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Origin and development of Chen's Style Taijiquan
Chen Bo was the
primogenitor of Chen's family, whose ancestral home had been in Zezhou
County (it is named Jincheng now), Shanxi province. Then his forebear
moved to Hongton County in the same province. In Hongwu 7th in Ming
Dynasty (1374), the family was moved to Huaiqing (Xinyang now) Prefecture,
Henan Province. Since the first village where Chen Bo lived was of low
hypsograpy, and often suffered from waterlog, Chen Bo moved to Changyang
Village, where was in Wenxian County and 5 kilometers from the county
seat. There is a deep gully running from south to north in the village.
With the growth of the population of Chen's family, Changyang Village
was changed to Chenjiagou (the gully of Chen's family).
After Chen Bo's settled down at Wenxian County, he established a school
of Wushu in the village to safeguard the villagers and taught his sons,
nephews and grandsons to practice Wushu. As there was no record about
Chen's family until 1711, the history of Chen's family was passed from
mouth to mouth. In 1711, Chen Geng, the 10th generation put up a stele
for Chen Bo, in which simply recorded the story of Chen Bo.
Chen Wangting (1600-1680), alias Zhouting, experienced the end of Ming
Dynasty and the beginning of Qing Dynasty. He was excellent in civil
and military, and good at boxing and weapons, with deep accomplishments.
Since turbulence of the politic situation, he could not get a chance
to achieve his ambition. When advanced in ages, he lived a hermit life,
and developed a set of Taijiquan which combined softness with hardness,
made Yin and Yang be coincident and which was the combination of the
boxing passed from the ancestors, and the essences of various schools
of Wushu, the theory of Taiji, Yin and Yang, and Traditional Chinese
Medicine, Channels, Qigong including Daoyin and Tuna (regimen of regulating
the breath by one's will). The boxing and weapon techniques passed by
Chen Wangting are Taijiquan from the first to the fifth routines, a
set of Cannon Boxing, 108 forms of Long Boxing, push hand, and techniques
of weapons including broad sword, spear, sword, staff, maces, and sticky-spear
etc. Among them, push hand and sticky-spear are of unique style that
had not been seen before.
With the passage of time, most of Chen Wangting's works had lost. The
only existence is The General Boxing Classic and poetry Chang Duan Ju.
In the first part of the poem, it says: "Recalling the past years,
I sign with emotion, when I was young, I had swept the enemies with
firm loricae and sharp weapons, facing the dangers of killing many times!
Although I had got favor from the upper leaders, I am still in poverty
and illnesses. Now what companies me is only a copy of Huangtingjing
(a classic of Toism). In the busy season, I go to the field to work;
if not, I compose boxing. In the spare time, I teach the youths. However,
whether they would be dragons or tigers (persons with ability) depends
From Chen Wangting, the ethos of practicing Taijiquan in Chenjiagou
was getting more popular. Every one practiced it whatever who were old
or young, men or women. There was a saying "Anyone who has drunk
the water of Chenjiagou, can raise his leg." "Anyone whether
he has learnt Wushu, can play Buddha's Warrioor Attendant Pounds Mortar.",
which reflected how the villagers liked to play Taijiquan in certain
extent. The ethos has been passing generation to generation, and has
never failed. For that reason, many famous masters came from Chenjiagou
in the history.
Chen Changxing (1771-1853), alias Yunting, was the fourteenth generation
of Chen's family, who wrote the books The Ten Dissertations on Taijiquan,
The essential of Taijiquan in practice, and On combat of Taijiquan.
Based on the old routine passed by the ancestors, he developed the first
routine of Taijiquan and the second routine of Taijiquan (Paochui Boxing),
which is unchanged until now; they are creative outcomes that Chen Changxing
extracted the essentials from the old ones. This set of Taijiquan is
called Old Frame of Taijiquan (Big Frame). The career of master Chen
Changxing was a master of safeguarding the goods for merchants, running
around in Shandong Province for more than ten years, enjoying high reputation
in Wushu circle then. At that time, if an opera was played in the countryside,
there was no theater or seats, just a stage in the open air. Only the
people who were young and strong enough could stand near the stage,
otherwise the people who wanted to go near the stage would jostled him
backward. Once he watched an opera near the stage, being surrounded
by hundreds of crowded people. He kept feet not leaving his place any
more, whatever he was pushed, crowded, crushed. The people who were
approaching him felt that they could not touch him, as water touched
the stone, it withdrew naturally. Thus, he was called "the king
stable as a stone tablet". During he worked in Shandong Province
for more than ten years, most of the bandits and gangs disappeared,
as was recorded in a tone tablet that the local people put up for remembering
him. Both of his two sons, Yannian and Yanxi were famous masters of
Taijiquan. The most famous of his disciple was Yang Luchan.
