Tàijí Quán: 20+ Intriguing Facts to Unlock Your Qi!

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

people practicing taichi on Luannan county Hebei China
Chinahbzyg / Shutterstock.com

If you are all about balance, Tai Chi is a martial art that has probably caught your attention more than once, over the years. Tai Chi seems to be an ancient self-defense and meditation art form that took the world by storm. It is all about balance, relaxation, breathing, and centering oneself – and that seems to be enough for the art to earn itself many followers.

This form of martial art, which is revered for its careful balance of health benefits, self-defense purpose, and meditation, is closely related to the philosophy of yin and yang. If you watch someone practicing Tai Chi, you may very well notice how yin and yang, and the philosophy of balance relates to the slow and careful moves that are used.

However, there are many who want to learn more about it and where it came from. If you have always been keen to learn more about the mysterious martial art of Tai Chi, the following facts might be of interest to you. Find out what makes Tai Chi so special.

These are 20 plus interesting facts about Tai Chi.

Table of Content

1. The creator of Tai Chi was a Taoist Monk.

Zhang San Feng, a Taoist Monk, is said to be the creator of Tai Chi.

Silhouette illustration of a man figure doing taichi
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2. The art is called “Tai Chi” in English, but the actual name of it is Taiji.

Which is short for “Taiji Quan”.

3. Many describe Tai Chi as “meditation in motion”.

This description comes due to the slow movements used and the state of mental clarity that is achieved when practicing the art. While the original version of Tai Chi was standing up, there are modern versions nowadays that are even enjoyed as “sitting Tai Chi”.

4. This martial art goes back all the way to the 2nd century BC.

In fact, it has become increasingly popular year after year, not just in China, but on a global scale.

5. The traditional Chinese symbol for Tai Chi is 太極拳.

It translates directly to “Supreme Ultimate Boxing” or “Supreme Ultimate Fist”.

6. The concept of Tai Chi is easily understood by looking at a yin yang diagram.

Studio shot of Ying yang made from seeds
Aleksandar Dickov / Shutterstock.com

The philosophy is that everything consists of 2 opposing forces that create a whole by harmonizing with each other. For instance, every up has a down, every right has a left. It is this concept of opposing forces in harmony that brings about the movements that are used. Instead of striking back at an opponent, someone practicing Tai Chi would move with them, while slowly and calmly avoiding the impact.

7. Tai Chi is vastly popular in its country of origin, China.

Over many millions of Chinese citizens practice Tai Chi on a daily basis. It is almost always practiced outdoors in natural surroundings in the mornings, but this isn’t a strict requirement.

8. It’s believed that Tai Chi originated after a Taoist Monk saw a crane and snake fight.

Legend has it that the original martial art form of Tai Chi was developed after Zhang San Feng (the Taoist Monk mentioned above), watched a crane and a snake feuding.

The monk noticed how the bird struck out towards the snake and how the snake did not return force or react in opposition to it. Instead, the snake merely avoided contact with the bird by following a series of smooth, slow, and somewhat calculated motions that were evasive.

After watching this play out, the monk set about designing a series of self-defense moves that simply requires avoidance, while ensuring that the opponent’s moves work against him.

9. The Taoist monk, Zhang San Feng, spent some time learning Kung Fu at the Shaolin Temple.

It is thought that this is where his interest in creating the art form comes from. While Kung Fu and Tai Chi are not the same at all, it is believed that Kung Fu had an influence on the movements and the concept.

Shaolin is a Buddhist monastery in central China
Skreidzeleu / Shutterstock.com

10. The original form of Tai Chi is said to have had over 100 movements.

Which can prove quite difficult or complex to learn. Nowadays, there are 2 main versions of Tai Chi, which many believe were influenced by the Chinese government. One version incorporates 37 movements, and the other version incorporates 18 movements.

