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Taijiquan is generally classified as a form of traditional Chinese martial arts of the Neijia (soft or internal) branch. It is considered a soft style martial art's an art applied with internal power's to distinguish its theory and application from that of the hard martial art styles.

Since the first widespread promotion of taiji's health benefits by Yang Shaohou, Yang Chengfu, Wu Chien-ch'uan and Sun Lutang in the early twentieth century, it has developed a worldwide following among people with little or no interest in martial training, for its benefit to health and health maintenance. Medical studies of taiji support its effectiveness as an alternative exercise and a form of martial arts therapy.

Some call it a form of moving meditation, as focusing the mind solely on the movements of the form purportedly helps to bring about a state of mental calm and clarity. Besides general health benefits and stress management attributed to taiji training, aspects of traditional Chinese medicine are taught to advanced tai chi students in some traditional schools.

The study of taijiquan primarily involves three subjects. Traditional schools cover these aspects of taiji practice simultaneously, while many modern schools focus on a single aspect, depending on their goal in practising the art. These subjects are:

  • Health: An unhealthy or otherwise uncomfortable person may find it difficult to meditate to a state of calmness or to use taiji as a martial art. Taiji's health training therefore concentrates on relieving the physical effects of stress on the body and mind. For those focused on taiji's martial application, good physical fitness is an important step towards effective self-defense.
  • Meditation: The focus and calmness cultivated by the meditative aspect of taiji is seen as necessary in maintaining optimum health (in the sense of relieving stress and maintaining homeostasis) and in application of the form as a soft style martial art.
  • Martial art: The ability to use taiji as a form of self-defense in combat is said to be the most effective proof of a student's understanding of the art's principles. The study of taiji chuan martially is the study of appropriate change in response to outside forces; the study of yielding and blending with outside force rather than attempting to meet it with opposing force.





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