The art of Tai Chi Chuan was created by Chang San Feng in approximately 1270 A.D. Legend has it that Chang San Feng was inspired by watching combat between a snake and a crane, observing the grace and flow of these creatures. When the snake would strike, the crane would gracefully retreat. When the crane attacked, the snake would coil. In this contest the principles of yin and yang, where the soft overcomes the hard, became evident.
The forms and postures as they were originally performed are no longer seen today, but the ‘operating principles’ were codified in the writing of Chang San Feng and are enacted today in modern forms.
The form of Tai Chi Chuan is based on the ideas from Taoism, a philosophy or world view derived from the I Ching (Book of Changes) and from the writings of Lao Tzu. The I Ching, which embodies the idea of yin and yang and their opposition, alternation and interaction, originated and was developed in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, B.C.E. Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching sometime during the 5th century, B.C.E. One of the most common images in this book is water, which is soft and yielding but which can overcome the hardest of substances. So, too, is Tai Chi Chuan seemingly soft and yielding, but holding the capacity for great power.
World Tai Chi and Qigong Day Celebration, 2010
Master Donald Rubbo leading the Tai Chi set at Gerstle Park
Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi Chuan
The Guang Ping form is traced back to the legendary Tai Chi Master Yang Lu-Chan (1799-1872), who had been adopted by the Chen family and had learned the Chen style Tai Chi Chuan from them. Yang Lu-Chan moved his family from the Chen village to the town of Guang Ping, and modified the Chen form.
Often described as the ‘lost’ Yang form, Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi Chuan combines all the positive aspects of Yang Style with qualities that added strength, flexibility and versatility. Guang Ping’s stances are lower and wider than Yang Style, but not as pronounced as Chen style. The form also includes a combination of hard and soft styles, large and small circles and incorporates double jump kicks, and other wide sweeping kicks. The movements are long and deep, more energetic, with more apparent martial combat character and includes elements of ba gua zhang and hsing-i chuan, which can be seen in Guang Ping’s spiral force energy and projecting force energy theories.
Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi Chuan is a powerful, effective system of both self-defense and self-healing. The form comprises sixty four movements, and the same cultivation practices and principles used to develop physical resilience and fighting skill are simultaneously used to cultivate the power of healing energy, for self and others.
This miraculous health system is appropriate for any age, and can be modified to accomodate any body type or fitness level.
In the 1960’s, when Tai Chi Chuan was brought to the West, it was taught as a system of exercise for health and the graceful, dance-like movements have often been described as “moving meditation.” The health benefits of Tai Chi Chuan are numerous and profound. When practiced regularly, Tai Chi increases the flow and function of chi (life force energy) and the continuous, flowing movements massage the organs, tone and strengthen the ligaments and muscles; calm the nervous system; improve balance, flexibility, coordination, stamina and mental clarity, and dramatically increase the felt sense of inner harmony and joy in life.
The art of Tai Chi Chuan also teaches compassion, patience and deep relaxation, and is a perfect antidote to stress and stress-related disease. In its more advanced stages, Tai Chi does indeed become a moving meditation.