What is the History of Tai Chi?

The known history and true history mix here with legends. Where there is an official history, there is also an unofficial one.

The times we live has witness the expansion of a Tai Chi more or less authentic throughout the world. Until recent time, Tai Chi was a very secret and elitist tradition. In order to perpetuate in the purest possible way the transmission of art, only a few candidates were selected based on certain qualifications to receive the teaching. The majority of students was considered like lost. The lineage of the Art and practice could thus be preserved without degradation. This approach may be considered nowaday as unkind and rude but it reflect a society where living conditions were harsh and where survival for many was a permanent challenge. This way of teaching has reversed in recent decades for the best – with more people practiting, but also for the worse – with a dilution of teaching in most of the case. The Chinese civilization that perpetuate an history of 5000 years, initiated in the twentieth century a radical evolution phase. During that period, many Masters have disappeared and large a scale of knowledge was lost with them. It is thus important to note that the teaching of the great majority of Tai Chi Schools today, whether in China or in the world is profoundly different from the genuine Tai Chi. These new schools even though they often claim heirs to this tradition, are a reflection of our chaotic period in which the authentic knowledge is replaced by copies denatured but commercially more apt to respond to the popular spread image of Tai Chi, but not to what learning Tai Chi suppose. It also a respond to the quest of a new generation who thirst for a new religion more rational, less archaic and who can touch better their concerns and desires. It is indeed more accessible, but it is also without comparison shallower and empty.

Some truly great masters and experts, however, understood the need to adapt to this new social context and began a profound reform of Tai Chi teaching method with a more methodical approach, scientific, open, ect. But even with the best teachers with the best methods of teaching, Tai Chi remains a complex art where being a disciple of a great teacher or a great school is not a guarantee of success, as repeating some smart words is far from proof of any wisdom.. It is indeed the responsibility of each individual to carry their own level of practice of the Art.