After Shaolin monk Zhang San-feng left Shaolin, he ended up living in the Wu Dung Mountains and developed a new school of martial arts called wu dung (Cantonese: wu tang.)
As legend goes, Zhang San-feng saw a crane fighting a snake. The snake used soft coiling motions to ward off the bird’s attacks, and the crane used its wings to fend off the snake’s strikes. By 1365, Zhang San-feng had combined Taoist breathing exercises with the soft, fluid, coiling self-defense moves and created the internal martial art mien chuen (cotton fist). This became the foundation of tai chi.
Taoist monk Chiang Fa (aka Wang Zong-yue) taught mien chuen to Chen Wang-ting. Chen Wang-ting blended it with previous knowledge to create chen tai chi, a tai chi style that uses fast-slow and hard-soft movements (i.e., the perfect yin-yang combination). Chen Wang-ting taught Chen Chang-ching, who then taught Yang Lu-chen. Yang Lu-chen made changes and created yang tai chi. Over time, three new tai chi styles evolved: wu, sun and wu/hao.
Tai chi teaches you how to circulate your body’s chi (internal energy). To reap the full benefits of tai chi, you’ll also need to practice tai chi chi kung.
– March 5, 2013