TAIJIQUAN

The term Taijiquan 太极拳 is composed of three ideograms: Tai means “high, maximum, extreme”, ji “top, the highest beam, pole” and quan “punch method, boxing”. Since it began to spread in the West, the profound originality and diffusion of Taijiquan has led many people to wonder why this Chinese discipline is the most practiced in the world. The answer is that it is aimed at everyone – men and women, young and old – and summarized as “Gentle gymnastics”, “Meditation in movement” and “Martial discipline”.

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It is a “gentle gymnastics” because it is characterized by slow, gradual movements and lengthening (stretching), performed in such a way as not to require excessive effort. Thanks to it, sedentary people, the elderly or those who have orthopedic problems, and therefore find it difficult to train in traditional sports, are stimulated to perform a general “joint mobilization”, or a preventive-therapeutic gymnastics that gives harmony to our actions thanks to large and circular movements.

It is a “Meditation in movement” because it uses slow movements that tune mind and body. This tuning has the purpose of canceling the contrast between thought and action, activating the Qi, that quality of energy that we Westerners call “Vitality” hidden in our body. By activating Qi, it is possible to improve the posture of the spine on the pelvis, body strength, respiratory quality and immune defenses thanks to a suitable increase in osmotic pressure, which stimulates blood and lymph circulation. Getting a better immune response means getting sick very rarely and naturally relieving the symptoms of some seasonal ailments such as colds, allergies and many other diseases.

By “Martial discipline” we mean a fluid, harmonious and natural defensive method created in the 13th century by Zhang Sanfeng, a Taoist warrior monk also expert in Qi gong and Acupuncture who teaches to “win without fighting” and to “yield without suffering”, thus undoing that knot of aggression which, every day, inexorably involves the activities of every human being.

Although this art was born in feudal times as a privileged defensive method, in the last two centuries the difference in health has been noted between those who practiced this discipline and those who did not, because its followers enjoyed an iron health that led them to reach beyond the century of age, when most of the population did not reach the middle of these years. Today, science has clearly demonstrated the great benefits that the practice of Taijiquan also brings to those who have a sedentary lifestyle: its secret consists in establishing the correct relationship between strength and harmony, a key that, within the body, allows you to maintain health and prolong its efficiency.

 

Taijiquan technical program

 

Taijiquan (太極拳) study program is divided into two parts called Neibu Xiaolu and Neibu Shanmen. The first segment of the practice, Neibu Xiaolu (内部 小路 or “Inner Path”) is aimed at beginners or those who undertake the study of Taijiquan as a discipline or gymnastics with a meditative and healthy purpose.

 

The Neibu Xiaolu studies the following factors:

  • exercises to develop softness and elasticity (Su Wei Shou or “Amalgamate with your hands”) which constitutes a sort of specific athletic preparation;
  • the simplified exercises to unlock the energy gates (Baduanjin or “Eight pieces of brocade”);
  • specialized exercises of internal alchemical work or Neidan Qi Gong aimed at refining energy (Xiao Zhoutian and Da Zhoutian, respectively “Little celestial revolution” and “Great celestial revolution”);
  • the simplified forms (Xin Jia).

 

The second segment of the practice, the Neibu Shanmen (内部 山門 or “Inner Gate”) is dedicated to those who choose to complete the study of Tai Chi Chaun as a martial art. It should be clarified that it is not possible to access the second learning segment without first having practiced and understood the first.

 

The Neibu Shanmen contemplates the following exercises:

  • basic contact techniques (Toui Shou);
  • the ancient forms (Lao Jia);
  • techniques to enhance and convey Qi (Waidan Qi Gong);
  • the applications deriving from the techniques contained in the form (San Shou);
  • the opponent’s control techniques (Qinna);
  • evasion techniques (Taochu);
  • medium and long distance techniques (Talu);
  • the handling of the main traditional weapons: stick, sword, saber, spear and halberd (Bingqi Shu);
  • practice and strategy in free combat (Dan Shou).

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