What Does Tai Chi Mean In Chinese?-Detailed Answer

Tai Chi is a form of martial arts and involves the combination of various slow physical movements in the form of stretches and exercises. When practicing Tai Chi the various postures that an individual assumes will flow into the next one without the individual having to stop or pause. Generally, it is a form of physical body movements that ensure the body of the person practicing Tai Chi is in constant movement. The exercise when performed is believed to connect the body and mind.

What is the origin of Tai Chi?

Tai Chi originated from China back in the 1670s when one individual known as Chen Wangting came up with different Tai Chi routines. There is also another less reliable version of the origins of Tai chi and which has a romantic and mystical account.

In the period ranging between the 15th, 12th, and the 8th century a legendary figure going by the name Zhan San Feng used to be a Taoist priest and was believed to possess superhuman abilities. It is believed that he invented Tai Chi and had immense internal powers.

Therefore, as we explore the history of Tai Chi, we will first focus on the more reliable version that involves Chen Wangting and how he came up with the full Tai Chi routine.

History of Tai Chi

Chen Wangtin was a Royal Guard, who emanated from the Chen Village in Wenxian County of Henan province. He initially worked for the army and had a great inclination to the teachings of Taoism that encouraged him to start farming while also teaching and studying martial arts.

When coming up with the various Tai Chi movements, Chen Wangting also incorporated the classical Chen style that is still being practiced today. The martial arts routines developed by Chen Wangtin were sourced from the school of boxing which he had great admiration for. The school was run by one general of the imperial army who went by the name Qi Jiguang.

The general produced a book based on military training, dubbed boxing in 32 forms. It is, therefore, believed that Chen Wangting fully understood the ancient techniques of Daoyin and Tuna and incorporated them into the martial arts routines that he developed. The martial arts techniques combined with the use of clarity of consciousness culminated in the practice of Taoism.

Important to note is that for one to fully comprehend the concept of Tai chi, they must first understand that Daoyin is described as the concentrated exertion of inner force. Tuna has also been incorporated into Tai chi, and to practice it an individual will have to engage in a set of deep breathing exercises.  Currently, the Tuna exercise morphed into Qigong exercises.

Chen Wengtin was also keen to incorporate the traditional Chines medicine in Tai Chi that enabled Tai Chi to become a complete system of exercise. Where an individual’s mental concentration, form of breathing, and physical movements are closely connected. Notable is that Tai Chi is currently used as a form of exercise and has been incorporated in all the aspects of overall health care.

What is shocking however is that the complete Chen Style was never revealed to the world but kept within the founder’s village. And what is even more surprising is that the clan taught Tai Chi to its daughter’s inlaw and not to its daughters for fear that they would take the art to another village. But in the years that followed, one Chen Xin also a descendant of the 16th generation of the Chen lineage wrote a complete and detailed book regarding the Chen school of Tai Chi.

Where he illustrated the relevant postures and movements, he even went ahead and explained the philosophical and medicinal background of the routines, which was later published in 1932.

What is the Symbol of Tai Chi?

Tai Chi symbol

The Tai Chi symbol above is also known as the Yin Yang symbol, it can also be referred to as Taiji or Tajiitu. The symbol goes back to the 3rd century BCE and is known to represent the unity and duality of nature. The symbol simply means that complementary forms integrate thereby forming a system where the whole is more powerful than the assembled parts.

Notable is that the symbol is not static but the interaction maintains harmony and the balance of the universe consequently influencing everything that is inside it. In Chinese philosophy, this symbol is a central concept incorporating martial arts, science, and medicine.

Understanding the black and white circle

From the above image, you can tell that the circle has been equally divided, into two black and white sections and which represents the interaction of energies that are found in everything. Notice the S-like shape, well that signifies dependence as both sides depend on one another. They, therefore, yield and push into each other. Notice the small white circle in the black area and the black circle in the white area. This means that while the forces are opposing each other there is a small part of the other in each of them.

Understanding the Colors

The black color is also known as Yin and is representative of female energy. The female energy is therefore characterized by submissiveness, intuition, creativity, softness, restiveness/passiveness, or receptiveness. The white color on the other side represents male energy thus the name Yang. Male energy is, therefore, characterized by logic, dominance, hardness, power, and enlightenment.

And if we look at the colors from a linguist’s point of view, the Yin is considered to be the Shady side of the mountain while the Yang is considered to be the sunny side of the mountain, both colors however appear in the same mountain.  

Bagua Vs Tai Chi

Bagua is also referred to as Bagua zhang and it is a Chinese internal martial art that emphasizes on merging the body and mind to achieve awakening. The technique eliminates the various jumps and kicks and instead focuses on balance, breathing, stability, and achieving full control of Chi.

Tai chi on the other hand can be referred to as shadow boxing, it is an internal Chinese martial art that is purposefully practiced to help an individual achieve health benefits, meditate, and for defense training. It involves the culmination of gentle stretches and physical exercises.

Tai Chi Chuan

Tai Chi Chuan History and Philosophy – Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan) is an ancient Chinese exercise that was first created as a fighting art. It is believed to have been developed by a Taoist monk who went by the name Zhang San Feng. The Origin of Tai Chi Chuan is still obscure and is believed to go back either 700 or 1500 years.

Zhang San Feng is known to have come up with Tai Chi boxing in the Wudang Mountain. It is believed that he was present when a snake was fighting a crane and that is where he got the inspiration to create Tai Chi Chuan. He then passed the fighting knowledge to his village mates and dwellers, the fighting technique made its way to the Chen family of the Chen village and this is where controversies rose as it is also believed that the Chen family was the first one to create Tai Chi boxing in the Chen village.

In the Chen family the art was taught to Yang Lu Chan and who came up with the Yang style Taijiquan. Yang Lu went ahead and taught Wu Yu Xiang and who came up with Wu Yu Style Tai Chi Chuan. Taijiquan was later on passed to the sons of Wu and Yang Lu Chan and which led to the development of other styles of Tai Chi boxing such as Li, Hao, San, and Zhaobao.

Tai Chi Chuan also means supreme ultimate boxing but can be translated to mean supreme ultimate exercise or skill. The exercise has been established to utilize visualizations, breathing, and movements that exercise the entire body. Basically is that Tai Chi Chuan was created by simply applying concepts of Tai Chi to natural movements, and which incorporate relaxation and breathing that consequently generate internal strength, longevity, power, and promotes general health.

The Philosophy of Tai Chuan is very simple and relies on the idea that everything consists of two opposing forces but which harmonize with each other to create a whole.

Where Did Tai Chi Originate?

Tai Chi is believed to have originated in the Chen Village.

How Old Is Tai Chi Chuan?

Tai Chi Chuan is believed to be either 700 or 800 years old.

How to Learn Tai Chi Chuan.

You can learn Tai Chi Chuan online from the comfort of your home just log into the Online Jet Li’s Academy.


Tai Chi was a heavily guarded form of martial arts mainly because of its overall health benefits that have found their way into modern society. If you are, therefore, interested in engaging your body-mind, and soul traditionally then you will have to take about 30 to 36 class hours and learn the basic movements of Tai Chi. Notable is that the benefits of practicing Tai Chi can be felt immediately.

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