There are so many different stories that describe the origins of Tai Chi that the real one remains a mystery.
However, the concepts of Tai Chi go back to the beginning of written Chinese history from Taoism and Confucianism. The founder of Tai Chi is believed to be Zhang Sanfeng.
There are stories that claim Zhang Sanfeng left his monastery to become a Taoist hermit and created his own form of fighting based on softness.
Sanfeng is thought to have said:
“In every movement, every part of the body must be light and agile and strung together. The postures should be without breaks. Motion should be rooted in the feet, released through the legs, directed by the waist and expressed by the fingers. Substantial and insubstantial movements must be clearly differentiated.”
Below are the estimated dates of origin of the five different styles:
- Chen-style of Chen Wangting (1580-1660)
- Yang-style of Yang Lu-ch’an (1799-1872)
- Wu- or Wu (Hao)-style of Wu Yu-hsiang (1812-1880)
- Wu-style of Wu Ch’uan-yu (1834-1902) and his son Wu Chien-ch’uan (1870-1942)
- Sun-style of Sun Lu-t’ang (1861-1932)