Taiji Boxing aims at benefiting the internal organs. This practice appeared during the time of the Six Dynasties. The Wudang Daoist priest Zhang Sanfeng founded the thirteen forms of Taiji Boxing in the Ming dynasty and was respected as the earliest ancestor of Taiji Boxing. In the Qing dynasty, martial artist Wang Zongyue of Shanxi interpreted the principles of Taiji Boxing using the concepts of taiji (the Supreme Ultimate) and yin and yang in the Book of Changes. He wrote the book On Taiji Boxing ( 太極拳論 Taijiquan Lun ). From then on, Taiji Boxing got its formal name.
Taiji Boxing has three origins: firstly, it synthesizes various forms of martial art skills common in the Ming Dynasty, especially the thirty-two-movement Long Punch. Secondly, it integrates Daoist gymnastics, exhalation and inhalation exercises, and the Daoist medical theory of Channels and Collaterals. Thirdly, it interprets the principles of Taiji Boxing in light of yin and yang, the Five Phrases, Inner Alchemy, and the Book of Changes.
Taiji Boxing is divided into Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu and Sun styles. Each of them shares these characteristics:
- Quietly using one's consciousness, and making the body move with it. Closely coordinating breath and movement. Keeping the breath steady, deep and natural.
- Keeping the body upright and comfortable, flexible and slow, with strength and weakness complementing each other.
- Making the forms round and smooth, coherent and harmonious, integrating emptiness and fullness.
Taiji Boxing contains rich Daoist concepts. The practitioners always locate themselves in the transformations of the Supreme Ultimate and yin and yang. There are unity of opposites between strong and weak, empty and full, movement and stillness, quick and slow, opening and closing, bending and stretching.
In a broad sense, Taiji Boxing includes the arts of the Taiji broadsword, Taiji sword, Taiji spear, and pushing hands.