MODERN STYLES of Tai Chi
Since the 1950’s, there have been many modern taijiquan routines created in an effort to make the art more accessible to the masses. These simplified routines have become an important part of the curricula of traditional schools, providing progressive levels of difficulty and complexity for students. Now, rather than starting with a traditional long routine that may have 108 movements and require 3 years to learn, students can learn a complete 5 minute routine in a few weeks, and then build on their knowledge while learning increasingly complex routines. In many cases this actually speeds up the learning process, enabling students to master the long routines in a shorter period of time.
Many of the people who benefit from the practice of these simplified routines could not have learned the much longer and sophisticated routines of the traditional styles, which can be too physically and mentally demanding for the elderly and infirm.
The business of modern schedules and lifestyles make it difficult for people of any age to commit to the type of training regimen that would be expected of students of old. The simplified routines make it possible to fit more into a smaller time period. Instead of requiring a 1 – 3 hour period to do a routine, students can now fit a routine into a 3 – 10 minute break, and do that as many times in a day as they like.
Today there are simplified versions of every traditional style. There are also combined routines that contain elements of the 5 major styles in one routine. There are also international standard routines which are used for competition.
These modern forms have contributed greatly to the popularity of taijiquan. It is one of the fastest growing fitness and health promoting activities, in terms of numbers of students enrolling in classes.
The modern forms have not, however, replaced the traditional routines. The traditional routines are still practised in advanced classes, or in traditional schools where they are taught from the beginning, over a period of 1 – 3 years.