As is the case with most martial arts, there are many people who are credited with inventing Tai Chi. Today, the man most commonly associated with its invention is Yang Lu Chan, who gave his first demonstration in the Imperial Court of China. However, where any martial art is concerned, there are usually many different variations on the style, each with its own inventor and philosophy.
Tai Chi is a hybrid form of martial art, which means that it incorporates both soft and hard techniques. Generally speaking, soft techniques make use of the opponent’s energy with techniques like throws and joint locks. Hard techniques involve generating your own energy, which include throwing a kick or punch.
Unlike most martial arts, Tai Chi is better known as a popular form of exercise today than it is as a form of self-defense. As the techniques and popularity of Tai Chi have evolved, defending one’s self has been overtaken by more straightforward and practical styles, such as jujitsu, Thai boxing, Western boxing and wrestling.
Tai Chi dates back to the 1500s, meaning there are a host of people who are credited with inventing it in various ways. The main inventors are usually referred to as the Five Elders: Gee Sin, Ng Mui, Bak Mai, Fun To-Tak and Miu Hin.
In some cases, you’ll find that Tai Chi classes use a style that was invented much more recently. Variations on the martial arts aspects of this style have been heavily adapted as ways to promote health and fitness, which is the principal benefit of practicing this ancient art.