It is a martial art but it isn’t about fighting. It is movement but it has some static postures. It is good for your health, but it isn’t a miracle cure for every disease. It looks like slow motion “kung fu”, but it can be fast. It looks graceful and gentle but it holds a lot of internal power.
In general terms, tai chi chuan is a series of bodily movements with a martial component which has been used by Chinese people to keep physically fit for centuries, if you allow me this simplistic definition. Tai chi incorporates many aspects of Chinese culture, including traditional medicine and philosophy.
It is an internal martial art. This means that the internal focus is as important as the external movement itself. Breathing is also essential.
There are 5 different styles of tai chi chuan: 1) Yang style, most likely founded by Yang Lu-Chan, 2) Wu style, founded by Wu Quan-You, 3) Sun style, founded by Sun Lu-Tang, 4) Hao style, founded by Wu Yu-Xiang, and last but not least 5) Chen style, of which the true founder is unknown.
The Chen style is the oldest of the tai chi styles and it was kept secret among the population of the Chenjiagou village in Henan province in China for centuries, and it still keeps some secrecy around it. It is one of the most traditional styles.
Each style can be divided into different forms, each of them with a different number of movements and some specific characteristics.
House of movement teaches the Chen style 11 movement short-form, created by Master Liming Yue for beginners. Liming Yue is an indoor student of Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. In the video, Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei demonstrates the first part of the most traditional of the chen style forms, Lao Jia. Have a look at the video to see what chen style tai chi looks like: