Note: This information is from the Stanford University Tai Chi and Wushu Club
A Brief History
More than 300 different known martial arts styles are practiced in China. There are two Chinese Martial Art systems, the internal and the external systems. The internal system includes Tai Chi,Sheng-I and Pa-Qua styles. The emphasize stability and have limited jumps and kicks. The external system includes Shao Lin, Long Fist, Southern Fist, and other styles. They emphasize linear movements, breathing combined with sound, strength, speed and hard power impact contact, jumps, and kicks.
There are many different styles or families of Tai Chi Chuan. The five which are practiced most commonly today are the Yang, Chen, Wu , Sun, and Woo styles. All Tai Chi styles, however, are derived from the original Chen family style.
Some people believe that Tai Chi was developed by a Taoist Priest from a temple in China's Wu Dong Mountains. It is said that he once observed a white crane preying on a snake, and mimicked their movements to create the unique Tai Chi martial art style.
Initially, Tai Chi was practiced as a fighting form, emphasizing strength, balance, flexibility, and speed. Through time it has evolved into a soft, slow, and gentle form of exercise which can be practiced by people of all ages.
List of Tai-Chi references:
Tai-Chi Ch'uan its effects & practical applications by Y. K. Chen published by Newcastle Publishing Co., Inc. North Hollywood, CA
T'ai Chi Ch'uan Ta Wen questions and answers on T'ai Chi Ch'uan by Chen Wei-Ming, translated by Ben Lo and Robert W. Smith North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA
T'ai-Chi Touchstones: Yang family secret transmissions Compiled and translated by Douglas Wile Sweet Ch'i Press, 662 Union St, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Chen Style Taijiquan, Yang Style Taijiquan and Wu Style Taijiquan (3 different titles) Compiled by Zhaohua Publishing House Hai Feng Publishing Co., Hong Kong & Zhaohua Publishing House, Beijing, China
Chen Style Taijiquan Second Routine: Cannon Fist by Guo Lou Hing (in Chinese) Published by Hoi Feng Publishing Co. Hong Kong 1st. Edition 1982 , Revised 1st. Edition 1985.
This book has pictures of Chen Style masters, history of Taijiquan, details of features of Chen Style practice methods and requirements, special features of Cannon Fist, detailed descriptions and pictures of the complete Cannon Fist routine and bibliography appendices.
Chen Style Taijiquan by Chum Gar Jing and Guo Lou Hing (in Chinese) Published by Sun Mun Book Store, Hong Kong
This book has detailed hand-drawn pictures of the Chen Style first routine, and the Chen Style second routine Cannon Fist. Also includes extensive descriptions of how to practice the Chen Style Taijiquan. This book was written in 1963, which was during the cultural revolution in China; therefore, the history of Taijiquan was dismissed.
Taijiquan Technique by Guo Lou Hing (in Chinese) Published by China Books Press, Hong Kong 1st Edition 1985
This book has detailed hand-drawn pictures and photos of the Yang Style routine, Push Hand techniques and applications of each Taiji movements. It contains many original writings of taiji poems, verses and old sayings, and also photos of other Taiji Styles Masters.
The Original Chen Style Taijiquan by Chen Shao Wang (in Chinese) Published by People's Sports Publishing, China 1st Edition 1985, 3rd Edition 1990
The author is the direct descendent of the Chen Family Tai Chi. In this book he included a brief history of the originators of other Tai Chi styles. There are photos of the author performing 3 different Chen Style Tai Chi routines. Also includes detailed application photos and theory of the Chen Style Tai Chi.