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Part 9: The Popular Modern Styles Of Taijiquan

Other than the major forms described so far, there are other popular forms of more modern origin. These have become notable in recent years and there is a good number of exponents who practice nothing else.

Some of these forms come from noted masters of the art and are their personal expression of the system which they learnt or those who have created new sequences unique to themselves and their students. Others are forms created for competition and for general health care.

Regardless of origin, these new forms have a definite influence and place in the martial art and health care communities and should be covered in the interest of furthering our knowledge into the expressions of the art.

The China National Forms

Some of the most popular forms practiced today are forms developed by the Chinese government to promote the art both as a form of health exercise and as a sport. The first of these forms was the 24 posture simplified Taijiquan form developed in 1956. This form is by far the most popular of the national forms since the public has been exposed to this form for much longer.

Later a long 88 posture form was standardised. Both these early forms were based on the Yang style of Taijiquan and the postures within are essentially the same. These forms were taught to the masses in China as a form of healthy exercise and do not really stress the martial aspects of the form.

With the adoption of Wushu as an Olympic demonstration sport, the Chinese government has also increased the promotion of competition Taijiquan routines. There is one such shortened routine for each of the major styles of Taijiquan as well as forms that combine aspects of all the different styles of Taijiquan. These amalgamated forms do not contain all the techniques of the individual styles but only some selected techniques representative of the different parent styles.

The competition forms are now taught all over the world to competitors and to people who simply want to take it up for health. Because of the official recognition by the Chinese government and the Olympic Council for these forms, they have become the forms of choice for many people.

The Shorter Yang Form Of Zheng Man Qing

Without doubt, the most influential of these new forms in the West is the 37 posture shortened Yang form of Zheng Man Qing. Zheng was a disciple of the great master Yang Cheng Fu. Zheng developed the short form to enable the art to be learnt more quickly and to be less time consuming so that it can be practiced easily with modern day hectic schedules.

Zheng's great skill in Taijiquan made his form very popular. Today it is one of the predominant forms practiced in the West. Many of Zheng's students are today noted masters of the art and continue to promote his short form for both health and self-defence.

The shortened form is still Yang style Taijiquan but with the repetitions and some postures removed. The theories and techniques remain unchanged. Almost all of Zheng's works on Taijiquan have been translated into English and their influence is substantial.

The form is mostly extent in East Asia and in America, the two places where Zheng lived. The impact that Zheng and his form has on the Taijiquan community at large is great. His contribution to the art was substantial.

The Tung Family Taijiquan

The Tung family Taijiquan began with Tung Ying Chieh who was a student of Yang Cheng Fu. Before studying with Yang Cheng Fu, however, Tung had already studied the Wu Yu Xiang style of Taijiquan from Li Xiang Yun.

Later he would make the Yang style his main form. In addition to the traditional Yang style forms, Tung also created a fast form of Taijiquan unique to his lineage. This fast form was based on the fast form of Wu Yu Xiang style Taijiquan and Yang style Taiji Long Boxing. This new form was taught as an advanced form to worthy students.

Tung's ability at Taijiquan made him a sought after master and he later moved to Hong Kong and popularised the art there. Today, the Tung family Taijiquan has spread across the world to countries like America, England, Europe, Australia and in regions like South East Asia. The Tung family continues to teach their art to a growing number of enthusiasts.



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