General History and Introduction
Chang San-Feng (approximately 1200 AD) is believed to have created Tai Chi Ch’uan, which roughly translates to "Grand Ultimate Boxing". He is said to have blended the movements of the snake and the white crane styles with the internal focus of Chi Kung meditations as a basis of this art.
The story goes that he was resting under a tree by a river after a long journey and was watching the scenery alertly as all wary travelers needed do. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a large snake coiled in the sun on the rocks by the bank of the river. As he lay there, his back leaning against the tree, he relaxed in the coolness of the shade.
As he continued to scan the countryside, he saw a large white crane descending towards the river in search of food. Watching as the crane settled near the rocks by the river, Feng’s attention drew sharply into focus as the crane noticed the snake and began to hop over closer towards the snake. Moving carefully, the crane hopped and by using its wings, Feng saw the crane lightly flying closer and closer in search of a possible lunch.
Feng watched as the crane drew up and struck at the coiled snake with its sharp beak. The snake quickly twisted and slithered away from the crane a few feet. Again the crane hopped closer and attacked the snake, however, this time the snake darted sideway slightly and then, struck upwards towards the crane by extending his body and lashing out with its fangs.
As Feng watched the two animals fought, he began to analyze their motions. He saw the value of the snake’s elusiveness and quick strikes, he saw the agility and balance of the crane as it gracefully danced using its wings to position its body for a better angle to strike from. He saw how the two animals blended together in a deadly dance, each using its own different skills and abilities to try to counter the other animal attacks. It is from this story that the history of Tai Qi Ch’uan begins.
After thinking of this fight scene time and time again, Feng studied the Snake style of Kung Fu and the White Crane style of Kung Fu. Blending these arts together with the internal focus and breathing of Qi Gong, Feng developed the internal martial art called Tai Qi Ch’uan.
This blended style of martial arts is historically the first known example of mixed martial arts (however, it is a far cry from today’s society idea of mixed martial arts) and while few people think of Tai Qi (its common nickname) in this manner, it is very important that we continue to cherish and remember the historical roots of this amazing art. By understanding our roots, we can find the movements of each animal within the forms or katas.
Just like a person with long hair might weave their hair from three different main strands of hair into a unified or braided ponytail, Tai Qi Ch’uan is a blended martial art consisting of three main roots woven into one art.
There are 5 main styles or different versions of Tai Qi Ch’uan (Yang, Chen, Wu, Sun and the Unified style) taught in the world today.
Each style has its own different emphasis and while they share many common movements, the pace or dynamics of the different styles can be very different due to the fact that over time, different “families” emerged who practiced and taught Tai Qi Ch’uan. Each family was from a different town or village with a different main patriarch of their respective style who influenced their family style.
Here at ACS, we teach the most common style of Tai Qi Ch’uan taught around the world - The Yang family style - Our classes all start with gentle breathing as we center ourselves and begin mindful breathing to help relax and de-stress from the day as we clear our minds. Class material will be from the Yang family style forms and various Qi Gongs (vitality sets)
We change the emphasis or the material throughout the year and all beginners are welcome each week into the class. The best time to begin is as soon as you can.
New students do not have to wait for the “next semester” to start as if they learning in a collegiate setting, such as my students who have studied underneath my direction at Mesa Community College (where I have taught since the mid 1990’s), we always have room for new students to join our classes at any time.
We invite you to come in and watch a class. And if you want, you may even join the class for free to experience this amazing art for yourself.
Offering the best in martial arts instruction for residents of cities, towns, and suburbs near Chandler, Arizona including Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Apache Junction, Fountain Hills, Glendale, Coolidge, Peoria, Casa Grande, Avondale, Goodyear, Sun City