Tai Chi Chuan Styles
Historically, there are 5 styles of Tai Chi Chuan.
C) Wu (these three are the most popular),
E) Sun (the last two are quite rare and supported by very few schools).
However, now there are more styles – the so called combination styles – that are created by various teachers (approved or not) and are less popular, though not necessarily of lower quality. There is also the simplified Tai Chi Chuan, which is the most popular style in Greece and worldwide. This style is for the most a simplified Yang style and is a result of the Chinese government’s efforts to offer the masses an easy and beneficial way of exercise. In actuality, this style accounts for the rapid popularization of Tai Chi Chuan in China and worldwide, thanks to its simplicity. However, the practitioner who has more demands should seek something more complete and deep than this simplified Tai Chi Chuan.
The last years have been created, within the Wushu society, modern, physically demanding forms especially for Competitions. On the one hand, this is positive because it contributes to the spread of Tai Chi Chuan to other age groups and other types of people. On the other hand, it should be viewed with skepticism concerning the maintenance of an authentic, rich and complete system of exercise that is also a genuine martial art. We do not disagree with the organization of competitions or the participation in them, as long as students do not aim solely at prizes and titles, because in that case the essence of Tai Chi is lost.
Concluding, it must be said that although the basic principles are common in all (historical) styles of Tai Chi Chuan, they are expressed through the forms and the techniques of each style with small or even serious differences. Thus, serious students should do some investigation in order to find out what suits their needs, and not just go to the nearest school.
In Greece, Tai Chi Chuan is an official sport and is approved by the Secretariat General of Sports, through the Greek Wushu / Kungfu Federation. Our Athletic Association, Aeiroon, is member of the said Federation. However, the vast majority of Greek Tai Chi associations and teachers are not members of the Greek Wushu / Kungfu Federation (for reasons beyond the purposes of this text). This does not mean that these schools or teachers are lacking competence in comparison with the members of the Federation. A good instructor may be, or may not be, a member of the Federation (the opposite is also true!). The majority of associations and instructors, members as well as non-members of the Federation, teach Tai Chi Chuan as a healing – meditative art, failing to pay attention to its martial aspects. There are very few schools that teach Tai Chi Chuan as a complete martial art, practicing its fighting aspects too.