Chen Tai Chi Chuan Style - Origin, History and Forms | Tai Chi Basics (2023)

What do you get when you work on the same problem for 700 years or work your way up? You will obtain knowledge, effort and commitment from more than 20 generations. How do you make sure this work makes sense, doesn't get lost, and gets done? You will integrate your progress in writing, teaching, and a variety of physical movements. Then pass it on to the next generation before you die. Chen-style Tai Chi Chuan is a gift. It is a living body of knowledge where we participate in a long tradition and learn about our bodies and ourselves in the process.

Chen-style Tai Chi is a Chinese internal martial art characterized by a combination of fast and slow movements that alternate between relaxation and the use of force. It is the oldest form of Tai Chi, originating in Chenjiagou (Chen Town) in the 13th century and influencing the development of the other main styles of Tai Chi.

You don't have to practice tai chi to find this story and its development super interesting. If you're a practitioner of any style, it's amazing to see how your current endeavors and lineage are part of a long history that advances our understanding of ourselves and the connection between body movements and our mental and physical states. Here I have summarized an overview of the history, movements and current modern forms.

What is the essence of Chen-style Tai Chi?

Chen-style tai chi differs significantly from other forms of tai chi and other internal martial arts. It contains a greater balance between the martial and health aspects of Tai Chi. Maintains combat applications. Like other forms of Tai Chi, there are support exercises such as 8 energies and warm-up exercises. Chen-style tai chi also offers additional exercises to develop internal and external strength, such as: B. Shaking the pole, winding the silk, and the Tai Chi Ball. Additionally, he continues to train many of the traditional weapons and incorporates standing meditation into the practice.

At its core, Chen-style tai chi is a curriculum designed to develop your fighting skills and health, while instilling philosophy through movement. Let's take a look at its history to understand what influenced art and how it could become so complete and complex.

Chen Tai Chi Chuan Style - Origin, History and Forms | Tai Chi Basics (1)

History of Chen Tai Chi Style

To be honest, there are several competing theories about the exact origin and history of Chen Style Tai Chi. Each of these theories is based on facts gleaned from documents written by people who lived at different times, but neither theory completely disproves the other. My goal in this section is to have fun! If we embark on the "what is absolutely true" arguments, we totally miss the point:

Chen Tai Chi has a rich history spanning over 700 years, culminating in the forms of physical, mental, and emotional development available to us today.

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For fun, let's start with the various historical theories and then talk a bit about what makes the movement of this style unique and the different forms that are practiced. The development of Tai Chi since the 19th century has produced all the modern forms, all the separate family lines, and the international popularity of this moving art form.

5 theories on the origin of the Chen Tai Chi style

#1 They were the founders of Chen Village

In the late 13th century, members of the Chen family immigrated from Shanxi Province to what is now Chen Town. Chen Bu was considered one of the greatest martial artists of his time and founded the village. There are deep gorges nearby, "Gou" in Chinese. Hence the name Chen Family Creek or ChenJiaGou.

#2 It was a Taoist monk or his disciple who invented Chen-style Tai Chi

There are two monks mentioned in texts that talk about the original source of Tai Chi. Zhang Sanfeng was a monk known for his knowledge of Taoist and Confucian studies. He is credited with creating Neijia or the idea of ​​internal martial arts. Wang Zongyue, himself a legend, was a Taoist monk and disciple of Zhang Sanfeng. He is credited with writing one of the great tai chi classics, The Tai Chi Treatise. From this book we draw many of the metaphors and training principles of modern Tai Chi.

I hope you can see the influence of these two men's work on modern Chen-style Tai Chi Chuan. The importance of his work had not escaped the attention of a retired military officer who would become one of Chen Village's key leaders.

#3 He Was A Military Officer Who Retired To Chen Village

We have to fast-forward a few hundred years to the mid-17th century when Chen Wangting, a Ming Dynasty military officer, retired to Chen Village and became the ninth-generation village headman. Chen Wangting was a military garrison commander tasked with protecting trade and caravans in the region. The end of the Ming dynasty marked the end of his rule and the beginning of the development of the codified practice of combat training.

chen wangtinghe combined his military experience with the teachings he received on Taoist philosophy in seven training routines. His contribution to what we currently know as internal martial arts cannot be underestimated. He combined combat strategies from theNew Effective Accounting Techniques, the Chinese medical theory ofCanon of Chinese Medicine of the Yellow Emperor, philosophy of dualism and oppositesYin-Yang theoryas well as leading energy research (Daoyin), and expel energy (Tuina).

