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Big frame tradition
Chen family traditions were kept secret from the public until around 1928 when the big frame routines were taught openly for the first time. This was started in Beijing by Chen Fake's nephew and then by the legendary Chen Fake himself.
Lao jia – old frame 老架
The Chen lao jia consists of two forms yi lu (1st routine) and er lu (2nd routine) It was taught privately in Chen Village from the time of Chen ChangXing - the 14th generation creator of these routines. These were the very first Chen tai chi routines to be publicly revealed. This happened in Beijing from 1928 onwards - being taught by Chen Fake and his nephew.
Yi lu (the first empty hand form) at the beginner level is mostly done slowly with large motions interrupted by occasional expressions of fast power (Fajing) that comprise less than 20% of the movements, with the overall purpose of teaching the body to move correctly. At the intermediate level it is practiced in very low stances (low frame) with an exploration of clear directional separation in power changes and in speed tempo. The movements become smaller and the changes in directional force become more subtle. At the advanced level the leg strength built at the previous level allows full relaxation and the potential for Fajing in every movement.
The second empty hand form, "er lu" or "cannon fist" is done faster and is used to add more advanced martial techniques such as advanced sweeping and more advanced fajing methods. Both forms also teach various martial techniques.
Xin jia – new frame 新架
An older Chen Fake plays the "xin jia" form he introduced to the world
This style was first seen practiced by Chen Fake in his later years (1950s) and many regard him as the author of the style. Credit for actual public teaching/spread of these two new routines probably goes to his senior students (especially his son, Chen Zhaokui).
When Chen Zhaokui returned to Chen Village (to assist and then succeed Chen ZhaoPei) to train today's generation of Masters (e.g. the "Four Buddhas") he taught Chen Fake's, unknown adaptation of old frame. Zhu Tian Cai recalls, as a young man at the time, they all started calling it "xin jia" (new frame) because it was adapted from classic old frame.
The main difference from old frame (lao jia) is that the movements are smaller and more obvious torso twisting silk reeling and twining of the arms/wrists is employed. This form tends to emphasise manipulation, seizing and grappling (qinna) rather than striking techniques.
Zhu Tian Cai has commented that the xinjia (new frame) emphasises the silk reeling movements to help beginners more easily learn the internal principles in form and to make application more obvious in relation to the Old big frame forms.
In Chen Village xin jia is traditionally learned only after lao jia. Like lao jia, xin jia consists of two routines, yi lu and er lu (cannon fist). The new frame cannon fist is generally performed faster than the other empty hand forms, at the standardized speed its 72 movements finish in under 4 minutes.!
Small Frame tradition (xiao jia) 小架
This style was until recently not publicly known outside of Chen Village. DVD material has been made available in more recent times though authentic, public teaching is still hard to find. The reasons for this may be more to do with the nature of small frame tradition itself rather than any particular motivation of secrecy (see below).
Although it recently had the term "small frame" attached to it "xiao jia" was previously known as "xin jia" (new frame). Apparently the name change occurred to differentiate it from the new routines that Chen Fake created (from big frame tradition's "old frame" routines) in the 1950s which then became called "Xin Jia" (by the young men of Chen Village).
Even today some people confuse Chen Fake's altered routines (from big frame tradition's "old frame" routines) with small frame tradition and believe he revealed the secret teaching of small frame tradition as well.
Zhu Tian Cai comments that small frame tradition routines also used to be practiced by "retired" Chen villagers. It seems this was because the more demanding leaping, stomping, low frame, and intensive fa jing of the advanced big frame tradition routines have been eliminated and the retained movements emphasize use of the more subtle internal skills, which is a more appropriate regimen for the bodies of elder practitioners. He also observed that young children used to imitate Small Frame routines by watching older villagers practicing and this was encouraged for health reasons.
Xiao Jia is known mainly for its emphasis on internal movements, this being the main reason that people refer to it as "small frame"; all "silk-reeling" action is within the body, the limbs are the last place the motion occurs.
Closely related Chen forms
Zhaobao Taijiquan is gaining increasing recognition as minor Chen style tradition in its own right within the Western tai chi community. While Zhaobao and Chen style are obviously related (demonstrations are often mistaken for Chen style) it is independent of present Chen family practice and lineage. It was said to have been created by a Small Frame practitioner Chen Qingping.
Chen Shi Xinyi Hun Yuan Taijiquan
Xinyi Hun Yuan tai chi chuan (Chinese: 陳式心意混元太極 陈式心意混元太极) is much like traditional Chen style Xin Jia with an influence from Shanxi Hsing Yi. It was created by one of Chen Fake's senior students Feng Zhiqiang 馮志強. Specifically, the style synthesizes a large amount of Xin Yi (both Qigong and, to a lesser degree, martial movements). Outwardly it appears similar to traditional Old Frame Chen forms.
"Hun Yuan" refers to the strong emphasis on circular, "orbital" or spiraling internal principles which are at the heart of this evolved Chen tradition. While such principles already exist in mainstream Chen style the Hun Yuan tradition develops the theme further. Its teaching system pays attention to spiraling techniques in both body and limbs and how they may be harmoniously coordinated together.
Modern Chen forms
Similar to other family styles of tai chi, Chen style has had its frame adapted by competitors to fit within the framework of wushu competition. A prominent example is the 56 Chen Competition form (developed by the Chinese National Wushu Association from lao jia routines) and to a lesser extent the 48/42 Combined Competition form (1976/1989 by the Chinese Sports Committee developed from Chen and three other traditional styles).
