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A Brief History of Taiji

Taiji (or tai chi) has a long and uncertain history. Many consider it a sport, a martial art, a dance or a practice similar to that of yoga. Also known as ‘shadow boxing’, the benefits of taiji on the body and mindset have been championed worldwide, with classes now being taught around the globe.

Deriving from Ancient China, if you have ever wondered about the history of the exercises you complete during our taiji classes in London and Kent, continue reading to find out more about this well-loved practice.

Links to Taoism

You may be familiar with the term Yin and Yan, but are you aware of its links to taiji?

Yin and Yang is all about the balancing of opposites Yin is yielding, receptive and dark and Yang is firm, active and light. With a 2000 year+ history, Taoism is an ancient philosophy that focuses on the importance of balance, drawing many similarities between our bodies and the environment we live in.

The belief is that our bodies, much like the world around us, requires opposing forces to work harmoniously to maintain balance.

Taoists believe that martial art practices embody these principles and are a good way to balance the body, which is where taiji comes in.

Taiji drawing

The Origins

There are many ideas and theories into the origin of taiji. With its strong links to Taoism, according to popular folklore it was the legendary priest Zhang San Feng who invented taiji during his time residing in the Wudang Mountains. It is said that the idea for the martial art came to him after witnessing a fight between a snake and a crane, taking note of their moves and adapting them into a sequence associated with taiji as we know it.

One of the earliest stories with historical evidence for the origins of taiji is the story of Chen Wang Ting. It is said that he was the founder of taiji practices, saying he developed the practice with influences from his past military career, Taoist yoga and Chinese medicine.

Throughout the 1950s-1970s, many ancient Chinese artefacts and ideation were destroyed during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. With religion considered as a degradation to the Chinese government, those who practised taiji were often exiled or had to flee due to its links to Taoism and Buddhism.


Today’s Tai Chi Practices

In today’s society, taiji is supported by the Chinese government, even thought of as the national sport of the country.

Nowadays it is practised across the globe, with much research having been conducted into its benefits to the mind and body. With links between general health and managing stress, for example, taiji can also be practised as a form of self-defence by those who master it.

Interested in Trying it Out? Book Your First Taiji Class in London, Kent or Online Today

To book your place, or to find out more about our in person and online Taiji lessons, please get in touch with our friendly team today.

Call now on 07836-710281 or send an email to

Alternatively, leave a message using the online contact form.

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