Martial Tai Chi

Martial Tai Chi may sound like some kind of a specific and strange Tai Chi style that is unlike most of the rest of Tai Chi. However, it is important to note that Tai Chi began as a martial art and that when you translate the full name, Tai Chi Chuan, it means Grand Ultimate Fist.

Martial Tai Chi V.S. Tai Chi for Health

A lot of people today try to claim that martial Tai Chi is a perversion of Tai Chi and not the same as (by which they mean inferior to) the Tai Chi for health.

They state that Tai Chi and Tai Chi Chuan are somehow from different roots and that they are a different art created for entirely different purposes and not at all related.

I have even had several folks with lots of letters like PHD behind their name tell me that Tai Chi was never a fighting art and that I made it up because I like teaching martial arts. I was mostly astounded because I thought having an advanced degree of any kind meant that you did your homework before making crazy statements that are easily disproven by anyone who cares to get publicly and readily available facts.

Grand Ultimate Fist

Grand Ultimate Fist meant the best fighting art available.

If Tai Chi was not originally Tai Chi Chuan then what were they talking about when they named it? Grand Ultimate what? If they were stating that this was the grand ultimate health method then they would have named it that. This would not have been difficult as the Chinese language has specific words for health and method and any other aspect of these words that they would care to use.

The best fighting method in existence?

What could be the reason for naming an art form the Grand Ultimate Fist? That is quite a moniker and one that would draw a lot of questions and challenges in mainland China.

The name of the art frankly states that not only is it a fighting style but by those who named it and put it forth it was considered the best fighting method in existence. That is quite a statement to make in China the land of the Shaolin fighting monks and Kung Fu which dates back to at least 500A.D.

Watered down Tai Chi.

Of course as most people are well aware there is quite a bit of Tai Chi that is practiced today that is not martial Tai Chi. However, any legitimate art that can be called Tai Chi started with the martial Tai Chi and can be traced back to a family style that used it martially within the last 100 years. So, there is Tai Chi that started out as martial Tai Chi but that can not be considered martial Tai Chi anymore.

Unfortunately it has been my experience that the non-martial Tai Chi has been watered down and stripped of its amazing health properties as well because those who are teaching it usually do not understand the art they are bastardizing at all let alone the martial aspect of it.

So does it live up to the name?

What is it about martial Tai Chi that makes it able to carry the name grand ultimate fist? I will be going into this a bit in my next few posts where I am writing about the family styles and then at some point I will do a follow up to this post where I specifically write about the specific high level fighting techniques that are found in all martial Tai Chi.

This is Part 2 of 5.

  1. Tai Chi Styles
  2. Martial Tai Chi
  3. Chen Style Tai Chi
  4. Yang Style Tai Chi
  5. Wu Style Tai Chi


  1. Dan Eidson, DCH, LMT says

    What is Grand terminus Pugilism, or T’ai-chi Ch’uan?
    T’ai-chi Ch’uan is a branch of pugilism with an outer form of
    SPARRING but based upon the theories of the Grand Terminus Diagram to which they adhere as regards Yin and Yang, insubstantiality and substantiality, firmness and softness, activity and inactivitiy. During its practice one has ease of mind and absorbtion in ones intention, with neither motives not presentiments but an outer look of emptiness. This is the Negative Terminus. The outer formations display Yin and Yang substantiality. This the the Grand Terminus. This embodiment of Yin and Yang, firmness and softness, advance and retreat, is the mother of all matters. In this pugilism, firmness is concealed in softness, and inactivity included in activity, each being the cause of the other.
    (Tai Chi Chuan-Its Effects and Practical Applications)
    H.C. Chao
    Republic of China 1981

    Without the martial application Tai Chi Chuan/Tai Chi has become widely known for its health benefits. With all due respect if you are just flailing your hands and feet around in the air without knowing an applicable reason for the postures I call that Tai Cheese.

  2. Yung yung says

    Nice note at the end Mr Chao. One must “siu lien” Tao before reay understand Tai Chi

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