The Taichi series made its debut in 1976 when Ju Ming had his first solo exhibition in the Taiwan National Museum of History. Then called the Kungfu series, it was an enormous success, with Ju's endeavor to open up a wider field of art besides those themes as Nativism, Realism and morality. Ju Ming had made many successful advances in sculptural art, but the Taichi series executed post-1976 saw a clear understanding of the rhythm and life imbued within this craft, suggesting explored possible methods to improve what Ju believed to be overly meticulous and calculated steps within the practice. At the same time, Ju's travels around Europe and his encounters with the huge stone constructs of ancient Rome inspired him to create works with clean contours and feeling of monumentality. As a result, his creations since 1980s have been more flexible and free, and from the 1980s onwards, his art branched off from the narration of excessive details, and exudes more litheness and liberty.
While the wood-carved Taichi series earned for Ju Ming a great reputation, the artist started exploring other materials in sculpture, and singled out bronze and stone for making his Taichi figures to impute the grandiose, immense vigour and the mood of archaism. Techniques changed along with the media, and the methods of approach changed with the techniques. Unlike wood, stone can appear to be an unanimated weighty block. Without a dialogue with the wood prototype, it is very easy to be controlled by predetermined patterns before even beginning to shape the material, thus creating works that have little nuance or personality. Therefore, Ju developed a method in which "speed" replaces "fixed thinking pattern" and "self-denial" replaces "program". He stated "Once I start to carve, the changes begin and follow up with the first and second cuts, and just before my mind is right to intervene, the third cut comes, blocking the gap in it, and yet another cut strikesKThus, cutting all the way, and changing all the way, with my skills going along with it. Even if my mind follows through, my cuts are always going ahead. And at this moment, it is not a business of the mind anymore, as the mind will give up eventually, and any ideas cannot intervene. Only with a sense of motivation driven by wisdom and instinct accumulated from previous practices do I continuously form the work."
In 1990 Ju created the Advancing Step Barricade Moving Punch (Lot 1019). A gigantic outdoor bronze exceeding two meters of height, this sculpture thoroughly demonstrates the stately, imposing verve of the Taichi series. By paring the work in a succinct and resolute manner, the artist contrives a sculpture that speaks of a lofty mountain standing erect against the callous whims of nature over hundreds of thousands of years. The statue is on its feet, weight held forward, with its left knee bent and its right leg straightened behind. Standing firm, its hands are raised and extended into a posture that allows both attack and self-defense; the strength of the opponent is counteracted, as its move showcases the dynamic of stillness and the rigidity of pulpiness. Ju Ming, in interpreting the essence of Taichi, said "the one prominent feature of Taichi is that it neither resist nor forfeit. My non-resistance carries it away most naturally, and the rival has no gateway. One becomes a master with this prowess."
The huge bronze sculpture of Ju Ming seems not only to be a magnification of his woodwork pieces, but represents the culmination of Ju's study of modern Western sculptural practices, the simplification and abstraction of mass and form, combined with his deep exploration of taichi and its theories of energy, flow, movement, and strength. Such creations, apart from being challenging to chisel and carve, requires the artist to adopt a fresh perspective with which to impart to the massive work with symbolic strength and a sense of majesty. The massiveness of the sculpture provides viewers with ample room for appreciation. Viewers may move around the four sides or crouch down to examine the sculpture, which is like an undulating mountain chain that impels the viewers to clamber up with their eyes to the summit, the sculpture's head. Lying between reality and abstraction, the gigantic Advancing Step Barricade Moving Punch opens up a sublime metaphysical realm that transcends the physical universe. Under the artist's refinement, the swift and tranquil taichi movement absorbs the audience into a fascinating spiritual world. The huge outdoor sculptures of Ju Ming are ardently admired by both Asian and Western collector, and are dislpayed in a number of collections such as in Atlanta, Georgia, the University of Kansas in the United States, the Olympic Sculpture Park in South Korea, Place Vendôme in Paris, and the Chinese University, the Bank of China, and Exchange Square in Hong Kong. Exhibited in different public spaces under diverse cultures, the Taichi sculptures invite every passerby to enjoy Ju's profound reflection on sculpture, form and the dynamic flow of energy that underlies Taichi.
Wood is the earliest medium used by Ju Ming when he created Taichi series in 1970s. In the very beginning, Ju Ming chose wood as the media for his exploration in the Taichi series, which can be described as a great artistic consideration that highly integrates form with theme. Wood is a supple material because it displays its scars from the past through textures, knots and scratches, standing as a testament against its environment, water and soil. The original textures, shapes, dynamic shapes and cuts on the wood forms a dialogue and gives direction to the artist and the principles of Taichi. Its spirit is interlaced with dynamic and static movements, and its void coexists with presence. Taichi can be seen as the combination of human and nature, in which human beings contact and imitate the natural phenomena of the universe with their bodies. The Taichi spirit assists people to return to their natural state. This is complemented by Ju's use of material. Wood stands as the ideal material for the artist to interact with and to extract the essence of Taichi, a return to nature. The hidden life behind wood bursts free through Ju's sculptures, truly merging the human form with nature.
The Taichi series in its early days is a set of individual figurines in which the momentum and tenor of the Taichi art are arrayed through gestures and dynamism of a single body. The core meaning of Taichi revolves around the oppositional but integral forces of yin and yang . After the 1980s Ju Ming carried on with the sparring models, thereby writing a new chapter of his freshened exposition of the Taichi series. Taichi Series (Lot 1020) is a further step to abstract the sparring and pushing hands of the two contenders. The independent shapes, the form of their battle, and their corresponding spatial relationship are transfigured through the hands of the artist. The arched, united structure animates the progression of force. Rising beyond the limit of bodily shapes, it enhances with dynamism, the rhythmic flow of the Taichi movement, and reaches the oblivious, enduring verve of Taichi. The initial independent forms and the corresponding relationship between the moves and spaces have been abstractedly transformed again in the hands of the artist. A series of linking forms display a continuity of forces. Ju is said to break from the constraints of the moves and steps, and his works have strongly embodied qualities of modern abstraction. As he said "at the moment when I join my hands the Qi (air) flows, and muscle pulls. They connect and vein through the whole body that are finally unified as one." Ju Ming has no intention to represent the moves and steps of the boxing art. Instead, he prefers "no ways as having ways" when describing the forms of an object, directly referring to the basic body movement. Drawing from the combination of Chinese culture and Taichi boxing arts, Ju's Taichi Series have incorporated strong and soft lines, balanced and imbalanced forms, and at a particular moment expressed the force like "retaining strength on the arrow and shooting powerfully."