Short Summary of History of Chen Taiji and Yang Taiji

Original Style:  Chen Style:  It is more likely that Taiji was invented about 350-400 years ago near the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) or the beginning of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), associated with Chen Wang-Ting (陈王庭, 1600-1680), a former military officer who lived in the Chen village in Chenjiagou (陈家沟) in Henan Province (河南省).

Existence of Yang Style Taiji (Yang Lu-Chen):  There are many different styles of Taiji.  The original style is the Chen Style, which gave rise to the Yang Style, when Yang Lu-Chan (楊露禅, 1799-1872) from Hebei Province (河北省), went to the Chen village to work, and then also learned Taiji from Chen Chang-Xing (陈长兴) for an extended period (about 7 years).  Then Yang went back to Beijing in Hebei Province and taught Taiji.  Because many of his students were from the imperial court’s aristocratic class, instead of laborers, farmers, and soldiers, he modified the Chen Style Taiji to make it less physically demanding and more suitable for the aristocratic class, but not necessarily decreased its effectiveness as a martial art. Yang-Style Taiji which is mostly soft and slow became popular and spread. As a matter of fact, Yang Lu-Chan and some of the subsequent masters of the Yang-Style Taiji were superb martial arts fighters who were among the best fighters of their period.  During the next hundred or so years, several other leading practitioners of Taiji made their own modifications and extensions of the Chen Style Taiji and gave rise to the Wu Style (吴式), Sun Style (孙式), and Wu/Hao Style (武/郝 式).  The Yang Style became the most commonly practiced Taiji style in the world.

Reemergence of Chen Style Taiji (Chen Fake):  In the early 1900 there is a reemergence of Chen Style Taiji when Chen Fake became the most dominant martial artist and taught many people around China and the world.  There is an interesting story about Chen Fake.  He was the son of a Chen Style Taiji teacher in Shandong province, but he was weak and in poor health.  When he was 14 in 1901, he overhead from his relatives criticizing his weakness. That served as a wakeup call that he might not be able to carry the tradition of Chen Style Taiji.  So over the next 3 years, he diligently practiced the various forms of his Chen family Taiji and became well known and famous by winning many impromptu competitions where there were no rules and could be very dangerous.  His fame spread and he had many students in China and around the world and resulted in the reemergence of Chen Style Taiji until his death in 1957.  With a mixture of fast and slow movements, as well as a mixture of hard and soft movements, the Chen Style Taiji reemerged again as a popular martial art.  Therefore both the Chen Style Taiji (characterized by a mixture of fast/slow movements and a mixture of hard/soft movements) and the Yang Style Taiji (characterized by mostly slow and soft movements) were practiced by many people in China and around the world throughout the twenty century.  Some of the disciples of both styles of Taiji also became superb martial arts fighters.

Emergence of the New Chen Style Hunyuan Taiji:  One of the best students of Chen Fake was Feng Zhiqiang (冯 志 强) (1928-2012), who besides being a student of Chen Fake, was also a student of the Xingyiquan expert and Qigong master Hu Yaozhen (胡耀貞), who was also an expert in traditional Chinese medicine. Under the guidance of two superb martial arts masters Chen Fake and Hu Yaozhen, Feng Zhiqiang practiced diligently Taiji and Qigong, and synthesized both techniques in a new Chen Taiji Style known as the Chen Style Hunyuan (混元) Taiji.  Feng Zhiqiang became perhaps the most well known Taiji master in the world.  His reputation grew in China and around the world, especially in Japan where he had been challenged many times by karate, judo, and other martial arts experts and successfully met those challenges.  Today the Yang Style Taiji and the Chen Style Taiji (either the traditional Chen Style or the Hunyuan Style) are the two most popular and practiced Taiji forms in the world.

Who Is Carrying on the Tradition After Feng Zhiqiang: After Feng Zhiqiang’s death in 2012, Chen Style Hunyuan Taiji is continued to be taught in Beijing under the leadership of Feng Zhiqiang’s daughter and grandson.  In the U.S. it is taught under the leadership of Wang Feng-Ming, son-in-law of Feng Zhiqiang and who accompanied Feng Zhiqiang in many of his oversea training and teaching trips.  After leaving Beijing in 1994, Mr. Wang taught Taiji in Europe, especially in Finland, for more than a decade, with many students all over Europe. Then around 2007, he moved to the U.S., with his base in central New Jersey.

Form Names of the Chen Style Hunyuan Taiji 24 Form: The two most popular form sets for Chen Style Hunyuan Taiji are the 24 Form and the 48 Form.  The names of the forms in the 24 Form are given below:

1. Commencing Form
2. Warrior Pound Mortar
3. Leisurely Tie Coat
4. Six Blocking Four Closing
5. Single Whip
6. White Crane Spreads Wings
7. Walk Obliquely and Twist Step
8. Lift Hands and Raise Knee
9. Wade Forward and Twist Step
10. Cover Hand Punch
11. Shield Body Punch
12. Lean with Back
13. Green Dragon Emerges from Water
14. Double Push Hands
15. Three Change Palm
16. Reverse Roll Arm
17. Step Back and Press Elbow
18. Middle Winding
19. Flash the Back
20. Ground Punch
21. Chest Level Punch
22. Snap Waist and Press Elbow
23. Head Punch
24. Closing Form
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