Though originally conceived as a martial art, it is also typically practiced for a variety of other personal reasons: competitive wrestling in the format of pushing hands (tui shou), demonstration competitions, and achieving greater longevity.As a result, a multitude of training forms exist, both traditional and modern, which correspond to those aims with differing emphasis.From a modern historical perspective, when tracing tàijíquán's formative influences to Taoist and Buddhist monasteries, there seems little more to go on than legendary tales.Nevertheless, some traditional schools claim that tàijíquán has a practical connection to and dependence upon the theories of Song dynasty Neo-Confucianism (a conscious synthesis of Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian traditions, especially the teachings of Mencius).Some training forms of tàijíquán are especially known for being practiced with relatively slow movements. Most modern styles of tai chi trace their development to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu (Hao), Wu, and Sun.All of the former, in turn, trace their historical origins to Chen Village.of yin and yang into a single ultimate, represented by the taijitu symbol .Tàijíquán theory and practice evolved in agreement with many Chinese philosophical principles, including those of Taoism and Confucianism.
Martial arts historian Xu Zhen believed that the Taiji of Chen Village had been influenced by the Taizu changquan style practiced at the nearby Shaolin Monastery, while Tang Hao thought it was derived from a treatise by the Ming dynasty general Qi Jiguang, Jixiao Xinshu ("New Treatise on Military Efficiency"), which discussed several martial arts styles including Taizu changquan.
The chi in the name of the martial art may also be mistaken for ch‘i, (qi 氣) the "life force," especially as ch‘i is involved in the practice of t‘ai-chi ch‘üan.
Most Chinese, including many professional practitioners, masters, and martial arts bodies (such as the IWUF), use the Pinyin version.
Other important styles are Zhaobao tàijíquán, a close cousin of Chen style, which has been newly recognized by Western practitioners as a distinct style, the Fu style, created by Fu Chen Sung, which evolved from Chen, Sun and Yang styles, and also incorporates movements from Baguazhang (Pa Kua Chang)The Chen family chronicles record Chen Wangting, of the family's 9th generation, as the inventor of what is known today as tàijíquán.
Yang Luchan became the first person outside the family to learn tàijíquán.