Taijiquan or Tai Chi Chuan is a system of traditional Chinese Martial Arts that is based on the fundamental theory of balancing Yin and Yang. Within this theory it is said that the constant fluxuation of yin within yang and yang within yin is ever changing. In the case of Taijiquan the duallity of yin and yang is seen as the concealment of hard or yang movement within soft, yin. Not to be confused with rigidity, stiffness or tension this hardness is derived from the correct alignment of the physical body to create a rooted, grounded or balanced outward expression. During this the body remains soft or supple and is not tense which allows for the energy or qi to flow properly. By doing so the body remains flexible yet strong creating an expression of power and strength which cannot be achieved through purely muscular skeletal movement.
During practice, students are taught Taijiquan in a series of movements; also
known as forms or routines. Each routine contains applications which utilize the
theories of yin and yang as a means for self defense. The physical repetition of
these routines allows the practitioner to gain a greater awareness of themselves
and learn to be more in tune with their body/energy. These routines are done at
a slow even pace ocassionally with an expression of power or fajin. During this
moment the body rapidly aligns to deliver the strike and returns back to a soft
relaxed state. This expression of power can be compared to the movement of
a whip or a wave like motion. In this way all of taiji is considered to be whip like,
each routine is continuous and although there are names given to each posture
to help the student remember, there is no pausing or stopping for the duration
of a form. Even when a routine is done at an extremely slow pace there is always
movement, expanding and contracting, attacking and yielding.
The use of these techniques to develop an awareness of alignment of the body for martial purposes has also been found to be extremely beneficial for one's health. The slow even pace of each routine calms the mind and settles the nerves. It allows the student to eliminate stress, anxiety, hyper tension, high blood pressure and many other ailments. Breathing during each routine is rooted at the dantian or energy center in the abdomen. With continuous practice, one's breathing and heart rate come under control improving functions of the lungs. Although all of taijiquan can be done at a "walking height", but the true benefit is seen when the practitioner stays at a height in their movement that engages the muscles in the legs. This in combination with slow rhythmic pace and soft stepping can help to greatly strengthen the stabilizing muscles around the hips, knees and ankles leading to softer joints, arthritic relief and the diminishing of scar tissue within the lower body. With its whip like motion, the upper is led by the lower, the arms are an extension of the movement of the legs. Power is not derived from the shoulder and back as in with typical external martial arts. This softening of the upper body has the same benefit as it does with the lower body. Shoulder tension is eliminated, typical ailments such as carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder and many others also greatly benefit. When done correctly the entire body is aligned which leads to the natural flow of energy eliminating what is known as qi stagnation. This helps to decrease illness within the body, increase the immune system, support vitality, heal the nervous system and boost the functions of the organs.
There are numerous forms of taijiquan practiced today. Some of the more popular styes include Wudang, Yang, Chen and Sun. Each of these styles embodies the core principles of Taiji while expressing them in slightly different manner. In addition to these popular lineages of taijiquan are the basic and well known forms of 24 posture, 42 posture and 48 posture taijiquan which are practiced the world over. Below is a list of the forms in the curriculum taught by Master Spencer. In addition to these routines, training consists of fundamental exercises to establish a good foundation, improve balance and coordination. Along side these exercises, students will be taught various forms of qigong including standing qigong and basic energy circulation. Forms curriculum below.
24 Posture Taiji Quan
48 Posture Taiji Quan
13 Posture Taiji Quan
YinYang Taiji Quan
Yang Style Taiji Quan
Chen Laojia YiluTaiji Quan
Chen Laojia Erlu Paochui
Sun Style Taijiquan
Wudang 28 Taiji Quan
32 Posture Taiji Sword
Taiji Single Fan
Taiji Matching Set