The Name Tai Chi

There is often a misunderstanding about the name ‘Tai Chi’. It translates as ‘grand ultimate’ and as ‘chuan’ means ‘fist’ which is the generic term for martial arts most people read it as ‘Grand Ultimate Martial Art’ and see it as arrogantly stating that it’s the best martial art which is wrong.

Tai Chi is a kung fu system and had many names like ‘deceptive boxing’ and ‘soft cotton boxing’, what most people call the yin/yang symbol is properly named the ‘tai chi’ symbol and existed for a long time before the art representing the harmony of Taoism, so legend has it that a scribe in the emperor’s court named the art after the symbol whilst watching Yang Lu Chan the founder of the Yang style perform.

So Tai Chi existed long before the art and the ‘grand ultimate’ stands for the unconditioned, unborn, immortal part of the human being that exists before he is born, after his body exists and while he is alive that all meditation and art brings forth. When conditions and that which we can name arises the dance of yin and yang begins, when they are harmonised they blend into the grand ultimate of tai chi.

So ‘Tai Chi’ is the same as the the ‘Tao’ which is the ‘Do’ in ‘Karate Do’, ‘Aikido’, ‘Judo’ etc and the same harmony is alluded to in ‘Goju’ and ‘Wado’.

This Taoist philosophy pervades all traditional martial arts, their ethos and philosophy and Tai Chi is no different.

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