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Taiji Quan

   Though legends tell that some eight centuries ago, Emperor Xuan wu taught the art of taiji Quan to an alchemist hermit in a dream, the available historical data seems to indicate that taiji quan was first devised in Henan Province some 300 years ago, in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. In subsequent years foreigninvasions and domestic peasant uprisings stimulated the diffusion of martial arts amoung the people, and a new form of boxing evolved. While earlier boxing styles emphasised quick movements and strong vigurous punches, this new style followed the principles of "subduing the vigurous by the soft", "adapting oneself to the style of others" and "overcoming a force of 1000 pounds with a force of four ounces".

   In the past century, taiji Quan has undergone significant changes, with its movements becoming more relaxed and graceful. Many moves requiring explosive strength disappeared, as did excessive foot stamping. Eventually taiji Quan became popular with men and women, young and old alike, and increasing attention was paid to its hygienic and therapeutic value.

   In the process of its development, taiji Quan gradually evolved into many different styles which need not be described here.

   There were however, five main schools, and numerous subdivisions under each school. Although each of the five had its own characteristic features, they share the following essentials:
  First, the posture is natural and relaxed. Mortion remains even and fluid, with the muscles neither stiff nor rigid. Breathing should be deep and regular. The practice of taiji Quan requires a combination of viguor and gentleness - neither inertness nor rigidity is allowed.
  Secondly, the mind should be tranquil but alert, with consciousness commanding the body, in order to achieve stillness within movement- a unity of stillness and motion.
  Thirdly, body movemenmts are well coordinated throughout the entire exercise period. Though the movements are gentle and slow, each part of the body is in constant motion. While practising taijiquan, the weight of the body is mainly borne by the waist and legs. A characteristic feature of taiji Quan is that all movements are carried out in half squatting position.

   In 1956, a simplified set of taiji Quan excercises based on the most popular sequences of the Yang schoolwas issued. This series consists of 24 forms which progress logically from the easy to the difficult and which take five minutes to complete. " Simplified Taiji Quan" has proved to be a great stimulus to the popularization of the sport both in China and abroad.

 Source :   Editor: linwu
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