The distinctive characteristics of Taijiquan to other martial arts is that it applies Yin -Yang and Taiji philosophy in its martial theory. As for the origin of Taijiquan, there are various opinions; each airs its own views.
According to the Taijiquan routines that people practice today, the origin is from the Chen family village, Wen County, Henan province. The creator was Chen Wangting (about 1600-1680), the 9th generation of the Chen family. He was a general at the end of the Ming Dynasty. He lived in the shadows after the Ming Dynasty fell. He became a farmer and created Taijiquan in his old age. His posthumous work, "Long and Short Words" says, "Now that I'm old, only the book, "Huang Ting", do I take with me. Developing martial arts in my spare time, farming when its busy. "Huang Ting", also called "Huang Ting Jing", was written by Wei Huacun (Jin Dynasty). This book combined Taoism and Medicine together. It has been the classical works for Taoists throughout the ages. So, taking the philosophy of Taoism, Chen Wangting created a special martial art called Taijiquan. He combined at least three sources to create Taijiquan: His family martial art as the base, added other aspects of various styles of martial arts such as "Quan Jing·32 Forms" (Qi Jiguan) and Taizu Long Boxing, to develop the routines of Taijiquan. He applied the Taoist method of breath and Qi-leading, emphasized using the mind to lead the movements, sinking the qi to the Dantian and mind leading the qi techniques.
He also added Chinese traditional philosophy with the theory of Yin-Yang (Taiji) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or the theory of meridians.
There was an original routine called "Chen style 108 forms Long Fist" in Chen style Taijiquan. It was lost from the Chen family village during the Qianlong age, but Quo Yongfu from Chenjiagou, had taken it with him to Hongdong county, Shanxi province. In 1975, master Chen Li-Qing learned this routine from Xu Fangqing and returned to the Chen family with this treasure. So, this is the oldest Taijiquan routine known today. There were five routines in Chen style Taijiquan in the beginning, but not all are remembered today. Now we have "Chen style 108 routine", "Chen style Taijiquan Small Frame, first routine and second routine", "Chen style Taijiquan Big Frame, first routine and second routine", push hands and Taiji weapons such as single and double straight swords, single and double broad swords, spears, Various staffs, big knife, ball hammers, Monk Spade, Tiger Fork, etc.
During its development, other styles of Taijiquan were directly or in- directly derived from the Chen style. There are five major styles today: Chen style, Yang style, Wú style, Sun style and Wu style. There are smaller family styles as well, like the Fu and Li styles. To be suitable for more people to learn Taijiquan, simplified 24 form Taijiquan was created. By way of competition, competition forms were developed.
The concept of "Taiji" is inbedded within Chinese traditional philosophy. It comes from The Book of Changes (Zhou dynasty) "The changes in Taiji gives birth to the two appearances". The two appearances mean Yin and Yang. Zheng Xuan (Han Dynasty) says: " Taiji is the chaos. "This means Taiji was the matter before the ordered universe, but it is the origin of everything. It was pure energy without substance, time and space superimposed into a cosmogonic view (Big Bang) to have existed before the ordered universe. Because of the Big Bang, this pure energy gave birth to space and the celestial bodies. The movement of the celestial bodies in space gives time its order. So all matter in the universe have laws of change and development. The concept of Taiji in Chinese traditional philosophy is that of pure energy before the Big Bang. The ideology of Laozi and Zhuangzi both made a point of "Nothingness". Wang Bi (Jin Dynasty) explained "Taiji" as "nothing", he said: "Existence comes from nothingness, so Taiji gives birth to the two appearances. Taiji is the name of nonexistence" (Explanation from the Book of Changes) Everything in the universe (including humans) belongs to this existence. All existing things have both aspects of Yin and Yang. The interaction of Yin and Yang drives the development and change of all matter, but the energy has its origin from "nothing". This is "Taiji".