ISTANBUL TAI CHI CLUB
Founded by Ahmet Ozkan to introduce and develop Chen style tai chi in Turkey, Istanbul Tai Chi Club (ITC) is the first Chen Style Tai Chi center in Turkey. ITC was born out of the reference and suggestion of Ahmet Ozkan’s teacher, Master Liu Yong. Our club is also affiliated to international tai chi schools of Master Liu Yong based in China. Being one of the best internal disciples of Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei, a 19th generation Chen family member, Master Liu Yong also taught martial arts in the Chinese police army.
At ITC, Chen style solo forms are taught by Ahmet Ozkan to people in a way that is commensurate with their skills. ITC students will also have an opportunity to benefit from Master Liu Yong’s great ability and experience, who said he would be pleased to come to Istanbul for workshops and shows. In the future, it is among our plans to arrange group trips to the master's school in China, tai chi’s motherland.
Tai chi chuan or taijiquan is one of the most famous close-range martial arts of China. The distinguishing character of tai chi chuan is that it integrates the bioenergy flow called chi or qi in China which is believed to circulate along certain paths and vessels in our bodies with certain breathing techniques and martial movements in harmony.
Taichi chuan is not all composed of fast and strong movements, instead it is a combination of speed and power with slow and relaxed movements in line with the Yin-Yang principle. In other words, for the maximum power to unleash suddenly, it must be born out of relaxation and stillnes. Tai chi chuan goes parallel with our body, not against it. Tai chi chin na, which is the art of control and seizing of an opponent’s joints formed the basis for such Japanese martial arts as Aikido and Juijitsu.
Taichi requires the training of qi, body and mind together. It obtains the explosive power necessary for martial applications from the internal energy of the body. Tai chi exercises that help build body strength are also believed to strengthen the immune system of the body as they improve the blood and energy circulation. This feature of tai chi caused it to be generally known as a series of dance-like routines for health rather than a martial art in the west. The primary reason for this is that tai chi’s martial applications were little known up until 15-20 years ago in the western world. Tai chi chuan’s martial applications are not immediately taught to beginners until a skill of controlling body and chi at will is developed to a certain extent by the help of solo routines. The amount of time that passes from doing tai chi for health to doing it as a martial art depends on the quality and intensity of training, as well as the student’s talent.
I would like to state that today tai chi routines are performed by many in the world including China for health and relaxation purposes, and most people are satisfied with that. As for martial applications, they come out as a way which martial artist candidates are expected to continue in their tai chi travel.
Tai chi chuan training is composed of the following steps:
For health and body strength,
1) Qigong; a series of chi and breathing exercises
2) Silk reeling (Chan szu jin); circular movement training exercises, most pronounced in Chen style tai chi chuan
3) Certain solo forms with or without weapons (like sword, broad sword, spear, falchion, stick, pole) that vary according to the style of tai chi performed
When taichi is considered as a health improving training, these three groups of exercises mentioned above are performed. As a matter of fact, the solo movements in items 2 and 3 above were derived from martial movements which assume an imaginary opponent fighting against the person doing the solo routines.
Taichi as a martial art requires the following additional training steps,
4) Push hands (Tui shou), two-person standard training exercises; Two students try to control each other without losing contact in stationary or moving positions. These set of exercises were created to help students to learn how to listen, stick and adhere to the opponent without getting serious injury.
5) Martial applications of push hands
6) Martial applications of movements performed in solo forms and tai chi chin na training
The trainings mentioned in number 5 and 6 above are advanced level real tai chi fighting often with full contact.
In Chen taichi, there are 5 levels:
- Hui: Forms are learned with an emphasis on correct directions, angles, keeping the torso upright, relaxing the shoulders and elbows. The internal energy is not felt yet. The movements are external rather than internal and circular.
- Dui: The forms at the hui level are corrected by putting more emphasis on dantian led, smooth and circular origination of movements rather than the external characteristics of the hui level.
- Hao: One can direct the qi in the body with well coordinated smooth movements and the combat skill in each form and applications can be started to study.
- Miao: This is a master level in which he can easily dissolve an oncoming attack. Fajin and gong fu energy are well developed.
- Jue: The highest level. Only few grandmasters achieve this level. The circular characteristics of taichi are mastered almost invisibly. Usually grandmasters at this level discover new things, can make innovations or compose new forms.
All these levels require years to achieve. Most students stay in the dui level, some can reach the hao level.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TAI CHI CHUAN
Although there are several stories as to the origin of tai chi, based on the historical researches and evidences found in China particularly in 1930-1960, today it is generally accepted that taijiquan was developed by a Chinese genaral called Chen Wangting in the 1660s, 20 years after the Ming dynasty had been over. Chen Wangting created taijiquan out of his own martial experience and a book “32 form cannon fist” written by Qi Jiguang (1528-1587), which combined the methods of 16 famous fighting schools prevailing in China at that time. Another important invention of Chen Wangting is push hands exercises, which made it possible to develop martial techniques without getting injured.
Chen Wangting originally formed the five set shadow boxing series, a 108 form long-range fighting set and a dynamic set called pao chui. These 7 sets were passed down from generation to generation in the Chen family and kept as a secret. Yang Luchan (1799-1872) was the first person outside the Chen family to learn Chen style taijiquan. Impressed by the outstanding ability of Yang Luchan, Chen Changxing (1771-1853) accepted to teach him the original old form. Later, Yang Luchan and his generations developed Yang style tai chi. As Chen family taijiquan were spread outside the family, different styles like Wu, Sun, Zhao Bao were also developed. Today, Chen family taijiquan is primarily divided into two:
New form (Xin Jia)
Created by the 17th generation Chen family member Chen Fa ke.
Old form (Lao Jia)
Composed by the 15th generation Chen family member Chen Chang Xing out of the 7 set routines that had been prevailing until then.
|1st routine (83 form)||1st routine (74 form)|
|2nd routine (71 form)||2nd routine (40 form)|
|5 types of push hands||5 types of push hands|
In addition, there is the so called “small frame” Chen taijiquan. The most famous weapon routines of Chen taijiquan are the 49 from straight sword and the 23 form broad sword. There are also double swords, double broad swords, long pole, spear routines, which are less known in the world.
CHARACTERISTICS OF CHEN TAI CHI IN MARTIAL APPLICATIONS
Chen style tai chi is very effective in rendering the opponent ineffective even with one defense movement. It has four main characteristics;