by Dr. Alan Yuen


The most popular theory ascribes the origin of Tai Chi to the Taoist priest Zhang San Feng who lived towards the end of the Song Dynasty in the 13th century. It is believed that after completing his training in the Shao Lin Temple, Zhang San Feng one day witnessed a fight between a snake and a crane, this led him to modify the hard Shao Lin Kung Fu into a much softer style which later developed into Tai Chi.

Four Main Styles

Chan Style

This style is thought to have been developed by CHAN Wang Ting, a general of the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century. The Chan style is best known for its martial arts aspects, it has a number of fast moves within the form, which can clearly be identified with its martial arts application.

Yang Style

The Yang style Tai Chi that is currently the most popular style was developed by YANG Lu Chan (1799-1872) after having learnt the Chan style from CHAN Chang Xin. The Yang style is full of gentle graceful movements and many people practice it for its health benefits.

Wu Style

WU Yu Xiang (1813-1880) learnt Tai Chi from YANG Lu Chan and also from CHAN Jing Ping. He combined the two styles to form the Wu style.

WU Chuan You (1834-1902) learnt Yang style Tai Chi from YANG Ban Hou, who was YANG Lu Chan's son. He later developed another Wu style Tai Chi. The pronunciation and Chinese character for the 2 Wu are different, though written the same in English.

Sun Style



SUN Lu Tang (1861-1932) learnt WU Yu Xiang's Wu style Tai Chi and developed the SUN style. This style incorporates the best principles of 3 internal Kung Fu styles: Wu style Tai Chi, Hsing-Yi and Pa Kua.


Tai Chi Chuan, or Taijiquan in Romanized Chinese, is an ancient Chinese physical art, deeply rooted in Chinese Philosophy and Taoist Wisdom. The main practice in Tai Chi is the form itself, which is a series of movements executed slowly and smoothly in a relaxed and yet focused manner. The form has been referred to as poetry in motion and as moving meditation.

Benefits - from Tai Chi


Tai Chi can improve one's physical and emotional health, cure chronic illnesses, prevent illness, lessen one's stress level, improve stamina, co-ordination and quality of sleep. An individual may derive some if not all the above benefits by constant exercise.

Effective Martial Arts

Tai Chi is one of the effective and powerful martial arts. In general, martial arts use speed and physical strength with the objective of striking as fast as possible. The basic combat strategy in Tai Chi is different: the aim is to flow with the opponent's movements rather than against. The Tai Chi exponent needs to be calm and relaxed in order to apply the techniques effectively. The striking force is not derived from physical momentum but from the flow of internal energy built up through the Tai Chi form.

Spiritual Cultivation

Tai Chi is a form of non-religious Taoist cultivation as it does not involve any dogmas or worship, and people of any religion can practice. However, even at the early stages of practicing Tai Chi, one may gain a greater sense of equanimity, better control of one's emotions and experience the joy of living.


A good Tai Chi instructor will be able to teach more than just the mechanics of performing the form and to yield full benefits. At least 20 minutes daily practice is the key to success and there is no limit to the level one may achieve.

Personally, after starting Tai Chi, my squash and tennis game improved, I have fewer coughs and colds and when I do, they are less severe. Also clearly noticeable was that I suffer much less from the effects of jet-lag.

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