What is Taiji?

Yang_Chengfu_FormTaiji (short for taiji quan, also spelled tai-chi or tai-chi chuan) is a system of internal gong fu (kung fu) that uses soft flowing movements to facilitate joint integration and the cultivation of energy. Though the first documented appearance of taiji occurred in Chen village at the very beginning of the Qing Dynasty (mid 1600’s), it is likely that the practice of taiji was developed several hundred years earlier by the semi-mythical Zheng Sanfeng on Wudang Mountain. Thus the oldest official taiji lineage is that of Chen village, dating back to approximately 1650. Today the most widely practiced style of taiji is Yang style, which was derived from Chen style taiji in the mid 1800’s by Yang Luchan. The other main styles of taiji are Sun style, Wu style, Wu/Hao style, Zhaobao style, Wudang style, and standardized competition style. Though today taiji is taught as a method of healing exercise, it was originally practiced as a ruthlessly effective martial art. Today there are only a handful of schools (including Triloka) that fully teach the martial art component of taiji.

Taiji Forms

There are over a hundred taiji forms of varying lengths. Empty handed forms are usually named by the originating family/style (i.e. “Yang”, or “Sun”) and then by the number of movements in the form (i.e. “37”, or “42”), resulting in names such as Yang 37 Posture Form, or Sun 42 Posture Form. Every taiji style also teaches numerous weapon forms, partner forms, and “push hands” drills.

Learning Taiji

Though initially learning the practice of taiji seems simple enough, you quickly encounter a bewildering array of styles, terms, philosophies and forms. All styles of taiji rest on the same foundation of slow integrated movements, and all styles have something to offer. However, taiji has a long history of being taught in secrecy: the public (when they were taught at all) were only given teachings on solo forms and general principles, while a few disciples were taught the deeper mechanics, secret exercises, and applications of taiji. And in most cases the entire spectrum of taiji was taught to only one or two individuals who were chosen to carry on the lineage. We at Triloka have been lucky enough to receive the latter type of training, and are now making it available to everyone. This is one of the key differences that make the Living Taiji Foundation and Advanced Courses so exceptional.