Taijiquan as a Source of Design and Creation-Process (Taijiquan)

Paul Baltes and Ulman Lindenburg, developmental psychologists from the Max-Planck-Institute in Berlin describe the connection between activities of the body and the brain as follows: There are indications that physical movement is able to directly increase the cerebral plasticity and the brain cells’ function. According to the results of this research we can assume that the individual experience of motion is closely related to the capacity of spatial thinking and imagination. In other words, there is a relation between the keen sense of motion and self-awareness, which means that we need to develop our repertoire of motion if we want to improve our capacity of imagination and creativity. Even though this is a very old idea, Western systems of education, in contrast to Asian systems, do not respect it at all. Especially in today’s information society there is an increasing need for education in the fields of imagination, abstraction and spatial thinking. Processes of work have changed from heavy industrial production to immaterial electronic proceedings, and it is therefore of great importance to train the awareness of our body and motion in order to develop the awareness of the mind in its double meaning: intellect and spirit.

Since a well-trained perception and imagination is the fundamental condition for all of our actions, no matter how small and unimportant they may seem to be, we have compiled a whole string of design methods and exercises for young students. Asian martial art systems, originated in Daoism, have been tried and tested over thousands of years and therefore seem to be the right instrument to train self-perception. Our focus in this context is not primarily an ideological or spiritual transfer, but rather the organic design processes itself derived from nature. Our basic hypothesis is best described in the following quote: "Taiji fighters don’t consider their opponents as their enemies, but as their completion. (...) One fighter’s movements arise from the other fighter’s movements. The continuous (steady) change of opposites such as quickness and slowness, or open and shut, are mutually conditional. Square and circle cause each other, hardness and softness support each other...” - These are the rules we apply for the composition of pictures, for drawing, designing, imaging and recording. Imagination is the expression of awareness, whose cultural extension intensifies the imaginative forces. As Qi in the Taijiquan system is guided by the imagination, the medial design and the creative process is guided by a consciously applied imagination. In other words: There is a parallel between the development of motion and the creation of images, and not only a parallel but also a simultaneousness of motion, awareness and creation.


1.7.2004 - 1.1.2017


  • Prof. Thomas Born


  • South China Normal University
  • Lijun Wenwu School, Wuhzi, China