Lists of Tai Chi Chuan Forms
Origins of T'ai-chi Ch'üan
From a modern historical perspective, when tracing t‘ai-chi ch‘üan's formative influences to Taoist and Buddhist monasteries, there seems little more to go on than legendary tales. Nevertheless, some traditional schools claim that t‘ai-chi ch‘üan has a practical connection to and dependence upon the theories of Song dynasty Neo-Confucianism (a conscious synthesis of Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian traditions, especially the teachings of Mencius). These schools believe that t‘ai-chi ch‘üan's theories and practice were formulated by the Taoist monk Zhang Sanfeng in the 12th century, at about the same time that the principles of the Neo-Confucian school were making themselves felt in Chinese intellectual life. However, modern research casts serious doubts on the validity of those claims, pointing out that a 17th-century piece called "Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan" (1669), composed by Huang Zongxi (A.D. 1610–1695), is the earliest reference indicating any connection between Zhang Sanfeng and martial arts whatsoever, and must not be taken literally but must be understood as a political metaphor instead. Claims of connections between t‘ai-chi ch‘üan and Zhang Sanfeng appeared no earlier than the 19th century.
The listings are in numerical order to the number of forms:
What is now known as "t‘ai-chi ch‘üan" appears to have received this appellation from only around the mid-1800s. A scholar in the Imperial Court by the name of Ong Tong He witnessed a demonstration by Yang Luchan at a time before Yang had established his reputation as a teacher. Afterwards Ong wrote: "Hands holding Taiji shakes the whole world, a chest containing ultimate skill defeats a gathering of heroes." Before this time the art may have had a number of different names, and appears to have been generically described by outsiders as zhan quan (沾拳, touch boxing), Mian Quan (soft boxing) or shisan shi (十三式, the thirteen techniques).
History records that Yang Luchan trained with the Chen family for 18 years before he started to teach the art in Beijing, which strongly suggests that his art was based on, or heavily influenced by, the Chen family art. The Chen family are able to trace the development of their art back to Chen Wangting in the 17th century. Martial arts historian Xu Zhen believed that the Taiji of Chen Village had been influenced by the Taizu changquan style practiced at the nearby Shaolin Monastery, while Tang Hao thought it was derived from a treatise by the Ming dynasty general Qi Jiguang, Jixiao Xinshu (New Treatise on Military Efficiency), which discussed several martial arts styles including Taizu changquan.
Info-graphic page was last updated on June 12th, 2017 P.S.T.