#4 There Was A Taoist Monk Who Visited Chen Village And Associated It With Internal Arts

To some extent, most writings on Chen-style tai chi dealt with the harder martial aspects of the art, or the cannon fist (pao chui). This definitely indicates a relationship between tai chi and kung fu, which makes sense given Chen Village's proximity to the Shaolin Temple. A small number of texts refer to the arrival in Chen Village of a Taoist master, Jiang Fa, who takes it upon himself to combine the external and internal aspects of tai chi that distinguish it from other styles of kung fu.

(Video) Traditional Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan - Essential fundamentals, basic push hands & demonstrations

Whether he was there and did the work himself, his influence was recognized by Chen Changxing, who is responsible for developing the Chen Tai Chi style we know today.

#5 It was a member of the Chen family who developed the structure of principles, forms and styles

Chen Tai Chi Chuan Style - Origin, History and Forms | Tai Chi Basics (2)

At the beginning of the 19th century, we have a very extensive documentation that includes illustrations of the development of the Chen Tai Chi weapon and forms. There are documents from schools, training procedures, research on old topics, and documentation of new ideas. Chen Changxing was a 14th generation martial artist. He:

  • It combines all of the above training programs in two forms: Old Frame First Routine (Lao Jia YiLu) and Old Frame Second Routine (Lao Jia Erlu or Cannon Fist).
  • He adopted the first non-Chen student, Yang Luchan, the founder of Yang Tai Chi, and popularized the art internationally.

If you read carefully the various possibilities above, you will see that they can all be true. Little by little, century after century, the idea of ​​tai chi was developed and transmitted until it gained enough critical mass to merge with the rich and varied knowledge that we know today. Trying to say exactly what the origins of tai chi are causes us to miss out on some of the rich history. Also, all of the above had to be incredibly open-minded to consider all of the alternative theories that dramatically influenced the art and made it unique.

Masters of the modern Chen style

With the spread of this art for centuries in Chen Village, there have not only been many old masters, but also many who are still teaching. Here's a great book of modern interviews:Chen Taijiquan: Masters and Methods

Chen style tai chi movements

What Makes Chen Style Tai Chi Movements Unique? All of the above influences are captured in the forms and poses of the Chen style. The forms are meant to be educational in a number of ways. They show the dynamics of opposites of physical energies. The forms move through soft and hard movements, fast and slow, small and large, high and low postures. Chen-style tai chi movements are very different from other styles, which may lack martial aspects, strength training, or posture changes.

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Chen Tai Chi movements are also unique in their use of spiral movements and the training ofspool of silk. Whether you're doing warm-ups, weapons practice, or open-hand forms, the moves spiral out from the center with aFocus on the body as the initiating force that transfers the energy to the arms and legs.

Chen Tai Chi Chuan Style - Origin, History and Forms | Tai Chi Basics (3)

Estilos de Tai Chi Chuan Chen

In general, there are four forms of Chen-style open hands and four main weapons. The open-handed forms have been modified to create shorter, more competitive versions, and additional weapons have been added, such as dual weapons.

  • Old Frame First Routine (Lao Jia YiLu)
  • Old Frame Second Routine (Lao Jia Erlu), also known as Cannon Fist (Pao Chui)
  • Neue Frame-First-Rutina (Xin Jia YiLu)
  • New Frame Second Routine (Xin Jia Erlu), also known as Cannon Fist (Pao Chui)

The old frames are the molds made by Chen Changxing in the 19th century. His student Chen Zhaopei and his uncle Chen Fake (fah-kuh) are considered two of the greatest modern martial artists. They moved to Beijing in the early 20th century and began teaching a softer art form called New Frame. Although it is recognized as part of the Chen style forms, not all Chen practitioners practice both.

The first routine of the Chen Style Tai Chi Ancient Framework is considered an introductory form that includes all the movements and knowledge of the art. The second routine is much more advanced and faster. There are innumerable (8, 13, 18, 24, 26, 48, 56...) shorter forms that have been developed by different schools to support the teaching of Old Frame Chen style Taijiquan. Too many to list here, but as an example, here are notes Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei shared during a lecture on his Chen Style 18 form:Estilo Chen Tai Chi 18 aus PDF.

The four main weapons that we discuss in separate essays are thestraight sword,sable,speed, Ylong post, with some schools also teaching thisguan dao. we also writea great essay on weaponswith some great video examples.

Still not full and want to learn more about Tai Chi?

