Comparing Styles of Tai Chi

Ancient Internal Chinese Martial Art for Health

Tai Chi Training

"The chin [intrinsic strength] should be rooted in the feet, generated from the legs, controlled by the waist, and manifested through the fingers. If correct timing and position are not achieved, the body will become disordered and will not move as an integrated whole; the correction for this defect must be sought in the legs and waist…The whole body should be threaded together through every joint without the slightest break." - Attributed to Tai Chi Founder Chang San-feng (est. 1279 -1386)

Yang Chen Fu
Yang Chen Fu - Single Whip
Tai chi is known for is slow moving and flowing forms. While it appears graceful, it would be deceiving to suggest it is easy to do. The more one puts into the practice, the greater the benefits. Approached properly, one should always target the highest goal of success. Falling short of a high goal is better than falling short of a low goal. The practice is both meditative and very technical. Great improvements in leg strength and balance can occur through training, but only with very diligent and daily practice. Tai chi is also known for using the meridians in Traditional Chinese Medicine for health. Learning is typically a slow process as one learns one move at a time for a very long form. Simply following someone else doing the form is of little benefit as one should learn how to do a complete form themselves, which can take a couple of years at a minimum. But with persistent practice, one learns continuously and completes the form.

The main modern styles of tai chi are Chen, and from there Yang spawned Wu and Sun styles. Sun style typically also incorporates the Chinese Martial Arts of Hsing Yi and Bagua. In the NY metropolitan area, Cheng Man-ching was a famous student of the grandson of the Yang Style founder, but he strangely morphed tai chi from its original design by removing all use of physical force. Some tai chi schools nowadays do not mention anything about where there style comes from. Best practice does suggest having an understanding of how one's style is connected historically.

Tai Chi Classes in Westchester, NY: Availability

Tai chi classes have become more limited recently. Practice may be outdoors or in public spaces such as a library or medical facility. The knowledge level of the teachers can vary widely when those responsible for hiring them come from a science/medical background or work at a library, as they do not know what to look for in tai chi, or how to interact with the program.