In the last ten years or so even respected grandmasters of traditional styles have begun to accommodate this contemporary trend towards shortened forms that take less time to learn and perform. Beginners in large cities don't always have the time, space or the concentration needed to immediately start learning old frame (75 movements). This proves all the more true at workshops given by visiting grandmasters. Consequently shortened versions of the traditional forms have been developed even by the "Four Buddhas." Beginners can choose from postures of 38 (synthesized from both lao and xin jia by Chen Xiao Wang), 19 (1995 Chen Xiao Wang), 18 (Chen Zheng Lei) and 13 (1997 Zhu Tian Cai). There is even a 4 step routine (repeated 4 times in a circular progression - returning to start) useful for confined spaces (Zhu Tian Cai).
A comprehensive list of forms, old and new, can be found here.
Chen Tai Chi has several unique weapon forms.
the 49 posture Straight Sword (Jian) form
the 13 posture Broadsword (Dao) form http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dao_(sword)
Spear (Qiang) solo and partner forms http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qiang_(spear)
3, 8, and 13 posture Gun (staff) forms http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_(staff)
30 posture Halberd (Da Dao/Kwan Dao) form http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwan_Dao
several double weapons forms utilizing the above-mentioned items
Before teaching the forms, the instructor may have the students do stance training such as zhan zhuang and various qigong routines such as silk reeling exercises. These stance training and qigong exercises are done to condition and strengthen the body to have the correct frame and alignment so as to be able to develop silk reeling energy (Chan Si Jing) before moving to the more complicated movements that are in the forms.
Other methods of training for Chen style using training aids including pole/spear shaking exercises, which teach a practitioner how to extend their silk reeling and fa jing skill into a weapon.
In addition to the solo exercises listed above, there are partner exercises known as pushing hands, designed to help students maintain the correct body structure when faced with resistance. There are five traditional phases of push hands in Chen Village that students may learn before they can move on to a more free-style push hands structure which begins to resemble sparring.
In contrast to some tai chi styles and teachers, the vast majority of Chen stylists believe that tai chi is first and foremost a martial art; that a study of the self-defense aspect of tai chi is the best test of a student's skill and knowledge of the tai chi principles that provide health benefit. In compliance with this principle, all Chen forms retain some degree of overt fa jing expression.
In martial application, Chen style tai chi uses a wide variety of techniques applied with all the extremities that revolve around the use of the eight gates of tai chi chuan to manifest either kai (expansive power) or he (contracting power) through the physical postures of Chen forms. The particulars of exterior technique may vary between teachers and forms. In common with all neijia, Chen style aims to develop internal power for the execution of martial techniques, but focuses especially on cultivating fa jing skill. Chen family member Chen Zhenglei has commented that between the new and old frame traditions there are 105 basic fajin methods and 72 basic Qinna methods present in the forms.
Chen style in popular culture Lists of miscellaneous information should be avoided. Please relocate any relevant information into appropriate sections or articles. (January 2008)
Ren Guang Yi (a disciple of Chen Xiaowang) created a shortened version of Chen style cannon fist for Hugh Jackman to perform in the Darren Aronofsky film, The Fountain.
In the video game, Shenmue II, the main character Ryo Hazuki meets a Chen Style Master, Jianmin Tao, in a park in Hong Kong and spars with him throughout the game.
^ a b c Guang Yi, Ren; Stephen Berkwick, Jose Figueroa (2003). Taijiquan: Chen 38 form and applications. 364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon VT: Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-3526-8 (pbk).
^ a b c Wile, Douglas (1995). Lost T'ai-chi Classics from the Late Ch'ing Dynasty (Chinese Philosophy and Culture). State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0791426548.
^ Wile, Douglas (1983). Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions. Sweet Ch'i Press. ISBN 978-0912059013.
Gaffney, David (2002). Chen Style Taijiquan: The source of Taiji Boxing. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books. ISBN 1-55643-377-8.
Chen, Zhenglei (2003). Chen Style Taijiquan, Sword and Broadsword. Zhengzhou, China: Tai Chi Centre. ISBN 7534823218.
"A study of Taijiquan" - Explores the extreme difficulty Westerners face in attempting to explore the "history" of Tai Chi.
(Website maintained by Bing YeYoung, a disciple of Chen Zhaokui).
An interview with Ma Hong Student of Chen Zhaokui, on Chen style.
International Society of Chen Taijiquan - ISCT Homepage headed by Chen Peishan and Chen Peiju (20th generation Chen family descendants) http://www.chen-taijiquan.com/
Taichichen.org - Chen Tai Chi Resources (e.g. videos/explanations of all Chen open fist forms) http://www.taichichen.org/
The World of Taijiquan - Website maintained by Jasmine Bu and Chong Sien Long (both disciples of 19th generation Grandmaster Zhu Tiancai). http://www.chen-taiji.com/
Laojia (Old Form) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saPQ6wf4eCw
Laojia YiLu by Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei
Laojia ErLu (Cannon Fist) by Chen Bing
Xinjia (New Form)
Xinjia YiLu by 10 year old student of Wang Xi'an
Erlu (Cannon Fist) by Chen Zhiqiang
Chen Style Xin Yi Hun Yuan
48 Form by Feng Zhiqiang, founder of the system.
Xiaojia (Small Form) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKdGpeWhocM
Xiaojia by Zhu Tiancai
Push Hands and Applications
Wang Xi'an demonstrating push hands practice methods
Tai Chi lecture by Chen Xiaowang
Chen Village school push hands lecture by Chen Bing
Straight Sword Routine by Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei
Broad Sword Routine by Chen Zhenglei
Chen Style Tai Chi Sword US Team Trial
Source from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Chen Style Taiji Quan 38 form