The Mysteries of TaijiRead Now
April, towards the end of the month, is usually celebrated as World Taiji Day, this is the accepted date that has been chosen for the founding of Taiji. The Internal martial arts name their home as Wudang Mountain at the Purple Heaven Temple (usually just referred to as Wudang), the Internal arts being arts like; Taiji, Hsing Yi, Bagua, Liu He Ba Fa and so on. Though many of these arts were created outside of Wudang, almost all of these systems will list Wudang as the center of the Taoist Internal arts just as Shaolin is listed by many as the center of the External arts even though many styles were developed and created outside the walls of the temple.
Taiji is said to have been created by Zhang San Feng thousands of years ago, Zhang San Feng was a Taoist monk who lists Taiji as being created at Wudang, he is also known as Zhang Jun Bao he was born East of Liaoning province at the end of the Song dynasty. Zhang San Feng is known at Wudang as the founder of all Internal martial arts.
When Taiji became known here in the West it was recognized as a slow moving exercise and was not generally known as a martial art; those seriously practicing this art knew it to be martial and different in it's movements and skills from Shaolin. As Taiji was taught in Senior centers or community classes and continued to grow in popularity here in the West the martial side of the art was less emphasized and students began to see it more as an exercise. This slow moving exercise was not seen as being effective for street self-defense, it did not seem realistic when compared with how people could attack in tournaments or maybe what they saw in the movies.
With the popularity of DVD's and online training, the emphasis of Taiji was again seen as an exercise of meditation and physical therapy type training one could see some "martial" applications being demonstrated but because the student was not training in a training hall they again were not seeing the real practice of Taiji. Also, many instructors may have trained in Taiji for martial purposes but found it much easier to teach many students a watered down form instead of the years necessary for martial instruction and over the many years that Taiji has been available here in the West it has become less and less a martial art for the these very reasons to the general public.
There will always be some students who only want to train in Taiji as a moving meditation and there will be instructors who will teach it that way and for those who are looking for something deeper in their studies then it becomes important to be able to fine a teacher who has the necessary skills and time in their own training to pass on the martial applications. Proper teachers of Taiji are still training under instructors and they have learned their skills from masters with numerous years of training usually starting very young. They have been guided one on one by these teachers and have met other masters introduced to them as their training family. This is the proper way to learn Taiji and kung fu, knowledge passed down directly from master to student over a very long time, there is no short cut to martial training.