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What is Taiji?

Taiji is a relatively slow, stylized type of Chinese martial art (wu shu). While the movements in taiji have martial purposes - punch, kick, grab, throw - taiji focuses primarily on the internal aspect of the art - the flow of energy in the body. Power comes from Inside. Taiji is both a healing art and a martial art.

From the outside, taiji looks like a slow, choreographed dance. It is smooth, graceful, and very relaxed.

Most taiji is done as a set Form: 24-Form Simplified Taijiquan, 42-Form International Competition Routine, Chen Style 18-Form, etc. Each "form" is a short set of movements corresponding to one purpose: "Wave Hands Like Clouds," "High Pat on Horse," "White Crane Spreads Its Wings." The arms move, the legs move, the waist twists, the eyes flash.

The internal aspect of taiji is similar to that of meditation, or Qigong: the focus of taiji is on the flow of energy within the body, in each movement and in every cell. Breathing is important. Proper relaxation is absolutely required.

Why Taiji is Great

I love taiji. Taiji is fundamentally powerful and aesthetically beautiful. It is easy enough for the most infirm old lady, yet challenging enough for the fittest young gymnast. There is always room for improvement, always a better way to practice and perform. And no matter how you practice taiji, you are certain to reap significant health benefits.

And there is enough variation in taiji to satisfy even a hyperactive child with the shortest attention span.

Different Styles of Taiji

How many different styles are there of taiji? Well, how many different dialects are there of Chinese? And how many mountains and rivers are there in Asia?

But there are a few main styles: Yang, Chen, Wu, Sun, and Wu (Hao).

Yang style is the Style of the Golden Mean. In practice, you should always be relaxed, but never limp. There is a rhythm to the motions, but they are never too quick or too slow. Yang stlye is like ocean tides.

Chen style is the Style of Extremes. You go from extremely loose to suddenly hard, snapping your fist and stamping your foot fit to crack concrete. The rhythm is extreme, as well: slow, slow, quick!, slow. Movements flow like water and explode like stars.

Wu style is on the Slow side of the scale. It is incredibly Stable and looks so very gentle, with each move performed so very carefully in such a regular rhythm. Yet despite the feel of tree sap flowing on a cool day, Wu style is also very powerful, trapping flowers and insects in amber for millennia.

Sun style is lively. Each step has a follow step. Movements are executed with a rapid, unhurried rhythm. Sun style is like the wind in the mountains.

For more information on Wu (Hao) style, please visit

More Information

More information can be found at Julie Hasel's site, at Health World , and at other sites off our Links page.