The ‘Internal School’ or ‘Soft Style’ of the martial arts known as Tai Chi Chuan has its origins in Taoism. Because Taoism lays great emphasis on education and morality any one who wishes to be a disciple of Tai Chi Chuan and learn the Internal Strength must first take part in a ceremony in memory of the founder, solemnly promising before a portrait of him that he will obey the Twelve Commandments set out below:-
- You must respect the founder, Chang San Feng, as the art came from him.
- You must respect your master add disciples more senior than yourself. The relationship between master and disciples is that of father and son.
- You must strictly control your own behaviour and treat more senior and more junior disciples as older and younger brothers.
- Your must follow the instructions of your master and practice diligently.
- You must behave with propriety in public and must not demonstrate the art in public for money.
- Your must not show the art to outsiders no matter what your level of achievement.
- You must not criticise other styles of the martial arts. As we do not fully appreciate other styles, it is wrong to criticise them.
- You must not keep company with bad characters.
- You have the responsibility to hand down the art, but must be experienced and fully versed in the art before doing so. Thus the art handed down will be correct.
- You must not teach bad characters.
- You must only teach new disciples if they are sincere and pay their respects to the memory of the founder.
- You must only teach new disciples if they understand and agree to be bound by these Twelve Commandments. Only if this is so may they pay their respects to the founder.
There are three stages in Tai Chi Internal Strength. The first stage, called ‘Inner and Outer in Unity’ is where our breathing becomes one with our actions. The second stage, called ‘Mind and Body in Unity’ is where our minds directs our every action. The third stage, called ‘Heaven and Thought in Unity’ is beyond technique. To quote the Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu, ‘Heaven and Earth were born with me and all things in them merge with me.’ This implies that Chuang Tzu had reached the stage where he could forget his physical self, though its existence continued in the real world. A man who reaches this level in the study of martial arts may justifiably claim himself to be a Grand Master.