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Tai Chi Styles

What are the main five styles of Tai Chi     
Emergence of the Chen Style in Tai Chi     
Emergence of the Yang Style in Tai Chi     
Emergence of the Wu Style in Tai Chi     
Emergence of the Wu or Hao Style     
Emergence of the Sun Style in Tai Chi

What are the main five styles of Tai Chi

There are primarily five styles of Tai Chi Chuan, each named after the Chinese family from which it originates:

There are now dozens of new styles, hybrid styles, and offshoots of the main styles, but these five family schools are the groups recognized by the international community as orthodox styles.

Emergence of the Chen Style in Tai Chi

The Chen Style is the original form of Tai Chi, from which the Yang style was developed. Unlike most other styles, not all movements in the Chen Style are performed slowly. The Chen style is characterized by alternating fast, slow, and even explosive movements.

One major theory about the origin of the Chen Style is that it originates from the village of Chenjiagou. Chen Wangting, a general of the Ming dynasty, is considered the founder of the Chen style of Tai Chi. During the Ming dynasty, Chen served as a commander of the garrison in the Outer District. He was known for protecting trade caravans in Henan and Shandong and for quelling a series of conspiracies and uprisings against the central authority. After the fall of the Ming dynasty and the rise of the Qing dynasty, Chen's military career ended, and he retired to his family village of Chenjiagou, where he laid the foundations of Chen Style Tai Chi.

Another major theory suggests that the style was created by the Daoist monk Chen Sanfeng in the 12th century. He utilized Daoist teachings and practices to create the Chen style of Tai Chi.

Emergence of the Yang Style in Tai Chi

The Yang style of Tai Chi is the most popular and widely practiced style on a global scale. There are numerous fundamental variations of this style. Different schools have arisen from the approach of specific masters or from particular geographic regions in China. Each variant has a distinct character and appearance to a greater or lesser extent, highlighting various techniques and principles. However, all are referred to as the Yang style.

Yang Luchan, also known as Yang the Invincible, is considered the founder of the Yang style. He was born in Guangping Province, China, in 1799 and passed away between the ages of 72 and 73 in 1872. He practiced Tai Chi in the Chinese village of Chenjiagou under Chen Changxing, a master from the Chen family.

After leaving Chenjiagou, Yang gained a reputation for never losing a match and never causing serious injuries to any of his opponents. Having perfected his combat skills to an exceptional level, Yang Luchan became known as Yang Wu Di (楊 無敵, Yang the Invincible). Over time, many great legends emerged around Yang's martial prowess. These legends have been depicted in numerous films and books. While these anecdotes can't be verified, one remarkable incident is worth mentioning to illustrate Yang Luchan's character and personality:

In Beijing, a wealthy man named Chan had heard of Yang Luchan's remarkable skills and invited him to demonstrate his art. When Yang arrived, Chan saw a quiet and unassuming man and thought that he couldn't possibly possess any combat skills due to his outward appearance – Yang simply didn't look like the fighters Chan was accustomed to seeing. Yang was served a very simple dinner, not in the grand quarters befitting Chan's status. Nonetheless, Yang Luchan conducted himself as an honored guest, despite the host's assumptions. During the dinner, Chan decided to question whether Yang, who appeared so gentle, could actually use Tai Chi to defeat a person. Given that he had invited Yang based on his reputation as a great fighter, this question was a thinly veiled insult. Yang answered the question by saying that there are only three types of people he cannot defeat: men made of brass, men made of iron, and men made of wood. Chan grew angered and summoned one of his top bodyguards, Liu, to test Yang's skills. Liu, who was much larger and taller than Yang, aggressively attacked him. Yang, using only a simplified technique, threw Liu to the ground. Chan was greatly impressed and immediately ordered a banquet to be prepared in the formal quarters. There was no longer any doubt about Yang Luchan's abilities.

Some of the most famous disciples of Yang Luchan include      
Yang Banhou,      
Yang Jianhou,      
Wu Yuxiang,     
Wu Quanyou.

Emergence of the Wu Style in Tai Chi

The Wu style of Tai Chi is the second most popular style. It has three main variations with strong stylistic differences, originating from its founder Wu Quanyou, his son Wu Jianquan, and his grandsons. Wu Quanyou was born in 1834 in China and passed away between the ages of 67 and 68 in 1902. He was a military officer of the Manchu dynasty stationed in the Forbidden City in the center of Beijing. During that time, Yang Luchan was teaching Tai Chi to the imperial guards. In 1850, Wu Quanyou became one of Yang Luchan's students. In 1870, he was requested to become the senior disciple of Yang Banhou, the eldest son of Yang Luchan and an instructor for the Manchu military as well. The Wu style is derived from the Yang style. Unlike the Yang style, most Wu schools emphasize small, compact movements. Together, the Yang and Wu styles, with all their variations, encompass the vast majority of Tai Chi practitioners.

Some of the top students of Wu Quanyou include      
Wu Jianquan,      
Wang Maozhai,      
Guo Songting,      
Chang Yuanting,      
Xia Gongfu,       
Qi Gechen.

Emergence of the Wu or Hao Style

Wu Yuxiang is the creator of the Wu style, also known as the Hao style of Tai Chi Chuan. He was born in China in 1812 and passed away between the ages of 67 and 68 in 1880. He was also a senior student of Yang Luchan and learned from teachers of the Chen family as well, notably Chen Qingping.

Some of his top students include      
Li Yiyu and Li Qinuan.

Emergence of the Sun Style in Tai Chi

Sun Lutang is the founder of the Sun style of Tai Chi. He was born in China's Hebei province in 1860 and passed away between the ages of 72 and 73 in 1933. He learned Wu or Hao style from Wu Yuxiang. Sun Lutang was a master of Tai Chi, Xingyi, and Bagua. He is the creator not only of the Sun style of Tai Chi but also of the Sun style of Bagua.

Some of his best students include      
Sun Xingyi,      
Sun Jianyun,     
Sun Cunzhou.

Despite the abundance of styles in today's world, Tai Chi Chuan is cherished by millions of practitioners who spread it worldwide. It has become the most popular of all Chinese martial arts, making a significant contribution to people's health. Tai Chi Chuan is a precious gem in the realm of Chinese martial arts. It's an elegant, carefully structured, and serene style that retains its martial aspects, serving as a method for improving health.

Tai Chi Chuan is characterized by smooth and deliberate movements.