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Taoist Tai Chi
Summary: The original Tai Chi was also a Taoist way of life that Chang San Feng followed.
The word 'Tao' (sometimes spelled as Dao) has the literal meaning of path, way, or truth. Tao is primarily associated with Taoism (hence the word), but Confucianism also refers to it since the social ethics and moral teachings of the two are blended together.
Tao or Taoism is the based on the principle that change is inevitable, regardless of the effort to stop it. And to properly harmonize oneself to the changes, changes within the self is imperative. Change is eternal; there is no end in that change. The symbol of Tao is two opposite teardrop, wedged together to form a circle, one called the Yin and the other the Yang.
Traditional Tai Chi can be considered a Taoist way of life, or Taoist Tai Chi, evidently since combat and health qualities of Taoist Tai Chi are founded in the teachings of religious Taoism. Its conception started when a Taoist monk Chang San Feng dreamt about two divine spirits of a crane and a snake fighting. Feng was amazed at the skills of the combatant that he created an art of fighting based on the divine spirits movements.
Chang San Feng was an astute follower of the Taoist philosophy. He was honored by the Emperor Ying-Tsung as 'a Holy man who achieved the Tao'. Eventually, Chang San Feng's teachings of Tai Chi were influenced deeply by his Taoism nature. The principles of yielding, the soft over hard, slow over fast, wrong over right are all principles of Taoism. But don't get the false idea. The Tai Chi Chang San Feng created was still a fast fighting Tai Chi which may contrast the Tai Chi today which is soft, flowing and graceful version.
Taoism teaches about contemplation and appreciation of nature. And it is quite apparent too that the Taoist Tai Chi movements are reflections of nature, the natural action of animals in their habitats, and the beauty that amazed the author of Tai Chi during his wanderings.
Chang San Feng was from the Wudang sect of the Taoism religion, a renowned sect within the streams of Taoism. The Wudang sect advocates the 'return to origin' principle of Tao, which means 'returning' ones body to pure health, like that of a child, which is the origin. Naturally, Feng injected some of this Taoist principle in Tai Chi.
Taoist Tai Chi has evolved since that day, and its applications have been made to more practical uses. Very few were those Tai Chi practitioners who follow the Taoism lifestyle. But the vestige of Taoism in Tai Chi still remain intact, its principle is still the driving force of the art even though the Taoist living has long but gone.