Chen style Tai Chi Chuan and Chen Wangting
Apart from stories and legends, serious historians tell us that the real, well-documented origins of tai chi chuan are to be found in Chenjiagou Village, Honan Province, Central China, very close to the Shaolin Temple, amongst the members of the Chen family, in their tradition and, of course, their manuals.
In the seventeenth century, Chen Wangting of the Chen clan, a general and garrison commander, developed a highly effective combat form by assimilating aspects of various Shaolin Temple hard fighting styles and combining them with the philosophy of I Ching – the laws and theory of yin and yang and the five elements, their interaction, interdependency and transmutation – and the chi kung theory of the use of special breathing techniques and the circulation and manipulation of vital energy (chi).
So, every movement in these newly created forms followed and reflected a clear distinction between yin and yang, emptiness and solidity, openness and compactness, expansion and contraction, dynamics and stillness, raising and lowering, left and right, in and out…
Most of the techniques were performed in a slow, continuous and flowing manner with occasional energy ‘outbursts’ through vigorous and fast kicks, punches, jumps and stomps, still retained only in the Chen style of tai chi chuan.
In the course of time, due to the different ideas, understanding and motives of the tai chi chuan masters, the original forms and individual techniques underwent a range of transformations and variations, in aspects such as speed, posture and rhythm. Even the number of movements has been increased or reduced (13, 72, 108, 74, 38 and so on). The original forms have evolved into today’s 5 major styles:
All of these styles, however, are based on the same Yin-Yang theory and principles, which direct, rule and balance the flow of the vital force, as well as other types of energies, within the human body.
Sifu Chen Xiaowang
Since I started training with Sifu Chen Xiaowang in 1991, I have seen him hundreds of times teaching classes, and not once could I find fault with either his technical mastery or his personal attitude. If you had a chance to train with him or even to attend one of the workshops he conducts all over the world, you’d have a perfect illustration of what working with a master means. His skill is unmatched, especially in positioning, adjusting and aligning students’ posture, not just in the basic Zhan Zhuang stance, but in every single technique of the forms, both externally and internally.