THE CHEN FAMILY'S TAI-CHI CHUAN

Tai-Chi Chuan has been recorded in formal documents since the time of Chen Wang-Ting. Chen was born in Ho-Nan province in northern China during the late sixteenth century and was appointed as an army officer in San-Tung province in 1618. He returned to his birthplace at the collapse of the Ming Dynasty in 1644.  At the time he began teaching Tai-Chi Chuan, it consisted of five Lu, or "routines." He also taught two additional Lu: Pao-Twi, which means the punches are very fast and violent, like cannon shots; and Long Chuan, which has 108 postures.

From generation to generation many new teaching methods were accumulated, and many excellent boxers produced.  In each of the five generations after Chen Wang-Ting there was a famous Tai-Chi expert. Chen Chang-Hsin (l77l-l853) united and simplified Chen's Tai-Chi Chuan to a first routine of Tai Chi Chuan, and a second routine of Pao-Twi. Chen Yu-Ben simplified the movements even further in order to meet the requirement and needs of the era; i.e., strict martial arts training was not stressed as much because the gun had been introduced into Chinese weaponry, a development which was to greatly affect all the martial arts. Another, Chen Chin-Ping incorporated the Shiao-jar style for busier and tighter movements. He thus followed the principle of "not changing original action," by which the names of the original movements were left intact, but the postures were altered and circling movements were added to each step. Thus, Chen's Tai-Chi Chuan branched into three styles: Chen Chang-Hsin's Old Style, Chen Yu-Ben's New Style, and Chen Chin-Ping's Shiao-Jar.

The first routine of Chen Chang-Hsin's Tai-Chi Chuan is the oldest known form, from which all other forms have been derived. It has simple movements, more softness and less firmness. Ward-off, roll-back, press and push, or the four directions, were practiced primarily. Elbow, split, pull, and shoulder strike, which are the four corners were practiced secondarily. Both quality and quantity of movement require softness.

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