Tai Chi Chuan is part of the martial disciplines called ‘Wushu’ in Chinese.
In French, the transcription from Mandarin wushu can denote Chinese Martial Arts.
But in China, the term "wǔshù" (武術 or 武术) corresponds to the French expression « art martial ».
武 (wǔ) : this ancient sinogramme, represents the root "to stop" under a « halberd ». The idea is of a guardian’s arm ; the pictogramme depicts a protective talisman at the entrance of a « house ». It stops thieves and demons from entering and harming contents or the physical integrity of the inhabitants (agression, illness). The ideogramme has taken on a more general meaning, it refers to war and combat. The French adjective "martial" is a fitting translation.
術 or 术 (shù) : The ideogramme ‘Shu’ represents, the skilll in the art : extensive knowledge ; medecine ; the art of combat ; the art of war ; techniques of soldiering and diplomacy, etc... Here, the term « art » is to be understood in the old way : that of a craftsman, who learns his craft through long and rigourous apprenticeship.
Tai Chi Chuan Martial Art
Tai Chi Chuan is an Internal Martial Art (Nei Jia), as is Hsin Yi, le Ba Gua Zhang, Yi Quan as opposed to the so-called « hard » martial arts of the External school (see article "Two martial trends").
"In Tai Chi Chuan the whole body must be loose and soft. Too much physical strength will slow improvement. Better to abandon stiff energy and always be natural and loose. Through soft practice, physical strength will turn into internal power... Most people who learn Tai Chi Chuan look at it as a form of exercise. Tai Chi is a very good form of exercise, however, pratising Tai Chi as a martial art, with an understanding of the applications and performing each move correctly with the right intention, makes it a superior form of exercise."
Extract from the Red Book of Great Master Tung Ying Chieh.
Martial applications are developed in soft contact pair work using circular flowing movements from the Tai Chi Chuan Form. This exercise brings a better understanding of the Form, of oneself and of the partner. Pair work tests stability, 'rooted' stance and correct positioning for a better awareness of the body and martial efficiency.
Then there are Tuishou and Sanshou : pair work, feet in a stationary position or mobile, where the Tai Chi Chuan practitioner does not counter the opponents force but deflects it, uses it and transforms it for real martial efficiency.
Once the Form is mastered, the martial aspect can be developed by the use of arms : fan, knife, sword, staffs, perch...
All these practices are recognised in National, European and International competitions. Tai Chi Chuan was one of the disciplines selected for the 2008 Olypmic Games in Beijing.