Chen Youben, the fourteenth generation, made some revisions based on
the original routines, and abnegated some difficult and applying force
movements. The frame was as wide as the old one, then it was called
new frame (small frame).
Chen Xin, (1849-1929) the sixteenth generation, alias Pinsan, realized
that in the history, the Chen's Style of Taijiquan was mainly passed
by mouth to mouth, and that there were few written works on Taijiquan.
He made a determined effort to explain and develop the theory of Taijiquan
passed from his ancestors. Spending 12 years, he completed his four
volumes of The Illustrated Chen's Style Taijiquan to introduce the experiences
of practicing Taijiquan accumulated from generation to generation. In
this book, he explained the theory of boxing by I Ching, the twining
silk power and internal power by the theory of Channels. It is the most
important works in the treasury of the theory of Chen's Style Taijiiquan.
His other works are The History of Chen's Family, and The Boxing Compose
of Three, Three, Six.
Chen Fake (1887-1957), alias Fusheng, was the representative figure
of the current Chen's Style Taijiquan, having made great contribution
in spreading Taijiquan. He had been teaching Taijiquan in Beijing from
1929 to 1957. His fighting techniques were excellent, combining hardness
and softness, and various techniques simultaneously, including Cai (grap),
Lie (yank), Zhou (elbow), Kao (lean against), Na (hold), Die (drop down),
Zhi (throw), Da (beat). When fighting hand to hand with an opponent,
he did not care of the individual movements, but controlled the opponent,
often beat the opponent down by his superb skill. He was very popular
by the people in different circles because of his honesty and noble
moral of Wushu. He had many disciples, such as Shen Jiazhen, Gu Liuxin,
Hong Junshen, Tian Xiuchen, Lei Muni, Feng Zhiqiang, Li Jingwu, Xiao
Qinglin etc. His sons Chen Zhaoxu and Chen Zhaokui, and daughter Chen
Yuxia have very good boxing skills. Chen Zhaokui has taught Taijiquan
in Beijing, Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Jiaozuo (83 forms of new frame mainly),
and has many disciples, made a great contribution in popularization
Chen Zhaopi (1893-1972), alias Jipu, was invited by the brothers Yue
Youshen and Yue Dutong, who were the boss of the famous drug store Tong
Ren Tang to teach Taijiquan in Beiping (the name for Beijing then) in
1928. Yue's brothers entrusted Du Shenxing, who lived in Xinyang, Henan
Province to invite a master of Taijiquan, being out of admiration for
Taijiquan in Chenjiagou. The clansmen in the village recommended him.
After he arrived in Beiping, Li Jingzhuang, one of his countrymen, wrote
an article in Beiping Evening Paper (October, 1928) to air Taijiquan.
It said: "The aim that we advocate Wushu is for strengthening and
protecting our nation, preventing the aggressions from foreigners, reoccupying
the lost lands. " Chen Zhaopi was of high accomplishments in the
theory of Taijiquan. He wrote the books The Collection of Chen's Style
Taijiquan, ABC of Taijiquan, Illustrated Chen's Style Taijiquan, and
13 Chapters of the Theory of Chen's Style Taijiquan, which came from
his experiences for several decades. The representatives of his disciples
are Chen Xiaowang, Chen Zhenlei, Wang Xian, Zhu Tiancai, etc. He made
a huge contribution to spread Chen's Style Taijiquan, being admired
by all the circles domestically and internationally, because of his
noble moral and the spirit of being tiredness in teaching. He was a
great master carrying forward the cause of Chen's Style Taijiquan and
forging ahead into the future.
Now the routines boxing being practiced in Chenjiagou include: the first
routine of Old Style, the second routine of old style (Cannon Boxing),
the first routine of new style, the second routine of new style (Cannon
Boxing), the first and second routines of small frame, and five kinds
of push hand. The routines of weapons include: Taiji Single Broad Sword,
Double Broad Sword, Single Sword, Double Swords, Double Maces, Pear
Flower Spear plus White Ape Staff, Long-hilt Broadsword Scimitar, Three
Pole, Eight Pole, Thirteen Pole, etc. These routines basically maintain
the traditional style, from the angle of style and application of beating