As amazing as the Chen style is, it's just one of many families. We've written an overview of the most popular shapes and created separate articles for the different styles, all linked here:

An overview of the main styles of Tai Chi

This is part of a series of articles we have written on the most popular Tai Chi styles. Keep reading in this direction or discoverhow to improve your tai chi form.

What styleSummary of Tai Chi stylesWu family style
chen styleEstilo ZhaobaoWu/Hao-style
sun styleTai Chi en estilo WudangCheng Man Ch‘ing-Stil

(Video) The origin of Taiji and its evolution into the five major styles

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What is the history of Chen style Tai Chi? ›

Based on Qigong and martial art techniques from thousands of years ago, Chen Wangting developed the Chen Style Tai Chi around 1670. It is characterised by contrasting and complimentary movements-slow and soft versus fast and hard. It contains explosive power and low stances.

How many forms are there in Chen Tai Chi? ›

Tai Chi Forms: Chen Style

This manner of training is common to many martial arts and allows people to practice alone when the martial artist does not have a training partner. Even though, it is said that Chen style started out with 7 different forms, only 2 forms remain.

What is the origin of the tai chi chuan? ›

Tai Chi Chuan (also written as Taijiquan) is an ancient Chinese form of exercise originally created as a fighting art. Tai Chi was accredited to a Taoist Monk named Zhang San Feng as its creator. Its origins date back over 700 years, some say even up to 1500 years.

What are the first 5 forms of Tai Chi? ›

The Five Different Types of Tai Chi

There are five primary forms or “styles” of Tai Chi: Chen, Yang, Hao, Wu, Chen, and Sun. Each follows the same premise, which is to combine meditation and martial arts, but there are some slight variations.

What are the techniques of Chen Style tai chi? ›

Chen-style is characterized by silk reeling (纏絲勁; chán sī jìn), alternating fast and slow motions, and bursts of power (發勁; fa jin). Traditionally, Taijiquan is practiced as a martial art but has expanded into other domains of practice such as health or performances.

What is the easiest Tai Chi style to learn? ›

Selecting the Tai Chi Style That is Right for You

If you are a beginner looking for something that is easy to adopt, Yang and Wu style are easier to learn than some of the other styles. If you are recovering from an injury, Yang style is the recommended style to practise.

Can I learn Tai Chi on my own? ›

While there is no substitute for quality teaching one can learn tai chi at home by using the Tai Chi Foundation DVD, The Principles and Practice of T'ai Chi Chuan™.

What is the oldest Tai Chi form? ›

The Chen Style Tai chi is the oldest and parent form of the five traditional family styles of Tai chi. Chen-style is characterized by Silk reeling, alternating fast/slow motion and bursts of power.

What is the difference between tai chi and tai chi chuan? ›

Tai chi, sometimes written as t'ai chi, is a self-defense and calisthenics technique developed in China centuries ago as a maturation of several similar but separate exercises. The more formal name of this technique is tai chi chuan, which translates loosely to "supreme ultimate boxing."

Why was tai chi banned in China? ›

During the Great Leap Forward (1958 – 62) and the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 76), many ancient ideas and artefacts were destroyed in China. Religion was considered a defilement to the Chinese government and it became harder to practice tai chi because of its strong links to Taoism and Buddhism.

How many movements are there in tai chi chuan? ›

When you begin the practice of tai chi, you'll see that it is not about each move, but more about a series of fluid motions. In fact, there are 108 moves that are all in motion, which is why tai chi is called “moving meditation.”

What are the 8 principles of Tai Chi? ›

He divides its chapters between eight basic principles of Tai Chi-Relaxation, Intention, Awareness, Continuity, Focus, Linking to Your Center, Accepting, and Detaching the Ego.

What are the three pillars of Tai Chi? ›

Tai Chi consists of 'Four Pillars' or types of practice, as well as a variety of physical exercises and meditative practices. The Four Pillars are Qigong, Form, Pushing Hands and Application.

What are the 4 basic moves of Tai Chi? ›

The four basic movements of TC Chuan (a) ward-off (b) rollback (c) press and (d) push movements. The goal of this study was to investigate the movement coordination among the hip, knee, and ankle joints during solo performance of the Tai Chi (TC) basic movements in order to understand its dynamic postural control.

What is the difference between Chen and Yang style Tai Chi? ›

Yang style focuses on the same movements and sequences as Chen, but each movement is expressed in a very yin manner. Everything is soft, the speed is uniform throughout the form. To that end, the Yang style form is usually executed much slower, overall, than is the Chen Style.

