About Tai Chi


Chris Headlee at Pioneers Park, Lincoln.Photo by David M. Frye

Tai Chi Chuan (tie chee chwan) also spelled Taijiquan (tie gee chwen) is a system of exercise and personal development from China, probably evolving from Qigong to include self-defense. Today, Tai Chi has many styles and is still being refined by those who study and teach.

Tai Chi practice strengthens muscles and joints to promote overall conditioning, increased endurance and improved balance. Flexibility is enhanced by the natural movements in a well-rounded Tai Chi workout. Some practitioners may achieve aerobic conditioning levels and most enjoy the combination of an energizing yet relaxing workout.

The repetitive patterns (Forms) involve no impact or physical contact instead emphasizing slow, flowing motions and controlled movements to provide challenging ways to increase strength and endurance without risk.

Origins of Taijiquan

Two centuries ago in The Taijiquan Classics, one poem insists that Taiji is for longevity while the next page depicts using Taiji to fend off a gang of thugs. Taiji may have been created by Master Chang San Feng after watching a crane and a snake fight. Later, the Chen family introduced one of the earliest styles. There is no one answer to where Taijiquan came from, why or how.

Tai Chi Chuan means “supreme ultimate fist” and refers to Tai Chi as the highest martial art. Today it is practiced worldwide for health and fitness benefits by many; martial applications are a lesser priority for most students, even in China.

Chris Headlee at Pioneers Park, Lincoln, engaging in her form practice. —Photo by David M. Frye,

Chris Headlee, 37 Form. Photo by David M. Frye

Modern History

  • 1500 A.D.: Taoist philosophy blends with physical Taiji
  • 1950s: In China, Forms “simplified”
  • 1970s: In New York, Cheng Man Ching teaches a modified Yang style.

 Major Styles

  • Chen (most martial)
  • Yang (most common)
  • Wu (two separate styles)
  • Sun (a combination)


About Tai Chi Fitness

The Tai Chi Fitness Forms (sequences) are modified to progressively teach traditional Tai Chi principles and postures while minimizing a beginner’s difficulties and hazardous positions. The Beginning Form, Form #2 and the Continuing Form are derived mainly from Yang style, especially the Simplified (24) Form and Master Cheng’s 37 Form.

A student receives guidance from Chris Headlee in adopting the right posture for his form. —Photo by David M. Frye,

A student receives guidance from Chris Headlee.
         Photo by David M. Frye,

Tai Chi Fitness Forms are balanced for left and right side practice to create harmony of mind and body…energy and breath… These symmetrical Form patterns equally challenge and condition both sides of the brain as well as both left and right sides of the body. The balanced Forms have been arranged by Chris Headlee exclusively for Tai Chi Fitness students; lists and notes are available in class.