ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (HELL HEALTH NOTE): Tàijí quán 太極拳 ‘boxing of the Great Ultimate’

I knew it! I knew that the Chinese girls practicing taiji quan are absolutely amazing creatures!

I knew it! I knew that the Chinese girls practicing taiji quan are absolutely amazing creatures!

Tàijí quán 太極拳 ‘boxing of the Great Ultimate’

Some terms to help to become familiar to subject are fixed steps (tuīshŏu 推手), free steps (sănshŏu 散手), “inner boxing” (nèijiā quán 內家拳) as opposed to “outer boxing” (wàijiā quán 外家拳), muscular force (lì ), “inner force” (jìng ), and the real pneuma (zhēnqì 真氣) unobstructed circulation. That is from the beginning of an article written by my another favorite sinologist, Catherine Despeux. Instead of solo ‘jing’ term most preferable among practitioners of taiji art is ‘fājìng 發勁’ (‘an outburst of inner force’).

“The legendary origins of tàijí quán (太極拳) can be traced back to Zhāng Sānfēng (張三丰 or 張三峰) (“Zhang Triple Abundance” or “Zhang Three Peaks”), an immortal said to have lived between the Yuan (1260-1368) and beginning of the Ming periods (1368-1644). As far as the rare documents allow us to reconstruct its history, this martial technique developed from the seventeenth century onward within the Chén 陳 family of Chenjia gou (Henan), whose first known member associated with tàijí quán was Chén Wángtíng 陳王庭 (1600-1680).”—C. Despeux.

Just now I would like to make it clear for myself and other occasional readers, what I am doing now is putting in the list all names from the point of view of compilers of the Encyclopedia of Taoism. The point is to synchronize my humble opinion with editor’s one, nothing more. Sometimes I think that I am a little bit envy of those Chinese with pure heart believing in the legends, yes, I do, but the list of masters looks more reasonable beginning from the first documented name.

  • Chén Wángtíng 陳王庭 (1600-1680)
  • Yáng Lùchán  楊露禪 (1799-1872), came from Yongnian (Hebei) and served the Chens family (and Edward Snowden comes to my mind), created the Yang style of taiji. Yáng Lùchán transferred his knowledge to his three sons and his grandson, Yáng Chéngfŭ 楊澄甫.
  • Yáng Fènghòu  楊鳳候 (one of Yang Luchan’s son) handed this style down to Wú Quányòu  吳全佑 (1834-1902), whose son Wú Jiànquán  吳鑒泉 (1870-1942) created the Wu style.
  • Wŭ Yŭxiāng  武禹襄(1812?-1880?) who learned under Yáng Lùchán  楊露禪 and Chén Qīngpíng 陳青萍 (1795-1868), in turn handed it down to his nephew, Lĭ Yìyú 李亦畬(1832-92), the Li style.
  • Lĭ Yìyú 李亦畬(1832-92) transmitted it to Hăo Wéizhēn 郝為真 (1849-1920), the Hao style, and then it was finally passed to Sūn Lùtáng.
  • Sūn Lùtáng 孫祿堂(1861-1932), the Sun style.

Once again, it is only a version of a taiji styles’ genealogy from Encyclopedia of Taoism, Routledge Edition (2008), and that is exactly what I have been intended to place in my blog in Traditional Chinese with Pinyin and tones for further reference.


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