Taijiquan (also spelled Tai Chi Chuan) literally means ‘Fist of the Supreme Ultimate’ or simply ‘Yin-Yang Boxing’. The origin of Taijiquan is the fighting style of the Chen family, founded in the early 17th century by Chen Wangting in Henan province, China. The Chen style fathered Taijiquan as we know it today.

Taijiquan is a martial art that can easily be identified by the slow, flowing movements exhibited in its hand forms. Chen style Taijiquan, however, distinguishes itself from later styles by the use of fast, explosive techniques (known as ‘Fa Jin’ – ‘power issuing’), complementing the slow aspects of the form and establishing a balance between hard and soft, fast and slow, strong and yielding. These fast movements are the most widely recognized feature of Chen style, making it famed throughout China and the World.

Taijiquan practitioners – renowned for their fighting skills – trained and constituted the Chinese Imperial Guard in the second half of the 19th century. Today however, Taijiquan is not primarily known as a martial art, but mostly as a means of improving health, and as a training method for body and mind alike. In China, Taijiquan is a widely-recognized remedy for a number of ailments, and is often prescribed by doctors against respiratory illnesses or movement disorders. In Germany, Taijiquan is officially recognized by health insurance as a prevention method for a number of diseases, and financial benefits are offered to Taijiquan students.

Taijiquan as an internal martial art

Together with Baguazhang and Xingyiquan, Taijiquan is the most famous so called ‘internal’ martial art. In contrast to the more widely known ‘external’ martial arts (for example Shaolin Boxing), the focus of internal arts lies largely on the work with internal energy (Qi), and thus also on health development and preservation. Through intensive, focused training of the Taijiquan forms, the students’ abilities gradually evolve into a ‘Gong Fu’ (or Kung Fu), an ‘achievement through great effort’. The abilities developed and the principles internalized by the arduous student form the basis for effective self-defense, and made Chinese martial arts famous throughout the World. Since the training of the body and the mind is a smooth and continuous process, age does not matter for Taijiquan, so that everyone – regardless of age, sex, stature or strength - can learn this art.

(original text from www.shujian.at)