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Tai Chi

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.

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  1. Energize Your Tai Chi Training With Sword Sparring

    Energize Your Tai Chi Training With Sword Sparring

    Although no one carries a sword for self-defense anymore, the practice of certain sword routines and techniques from traditional tai chi can help you develop skills that are useful in life and in other aspects of the martial arts, including empty-hand sparring.
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  2. European Martial Arts: Where Combat Sports and Military Training Collide

    European Martial Arts: Where Combat Sports and Military Training Collide

    The Asian martial arts have received a tremendous amount of exposure in the past century and are now almost universally known. Meanwhile, we in the West have neglected many of our own martial arts traditions, which in some cases have fallen into obscurity—much as the Asian systems had at the
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  3. Tai Chi Training for Middle-Aged Martial Artists Who Refuse to Quit

    Tai Chi Training for Middle-Aged Martial Artists Who Refuse to Quit

    On our walk down the martial path, we will find that we cannot rely on our martial arts training as we did when we were younger. That head-high kick gets harder and harder to deliver effectively. The power in that once-awesome reverse punch seems to slip, regardless of how much
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  4. China’s Martial Arts | Vintage Black Belt

    China’s Martial Arts | Vintage Black Belt

    China has always been the traditional home of the Asian martial arts. For 2,000 years, its people have experimented with and developed self-defense systems that have only recently become known in other countries as karate, judo, jujutsu and sumo.
    Yet curiously, little is known of the Chinese martial arts (wushu) outside
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  5. Tai-Chi Master Review | Vintage Jet Li Films

    Tai-Chi Master Review | Vintage Jet Li Films

    There are few types of action films that I enjoy more than the historical epic. Drunken Master II, Gladiator and 300—all are sweeping, emotional roller coasters packed with flawed heroes, grandiose visuals and beautiful violence. Sadly, many critics love to complain about historical movies, saying they’re wildly inaccurate and only
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