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Living Heritage: Taijiquan | Updated: 2023-02-28 09:48
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The fluid combination of slow, graceful movements and lightning-quick strikes easily sets taijiquan apart from other martial arts.

The earliest traceable origin of taijiquan dates back to mid-seventeenth century in Central China's Henan province, home to its first great popularizer, a Ming dynasty general Chen Wangting (1597-1664).

In modern times, taijiquan has become popular among Chinese of all ages, genders and ethnicities. Its mental and physical health benefits have also garnered it enthusiasts across the world.

Taijiquan, influenced by Daoist and Confucian thought, as well as traditional Chinese medicine, builds upon theories of bodily energies, the yin and yang cycle and the unity of heaven, earth and man. Unlike combat-oriented martial arts, it focuses on internal development, and is characterized by set exercises, breath regulation and the cultivation of a righteous, neutral mind.

The taijitu, or the black and white, teardrop-shaped diagram of yin and yang, was derived from observing shadows cast on a sundial at midday throughout the year. From these astronomical observations sprung many important aspects of the traditional Chinese calendar, such as holidays, seasonal divisions, the zodiac and the 24 solar terms.

In 2020, taijiquan was added to UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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