Who is Chen style Tai Chi beneficial for? ›

A study published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity found that older adults who practiced tai chi had better balance and reduced their risk of falls compared to those who did not practice tai chi. Tai chi has been shown to be an effective natural therapy for relieving chronic pain.

What are the 5 elements of Tai Chi? ›

In ancient China, the five elements were metal, water, wood, fire, and earth.

How do you greet a Tai Chi master? ›

The Greeting

The method of the Chinese salute – right fist and left palm, has a long traditional and cultural history, and is used to show respect, gratitude and honour to you and to others. It is not a hierarchical trait but a way to show equality between people.

What is a Tai Chi teacher called? ›

Titles: Si-fu(Sifu, [Mandarin: Shifu]) Teacher/father. Your instructor. This name is actually genderless. Female instructors are also called Sifu.

What are the 10 forms of Tai Chi? ›

10 Form
  • Commencing Form.
  • Repulse monkey (L, R)
  • Brush knee (L, R)
  • Part the wild horse's mane (L, R)
  • Cloud hands (L, 2 steps, then return R, 2 steps)
  • Golden rooster stands on one leg (R leg lifts first, then the L)
  • Cross hands and heel kick (R kick, L kick)
  • Grasp peacock's tail (R, L)

Which is harder tai chi or yoga? ›

Tai Chi vs Yoga

Both yoga and tai chi are pretty easy at the beginner level. As the intensity grows, however, you'll find that tai chi is more demanding than yoga. This isn't surprising given tai chi has been developed as a form of martial arts.

What is the best tai chi style for seniors? ›

Nowadays, the most popular form of tai chi is Yang, known for its simplified, less athletic style. Yang uses “large, sweeping movements performed at a slow, even pace” and is simple to learn. For these reasons, not only is it the most popular style, but it's ideal for aging adults.

How many years does it take to master tai chi? ›

However, we estimate 250 - 300 hours spread out over 5-8 years to arrive at a base-line functional level of competency. Those contemplating Tai Chi Teaching as a Career are best advised to consider it like a fine wine that should not be rushed to reach its full maturity.

How many times a week should you do tai chi? ›

You can do Tai Chi as many times each week as you'd like! Some practitioners do Tai Chi twice a day nearly every day of the week. Other practitioners do Tai Chi once a week. Of course, your results will be much more pronounced if you practice more often.

Do you have to be fit to do tai chi? ›

Tai chi, Pilates and yoga are great low-impact activities. They focus on improving your balance and core strength. Generally, these activities are accessible to everyone no matter your age or ability.

How many times a day should you do tai chi? ›

How often should I practice tai chi? We recommend practicing a little bit every day, at least 10 minutes. The health benefits of tai chi come with regular practice.

Why is tai chi so hard to learn? ›

Even though most tai chi movements are simple, they can be complicated when they are movements that you aren't used to doing. Tai chi also requires full-body integration of movement, so trying to jump into tai chi and incorporating the movements of your entire body at once can be a challenge.

Is Tai Chi outlawed in China? ›

Tai Chi not banned in China The reason Falun Gong Qigong is banned because the cults said it can heal anything with the book Zhuan Falun. Qigong and Tai Chi talks about the chi or qi and Falun Dafa talks About the channels too.

Is Tai Chi older than yoga? ›

The first written reference to tai chi was found over 3000 years ago in the I Ching (more commonly known as the Book of Changes), written between 1000–750 BC. Yoga is believed to be even older, estimated at around 5000 years old.

Which Tai Chi style is best? ›

Yang style tai chi is the most popular and widely practiced tai chi style worldwide. In England and America, at least 20 main variations of the Yang style exist, and in China, there are even more. The various schools originated from the approach of a specific master or from a particular geographic region within China.

Which is better Qigong or Tai Chi? ›

Qigong is the simpler and more adaptive of the two, focusing more on cultivating energy known as chi or qi, while tai chi places more emphasis on physical form and requires more discipline.

Are there levels of Tai Chi? ›

Tai chi has no standardized ranking system, except the Chinese Wushu Duan wei exam system run by the Chinese wushu association in Beijing. Most schools do not use belt rankings. Some schools present students with belts depicting rank, similar to dans in Japanese martial arts.

