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Philosophy – class notes

What is Tai Chi (Taiji) / Taiji Chuan?

Tai Chi is simply the yin/yang philosophy often expressed as the tai chi symbol.



It sets up a model of opposites. Male/Female, short/tall, north/south, etc. This starts a discussion of the simple idea that something is never all yin or all yang. Everything is in a constant mode of change from one to the other or it can be in equilibrium; which I will refer to as “balance”.

What is Taiji Chuan?

Adding the Chinese character “Chuan” (fist or system) gets you a simple definition for Taiji Chuan as a “system of balance”.

I would like to further define Taiji Chuan as “the process pf practicing and accumulating “gong””. Gong is the foundation of Taiji Chuan. Physically, the accumulation of gong refers to constant improvements in balance, coordination, agility, and power through the accretion and replenishment of “Qi” (pronounced chee) which can be described as “vital energy” or “life force”. Mentally and spiritually the accumulation of gong refers to constant advancement toward realizing inner tranquility.

Three main practices of  Taiji Chuan

Taiji Chuan can be separated into three types of practice.

  • Cultivation – this is a practice in stillness. Whether by sitting, lying down or standing you simply experience stillness. You accumulate gong by observing balance in stillness
  • Manifestation – this is a practice in movement. It is usually what is considered Tai Chi by the western world; however, Taijichuan is not the form.  The form is only a tool to learn and internalize principles of movement. There are five stages of Form practice development.
    • Choreography – choreography can be broken into some component parts. Stances, waist movements and arm positions can be summed up in the Taiji Chuan principle – “starts in the feet, moves up the legs, controlled by the waist (kua) and is expressed in the hands”
      • stances
      • waist (kua) movements
      • arm positions
      • weight shifts
      • direction
    • Xin Yi – using intention
    • From loose and sink to soft and smooth
    •  Yin/Yang
    • Spiral energy/ silk reeling
  • Utilization -this is a practice involving human encounters. Commonly known as “push hands or sensing hands” it allows you to see how your accumulation of gong is progressing. The purpose of push hands is to continue to further develop and maintain zhong ding. Physically zhong ding means upright, balanced and rooted. The opposite of zhong ding is pian; leaning or oblique.

    The thirteen ways

    • Four cardinal energies
      • upward (peng)
      • downward (an)
      • forward(ji)
      • side and back (lu)
    • Four corners
      • pluck(cai)
      • tearing (lie)
      • elbow (zhou)
      • bump (bump)
    • Four direction
      • forward
      • center
      • back
      • turn to close
      • turn to open



  • Principles of  Taiji Chuan 
  • Maintain your balance
  • Be comfortable
  • Don’t use any unnecessary force
  • No collisions
  • No separation

These principles are all employed during each of the main practices “cultivation, manifestation and utilization”.



My teacher and friend; Sifu Fong Ha (http://fongha.com)

Dr. Yang Yang “Taijiquan The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power”

Fu Zhongwen “Mastering Yang Style Taijichuan”