The Kung Fu of Tai Chi Chuan

Fitness |

The literal translation of Kung Fu is, ‘hard work or skillful effort.’ Although the movement in Tai Chi Chuan appears to be relaxed and effortless, there are many things happening beneath the surface.

Tai Chi Chuan is an Internal Martial Art. The process of developing relaxed and effortless movement is an essential part of the Kung Fu of Tai Chi Chuan.

Tai Chi Chuan is said to have the qualities of water. Water is soft, flowing, and conforms to whatever shaped vessel it is in or around. At the same time, it can be incredibly powerful. Anyone who has experienced a stormy sea or raging rapids can testify to that. This “waterway” path that Tai Chi Chuan takes is the direct influence of Taoist philosophy, which follows the “Way” or Tao of natural energies. To follow the Tao means “to yield” or “to go along with” oncoming force. It does not resist force. Tai Chi Chuan takes on the character of water at the most advanced levels. It flows with aggressive force and conforms to it.

Tai Chi Chuan can also be likened to the wind. It can be as gentle as a summer breeze or as relentless as hurricane or tornado. When Tai Chi Chuan channels your inner energy in the natural way of the wind, you can say that it has kung fu.

The ability to “listen” ( Ting Jing-in Mandarin) is another aspect of Tai Chi Chuan kung fu and it requires super sensitivity. There is the story of a Tai Chi Chuan master who could keep a bird from flying off his hand by using ting jing or listening energy. Every time the bird tried to take off, the master yielded and the bird had no base to spring from and take off. That is another example of Tai Chi Chuan kung fu.

Tai Chi Chuan is a form of Chi Gong or Qigong , the activating and channeling of internal energy. Strong chi is like fire. It can warm a house or burn it down. At the advanced levels, qigong can be used as a self-defense or it can be used therapeutically. Many medical cases document the healing qualities of Tai Chi Chuan’s qigong.

Yang Lu Chan (creator of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan) stands out among masters for his incredible abilities in Tai Chi Chuan. Such was his prowess that he was nicknamed “Yang the Invisible.” You could say that Yang Lu Chan had kung fu!

Tai Chi Chuan is unlike any other discipline in the world. It is, at the same time, resilient, relaxed and powerful. The master weaves an intricate web of concentric circles, beginning the form and ending it at the same time and place.

This is the result of countless hours of refining skills. It is done over and over again like a great sword maker at his forge, hammering and tempering the steel until the sword is flawless and honed to perfection. When Tai Chi Chuan plays as naturally as a breeze, it becomes the kung fu of Tai Chi Chuan.