T’ai chi ch’uan (“grand ultimate”) is said to have been started by Chang San-feng. According to one myth, the 12-century Taoist monk was disturbed when he heard a crane and a snake fighting. When the crane stabbed with its beak, the snake twisted away; when the snake tried to strike, the crane shielded itself with its wings. This gave Chang the idea for a martial art based on yielding in the face of aggression. Another myth holds that the tai chi movements were revealed to him in a dream; he had been searching for the elixir of life, but realized that the body’s “chi” (life force) flows like a liquid, and that tai chi could be used as a life-giving force. Based on the principles of Taoism, tai chi seeks to develop both the mind and body by treating the two as one cohesive unit. As opposed to the “hard” martial art of Shaolin, which relies on physical skill, tai chi is a “soft” form of internally-based self-defense. The ability to bend, says Tao Te Ching, means we can avoid breaking and then straighten once again.