In ancient China, word-
used to pass on cultural heritage and traditions. This
was certainly true of the of the martial arts, and until
the eighteenth century the secrets of Tai Chi Chuan
were closely guarded and only shared between
members of the same family.
Because of the oral tradition and secrecy, the true
origin of the art is uncertain and this has given rise to
many myths about its creation. The most famous of
these is that of a Taoist sage named Chang San Feng,
who was said to have lived around the time of the Sung Dynasty (960-
Chang San Feng (or Zhang Sanfeng) had relinquished his official role in Government and become a wandering hermit in search of enlightenment, when one day he was disturbed in his meditation by a commotion. He got up and discovered a crane and a snake fighting, but curiously neither creature was gaining the upper hand, each using softness and circular motions to counter the other’s attack.
Fascinated, he began to develop a system of movements based on what he had seen, incorporating them into his daily routine. Before long, Chang San Feng had integrated his knowledge of Taoist meditation and breathing into the movements and adapted the martial aspects to form a new type of exercise system that had never been seen before. It is this holistic system of exercise that is now known as Tai Chi Chuan.
Although Wikipedia and Chen stylists claim that the one of the first verifiable practitioners
of Tai Chi Chuan was the founder of their style, (Chen Wang Ting 1580-
However, there is no record of Wang having ever existed and given that Yu-
Chang Nai Chou (born between 1710 and 1720) predates Lu Chan (b. 1799) and Ching Ping and was from a neighbouring province. He remains one of the most distinguished internal martial artists to have actually authored his own texts, and his writings have been translated in Douglas Wile’s excellent book, ‘Tai Chi’s Ancestors’. Nai Chou appears to demonstrate a more rounded, comprehensive grasp of energy dynamics and how to express them within the body than the Yang Style progenitors.
The content of Gu Dang Tai Chi Chuan is closer to the essence of Tai Chi and its predecessors conveyed in the classical teachings referred to above than it is to the modern day Yang, Chen, Wu or Sun styles and their interpretations of the classics. However, my Tai Chi is not strictly ‘classical’; it represents a new interpretation and evolution of these teachings, containing both points of difference and agreement.
My connection to these teachings is through the direct lineage from Yang Lu Chan
through successive lineage holders to John Ding (Ding Te Chean) who was my teacher
for exactly 6 years. This close connection to ‘the source’ gave me the keys to understanding
internal power and ultimately to be in a position to share my hard-
Original Tai Chi Symbol
Gu Dang Tai Chi Chuan
London & SE England
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