Chi Kung (qigong) is an umbrella term for all sorts of energetic exercises. Chi Kung practices aim at increasing and harmonizing the chi flow in the body. The earliest beginnings of Chi Kung are hidden in the mists of antiquity, the earliest references date back 5000 years, but the beginnings are probably much older.
Tai Chi Chuan was invented by the taoist sage Chang San Feng, probably in the 12th century. Outwardly it is a martial art, but its inner principles come from Chi Kung and taoist meditation.
Tai Chi Chuan was created by the sage Chang San Feng . He was a master of external martial arts (Shaolin) before he became a disciple of the immortal Huo Lung (fire dragon), from whom he learned daoist meditation. He was amazed by the flow of energy he experienced in the meditation and asked his master how to incorporate this energy-flow into his martial art. The master remained silent. Then Chang San Feng witnessed the fight between a crane and a snake and suddenly realized the he just saw the principles in action. He then modified the external movements until they were in harmony with his inner chi-flow, thus creating a new art: Tai Chi Chuan.
Tai Chi Chuan was transmitted secretly until it emerged in Chenjiagou, when Wang Tsung Yueh, a passing stranger, taught it to the villagers.
For a long time, Tai Chi Chuan was only transmitted in secret, until it came to the Chen village, when Wang Tsung Yueh taught it there. From then on, it was known as Chen-style Tai Chi Chuan. Yang Lu Chan learned this art in Chen village (Chenjiagou) and later went to Beijing where he became the instructor of the imperial guards. His way of doing Tai Chi Chuan became known as the Yang-style.
Yang Lu Chan had two sons who in turn became famous masters. From then on, the Yang-style was transmitted from generation to generation in the Yang-family. But the masters of the Yang family had other students, imperial guards, manchu princes and other important persons. These were not taught the entirety of the style, which was jealously guarded by the family. These students in turn had their own students, who in their turn learned their version of Tai Chi Chuan. This style often was renamed after their master's family name, hence the two "Wu" styles (which actually are different names in chinese). One of the Wu-styles was renamed Hao style after master Hao Whei Chen.
The last of the most famous 5 Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan) styles is the Sun style. Sun Lu Tang was originally a Hsing-I (xingyi) practitioner, a student of the famous Kuo Yun Shen. He later also learned Pa Kua (bagua) from Cheng Ting Hua and finally Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan) from Hao Wei Chen. His "Tai Chi" is in fact an amalgam of the three styles he had learned.
Some students of the Yang family, notably students of Yang Cheng Fu, did not change the name of the style they learned. One such student in particular became famous for bringing Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan) to the west: Cheng Man Ching.
Today we still have the Chen-style, the Wu-, Hao- and Sun-styles and a lot of Yang-styles. The style taught in the ITCCA is not just one of these, it's the family-style, the complete style as handed down inside the Yang family from Yang Lu Chan to his great-grandson Yang Shou Chung. Yang Shou Chung had three disciples, Ip Tai Tak, who continued teaching in Hong Kong until his death in 2004, Chu Gin Soon, who went to Boston, and Chu King Hung who went to Europe.
External martial arts need a high degree of strength and fitness to be effective. Usually, the heavier, stronger and/or quicker person wins. With the age, the fighing prowess diminishes.
In internal martial arts, the motor behind the movements is not strength in the conventional way. It is chi, which can be used to directly affect an adversary through his meridian system. The techniques are effortless if done correctly, even with a much stronger or heavier adversary.
The basics of external martial arts can be mastered in a couple of months, in internal arts, several years of intense training are necessary before the techniques can be applied in self-defense.
Today, real internal arts have become very rare. Even the well-known internal martial arts such as Pa Kua Chang (baguazhang), Hsing I Chuan (xingyiquan) and Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan) are usually practiced externally, the internal principles having been lost. The Original Yang Style is an exception, the internal principles have not been forgotten and can be learned by everyone.
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