11. Taiji is a non-strenuous and non-exhaustive art and self-defense form.

This means that it is suitable for all age groups, regardless of physical fitness levels and agility. Classes can include a mix of age groups as a result. Everyone can learn at their own pace, but because the movements are so slow and precise, it can be fairly easy for newbies to keep up.

12. Tai Chi didn’t immediately make its way to the United States.

It was quite some time until it did. In fact, the first person to openly teach Tai Chi in the USA was Choy Hok Pang. He started teaching it in 1939.

13. The first public performance of the art in the United States was presented by a professional dancer called Sophia Delza.

The demonstration was held at the United States Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1954. After her demonstration, she continued to host classes for those wishing to learn the art and enjoy the health benefits.

14. Sophia Delza also wrote the very first English book on the martial art form.

It was published in 1961 in the United States.

15. Tai Chi after the Chinese Civil War in 1949.

After the Chinese Civil War in 1949, many traditional Chinese teachers of Tai Chi in China were forced to stop teaching the art.

16. Tai Chi has managed to impress many health professionals and experts.

General nurse go to elder patient taichi
Roung Chanthasiri / Shutterstock.com

Many health foundations and organizations across the world use the meditative exercise form in their healing programs. Parkinson’s, arthritis, and diabetes groups seem to favor this form of exercise.

17. While there is no official attire to wear for Tai Chi, masters and professional practitioners wear a “uniform” during public demonstrations and tournaments.

The uniforms that they wear are usually loose traditional Chinese trousers and either a long sleeve or short sleeve shirt with Mandarin color and Chinese frog buttons. The uniforms are either one solid color (usually all black or all white) or a combination of just 2 colors (black and white usually).

The entire purpose of this attire is for the movements to be easy and of course, for the fabric to be light and breathable, for complete comfort during the session.

18. Studies have shown that regular Tai Chi exercise is known to reduce pain, prevent anxiety, and quell the symptoms of depression.

The mental focus and the attention that one gives to be able to carry out the slow, careful movements are thought to provide the type of concentration and distraction from stresses and worries that usually present in the form of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.

19. The truncated versions of modern Tai Chi are not difficult to learn.

Some say that they can learn the movements in as little as just 36 lessons (lessons are typically 45 minutes to an hour long each). Professional instructors advise practicing the art for no less than 15 minutes each day on a daily basis. With constant practice, it is said that the movements will become more natural and fluid to the student.

Young woman doing traditional Tai Chi Chuan Tai Ji
May Chanikran / Shutterstock.com

20. Even though it is considered non-exhaustive and low-impact, it can still assist with burning calories and losing weight.

A typical person weighing about 125 pounds can expect to burn around 250 calories in a 1-hour session. In fact, this form of exercise is similar to going for a brisk hour-long walk. Combining Tai Chi classes 3 times per week with a healthy diet can help achieve steady and healthy weight loss.

21. Tai Chi is known to be highly beneficial to those with mental health concerns, such as anxiety, OCD, depression, and similar.

The combination of slow breathing, regulated slow movements, and a quiet mind can help combat other overwhelming feelings and help a person remain calm. The meditative value of Tai Chi for mental health conditions is considered invaluable.

22. Tai Chi provides the elderly with an ideal way to keep moving and stay healthy without injuring themselves.

Since the exercise movements are so low-impact, many classes are offered to older citizens or the aging who want to keep mobile and flexible.

To sum up

man with long hair is practicing Taijiquan on the beach
Natalie Magic / Shutterstock.com

These are just some of the interesting facts about Tai Chi that are out there. Unfortunately, the history of Tai Chi can become a little murky as the lineage of the martial art is not well documented. One thing remains certain; many people who start learning Tai Chi just to find out more about it often become hooked and speak very highly of the mental, emotional, and physical health benefits.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He covers topics like spirituality, philosophy, finance, sports, games, and food. JC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration at Mercyhurst University. He is a certified USPTA professional who teaches tennis in the New York City Metropolitan area. He has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.