Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan) is a Chinese martial art. 拳 Chuan means fist, but in this context pugilism / boxing. As a strategy, the ancient alchemy theory of 太極 Tai Chi is applied. Briefly, it is a study of the interaction of two interconnected and interdependent parts (forces) known as 阴阳 Yinyang.
Not only is Tai Chi theory applied to Chuan as an external theory of strategy regarding the boxing techniques, but also internally to Qi; energy cultivation, circulation, and the articulation of the body based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Qigong is one of the healing modalities of TCM. It can also be considered as a form of Sport medicine in relationship to Chuan.
Reviewing Tai Chi Chuan’s history will help to clarify this point. Its creator was a military general; Chen Wangting. He used an earlier general’s (Qi Jiguang) method (Northern Changquan; Long Fist) as his foundation. He infused it with Dao Yin; an early form of Qigong (exercise based on the paradigm of Qi flow throughout the body). Internally (yin) is the study of Qi and its cultivation. Externally (Yang) is the expression of Qi as martial art techniques in the art of Tai Chi Chuan.
Chinese alchemy is the precursor to today’s Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In the past, anecdotal evidence was sufficient. If it worked numerous times in the past, it is considered valid. There is no reason to understand why and how it works.
Presently, alchemy is considered a pseudoscience by the scientific community because it does not adhere to today’s scientific strict rigorous standard of double blind empirical proof verification. Although, alchemy in many cases has been reinterpreted to meet scientific empirical proof. It should be noted Qi flow in the body is a paradigm of TCM. Western medicine does not even consider it. In China, both eastern and western medicine are practiced side by side. In China they are considered alternative means. In the west, Chinese medicine is considered complimentary because by law it must conform to western standards of medicine.
Due to Tai Chi Chuan’s slow, soft, and steady methodical training methods (the yin aspects) many seek it out as an excellent form of therapeutic exercise. In this case, it is a form of energy work (Qigong) The Yang aspects are only taught to those who seek to become real boxers. Boxing, although it can render a practitioner strong and healthy, it has many dangerous elements that cause injury too. In this case it is a means of unarmed self-defense. Depending on the practice, Tai Chi Chuan can be adapted for martial combat, sport competition, therapeutic, theatrical. spiritual attainments, or just a fun activity to socialize with friends.