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Is Tai Chi Chuan the same as Taijiquan?

De Dui-fang


Uitgaven van Golden Flower Leden


TQT Interview met Job Koesoemobroto









Yes, it is one and the same. Just a different way of spelling. There is lots of confusion about the ways you can write or translate Chinese characters into Western text.

Often people in class ask questions as: is Tai Chi the same as Taiji? What’s the difference between Chi Kung and Qigong? Is Chi in Tai Chi the same as Chi as in Chi Kung?

In one of the LinkedIn group discussions Michael de Scheemaker wrote a very clear article to clear up some of the questions.


T'ai4 Chi2 Ch'üan2, or more often (and wrongly) Tai Chi Chuan, and Taìjíquán are different transliterations for the Chinese 太極拳 (modern: 太极拳): T'ai4 Chi2 Ch'üan2 is the Wade-Giles transliteration, the other transliteration is Hanyu Pinyin (literally: Chinese language spell sounds"). Pinyin has mostly replaced Wade-Giles, except in countries that haven't gone metric yet.

Jí, by itself, translates as 1) "the utmost point; extreme"; as 2) "pole, as in North (South) Pole" and as 3) "extremely; exceedingly". However, 太極拳 Taijiquan is cognate with 太極圖 taìjítu, or Taiji diagram.

In the Xiandai Hanyu Cidian, or Dictionary of Modern Chinese, a prominent Chinese-Chinese dictionary from the PRC, the definition for Taijiquan, used in Chinese does not refer to the separate meanings of 太 taì and 極 jí but offers a straightforward description as a soft and gentle boxing art which can strengthen the body and repel sickness. There is probably a much more comprehensive entry in the 辭海 Cihai, a standard PRC Chinese encyclopedic reference work.

Taìjí is a Daoist term used in the Daoist creation myth. At first there was 無極 Wùjí, literally "not have utmost point" or "not have extreme", commonly translated as the Great Void or the Boundless Void. Wùjí gave rise to Taìjí, literally "greatest utmost point" or "greatest extreme", in which "greatest" is a superlative which denotes a qualification of scale or size, i.e. it is synonymous with "largest" rather than with "best".

Taiji refers to two opposing and complementary forces, which exist in a continuously changing balance, commonly referred to as 陰 Yin and 陽 Yang. Yin and Yang aren't properly poles, in that they aren't static. Their size changes relative to each other, however, together they always form a complete whole outside of which nothing exists. The Taiji-diagram is a representation of this idea.

We can never eliminate one or the other. If we attempt to eliminate Yang, often the scapegoat of choice as it is denotes the male or active and is commonly equated with violence, whatever remains will be divided again to form a new balance between Yin and Yang. Moreover, all Yang contains an element of Yin and vice versa.

Taijiquan, therefore, is a martial art which turns Daoist precepts into a 拳法 quanfa (ch'üanfa) or fighting, literally: "fist" or "boxing", method which employs the interplay between Yin and Yang. And it's good for your health, too.

太氣拳Taìqìquán , incidentally, is the Chinese reading of the Japanese "Taikiken", a name chosen by Kenichi Sawai for an art known in China as 大成拳 Dachengquan, or Great Achievement Boxing, devised by Sawai's teacher, Wang Xiangzhai. Dachengquan owes a great deal to, sometimes even regarded as a synonymous to Yiquan, a brand of Xingyiquan (Form Intention Boxing), but also borrows heavily from Baguazhang (8 Trigram Palm), relatives of Taijiquan, also referenced in Dachengquan. The Japanese for Taijiquan would be Taikyokuken.


Many thanks to Michael to clarify this confusion.
So to be short: Yes Tai Chi is the same as Taiji and Qi Kung is the same as Qigong.

And is Chi in Tai Chi the same as in Chi Kung? No, as Michael said, in Pinyin Jí 極 in Taìjí can be translated into “extreme”. The Chi in Chi Kung is written in Pinyin as Qì 氣, which means (breath)energy.

Many people also use the spelling T'ai Chi Ch'uan (simplified Wade Giles). Interestingly enough, in Esperanto it's spelled Tajgicjuan.

Within the Golden Flower School we use the 'old' spelling Tai Chi Chuan, because the founder (master San Gee Tam) is an American. And like Michael jokingly said, all countries that haven't gone metric yet use the 'old' spelling.

Job Koesoemobroto, November 3 2011


You can contact Michael de Scheemaker via his website www.wumingwushu.com