The full name of this ancient Chinese martial art is Tai Chi
Chuan (Wade-Giles romanization, "Tajiquan" in Pinyin). In English, the
correct pronunciation is usually "Tie" (as in bow tie) "Chee" (as in
cheetah) "Chwan" (with a long "a" s
ound, as in want). It is most often
translated as "Grand Ultimate System" or "Supreme Ultimate Fist."
Tai Chi Chuan is most often referred to as an internal martial art,
indicating that the emphasis is placed on strengthening the mind,
circulating the Chi or vitality, and relaxing the body so that it is
free to move. Beyond its martial applications, however, Tai Chi is also
a complete system of physics and philosphy, best characterized by the
Tai Chi symbol known to Americans as the Yin-Yang circle.
In the Tai Chi symbol, two semicircles of dark (Yin) and light
(Yang) make a complete circle as they constantly merge into each other,
symbolizing the spirit of "moving harmony." This harmony of motion
succinctly describes the laws of Yin and Yang which assert that in the
phenomenal world (both physical and energetic) all existance is a
relationship between complimentary but opposing pairs. This can be
observed daily in the relationship between night/day, winter/summer,
female/male, negative/positive, and countless others. In this system,
Yang represents all that is expressive, productive and
strength-oriented. Its opposite, Yin, is receptive, yeilding and
In the martial aspect of Tai Chi, the relationship between the yeilding
force of Yin and the unbending force of Yang forms the core of the
fighting technique. The yeilding force is used to avoid or redirect an
opponent's attack, while the unbending force is used to counterattack.
This change from yeilding to unbending is acheived in the form of a
circle. Therefore, the main pattern of Tai Chi Chuan is like many
circles spiralling continually without end. In application, these
principles lead to a force which Tai Chi master Ching Man Ching once
described as "repelling 2,000 pounds with four ounces."