There are many legends and stories as to how Tai Chi first originated. The proclaimed founder of Tai Chi Chuan, Chang San-Feng (1279-1386), was regarded as a great Master of Shaolin Chuan.
One of the stories which grew around him describes the origin of Tai Chi Chuan.
The legend relates a dream of Chang San-Feng where he witnesses a fight between a snake and a crane said to be engaged in mortal battle. Each time the crane swooped down to take the snake, it was deflected by the smooth, yielding movements of the snake. It’s ability to retract, recoil and return the attack became a symbol for the motion and intent of Tai Chi Chuan and the picture of the snake and the crane became popularized. From this dream it is said that Chang San-Feng realized the wisdom of flexibility, softness and yielding when deflecting an attack.