. It was not until the 18th century when a man called Chen Chang Hsing was teaching the then secret art of Chen Tai Chi to his relatives, that history becomes clearer.

A man called Yang Lu Chan, who was employed as a servant by the Chens, had been secretly watching, and learning their art. Already a skilled martial artist, Yang had learned their art very well, and when it was discovered, Chen Chang Hsing was so impressed he allowed him to learn the whole system.

It was from this moment the Yang Style of Tai Chi was born.

Yang Lu Chan became very famous over the years, and was asked to teach the Chinese Royal Family who ordered him not to teach anyone but themselves and family members. In secret, Yang disobeyed and taught many students. Yang Lu Chan passed his art to his two sons Yang Pan Hou and Yang Chien Hou.

But it was Master Yang Cheng Fu, son of Yang Chien Hou, who revolutionised the art.

He wanted the ordinary people to gain good health, both mental and physical from practising Tai Chi. He modified the art making it simpler, and more straight forward, and emphasised the health giving qualities more than the martial arts aspects.


The art spread across the whole of China, and through the teachers that followed Yang Chen Fu to other parts of the world.

Today Tai Chi is thought of as a health art for all ages, rather than a martial art, although a few schools teach the original Tai Chi Martial Art.

From the teaching of Yang Cheng Fu many styles of Tai Chi were born.
Apart from the Yang and Chen styles already mentioned, there is the Wu, Sun, Woo Chien Chuen, Chen Man Ching and many varieties of these styles.

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What is Tai Chi ?

Literally translated Tai Chi means Supreme Ultimate Exercise


The most well-known aspect of the art is called the solo Form which is a series of slow, smooth relaxed exercises where control of the posture is of utmost importance.
The more accurate and precise the movements are performed enhance its health benefits.
The Tai Chi exercise naturally deepens the breathing, calming the mind and gently stimulating the whole system.
It is this precision  during the exercise which accounts for many of the health benefits.
Like Acupuncture Tai Chi’s aim is to balance the life force or Chi and cultivate good health and a calm mind.
It is used extensively in the Far East not only to maintain good health but also to support recovery from ill health in many hospitals.
In the west medical research studies has proven the many health benefits of regular practice of Tai Chi, please see here for more information.
The solo form is only one part of Tai Chi the others being, Qigong, Pushing Hands, Self defence and Tai Chi weapons used by advanced practitioners to develop their energy further.
We teach all of these parts of Tai Chi in our classes, except for the self defense, or combat form, which has its own seperate class. There are various styles of Tai Chi and the one we teach is called Yang Tai Chi.
The Yang style is characterised by long, smooth movements which are soothing for the mind and body.
Master Hine has been teaching this style for over 40 years in the UK. We also teach Bagua and Hsing Yi, sister arts to Tai Chi.
Bagua is based on the ancient Chinese Taoist I Ching or Book of Changes.
The book of changes teaches that everything has a cycle and is in constant change:
The constant twisting and turning thoroughly exercises your waist, lower back, shoulders and hips. But more than that all of your internal organs receive a thorough massaging, so you are exercised both inside and out.
The hips and legs are strengthened and stretched making this a very balanced routine, for example with Bagua.
Xingyi is oldest of the three internal arts, and is practised in straight lines, mimicking the marching of the convoy guards on the silk routes. It is, in fact, some 900 hundred years old, or so the legend goes. For more information see here.

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