Tai Chi Chuan - also written as Taijiquan or more commonly, Tai Chi
The art of Tai Chi is probably the best known Chinese method of combining physical motion with mental discipline. It is also recognised as one of the most effective approaches to fitness.
Tai Chi has been handed down for generations through different families, since its creation by the legendary Taoist master Chang San-Feng during the Sung Dynasty (960-1279 C.E.), although there are many different accounts of the origin of the art.
Tai Chi Chuan was created just before the end of the Ming dynasty by Master CHEN Wangting (1600-1680). It originated in Chenjiagou, a small village in the district of Wenxian (Henan Province, China).
CHEN Wangting incorporated the principles and philosophy of Chinese medicine, such as the theory of yin & yang, acupuncture meridians and Qi Gong to form a new art which became known as Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan)
Tai Chi can be translated as 'Supreme Ultimate', a reference to the harmonious existence of opposites (yin & yang). Chuan means fist, implying a system of boxing.
Today, it is mostly practiced for its enjoyment and health benefits.
The Chen family's Tai Chi remained a secret for five generations, not to be taught to anyone outside of the family. Later on, during the 1800's, Chen Chang-Hsin (1771-1853) broke this tradition and taught his family's style and secrets to an earnest student named Yang Lu-Chan (1799-1872).
Yang Lu-Chan went to Beijing and developed his own Yang Style from which the other family styles derived.
The Yang family masters had a lineage of students who created the other major styles of Tai Chi Chuan, which include the styles of Wu, Hao, and Sun. Although each style has its own particular "flavor" and they appear different in their external performance, they all keep to the principles laid out centuries ago by Chang San-Feng.
The five main styles of Tai Chi, each one being named after its founder and family of origin:
Chen Style Chen Wangting 1580-1660
Yang Style Yang Lu-ch'an 1799-1872
Hao Style Wu Yu-hsiang 1812-1880
Wu Style Wu Ch'uan -yu 1834-1902
Sun Style Sun Lu-t'ang 1831-1932