What are the negatives of tai chi? ›

Table 4
Advantages of Tai-chiDisadvantages of Tai-chi
It made me healthierMovements were hard to remember and follow
(2) Improving cognitive and psychological health(4) Difficulty in practicing independently
It made me happierI did not know how to practice by myself
It helped me relax(5) Tai-chi being slow and mundane
16 more rows

Why was Falun Gong banned? ›

Falun Gong books were banned from further publication in July 1996, and official news outlets began criticizing the group as a form of "feudal superstition", whose "theistic" orientation was at odds with the official ideology and national agenda.

Can tai chi be used in a real fight? ›

Tai chi is a most effective martial art, but training to use it for fighting is another matter. The training techniques that lead to the actual fight, such as sparring and fast punches, are the final stage of the martial art components. This stage has a higher chance of injury.

What are Tai Chi moves called? ›

Names for the movements include Perry, Block, Punch, Brush Knee, Strike, Tiger, Return to Mountain, White Crane Spreads its Wings, Hand Strums the Lute, Snake Creeps Down, and more. The first Tai Chi masters based each movement on what they saw in nature, thus inspiring their descriptive names.

What is the greatest benefit of Tai Chi? ›

Tai chi can improve both lower-body strength and upper-body strength. When practiced regularly, tai chi can be comparable to resistance training and brisk walking. Although you aren't working with weights or resistance bands, the unsupported arm exercise involved in tai chi strengthens your upper body.

What are the 8 brocades in Tai Chi? ›

Variously translated as Eight Pieces of Brocade, Eight-Section Brocade, Eight Silken Movements or Eight Silk Weaving, the name of the form generally refers to how the eight individual movements of the form characterize and impart a silken quality (like that of a piece of brocade) to the body and its energy.

What are the 13 postures of Tai Chi? ›

The first four energies can be found in the Grasp Peacock's Tail posture and are known as the Four Primary Hands:
  • Peng (ward off) ...
  • Lu (roll back) ...
  • Ji (squeeze or press, depending on interpretation) ...
  • An (push) ...
  • Tsai (or Cai) (grasp or pluck) ...
  • Lie (or Lieh) (split) ...
  • Chou (or Zhou) (elbow strike) ...
  • Kao (lean or shoulder stroke)

What is the diet for Tai Chi? ›

A tai chi student should pay particular attention to their diet: drink plenty of water, fresh fruit and vegetables, pulses, rice, beans, grains, nuts and seeds. Fast food/junk food, preservatives, additives, nicotine and an excess of alcohol hamper your efforts to be healthy.

Is Tai Chi a spiritual practice? ›

At the heart of it, Tai Chi is a moving meditation in the form of a series of gentle exercises that create harmony between the mind and body. The ultimate purpose is to cultivate our inner life energy (qi) to flow smoothly and powerfully through the body. This is a spiritual experience, as much as a physical one.

How many belts are there in Tai Chi? ›

There are 16 belts in the taijiquan syllabus: White. Yellow. Orange.

What are the 8 methods 5 steps of Tai Chi? ›

It incorporates the eight techniques of Tai Chi: Quiver, Stroke, Squeeze, Press, Picking, Sparring, Elbow and Lean, as well as the five steps of Advance, Retreat, Guarding, Looking Forward and Determination.

What is the symbol of the Tai Chi? ›

The Yin Yang symbol, or Taijitu, consists of black representing yin and white representing yang. It is a symbol that reflects the inescapably intertwined duality of all things in nature, a common theme in Taoism.

What is the difference between Chen and Yang style tai chi? ›

Yang style focuses on the same movements and sequences as Chen, but each movement is expressed in a very yin manner. Everything is soft, the speed is uniform throughout the form. To that end, the Yang style form is usually executed much slower, overall, than is the Chen Style.

What does Chen mean in tai chi? ›

The principle “Chen” is not the same as the Chen style of Tai Chi. Chen (pronounced “chuen”) means sinking. When you sink, you integrate the external and the internal body, enhancing your stability and improving balance.

Who is Chen style tai chi beneficial for? ›

A study published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity found that older adults who practiced tai chi had better balance and reduced their risk of falls compared to those who did not practice tai chi. Tai chi has been shown to be an effective natural therapy for relieving chronic pain.


1. Culture Explained: The Origin of Tai Chi | EP44 Open China
(I'm in China)
2. Origin of Tai Chi by Master Chen Bing
(Bosco Baek)
3. Tai chi chuan for beginners - Taiji Yang Style form Lesson 1
(Master Wong)
4. Tai Chi: Uncover the history behind China's oldest and most recognised styles of martial art
(Tan Suo)
5. Best Tai Chi Documentary: The Grand Ultimate Fist
(10,000 Victories Kung Fu & Tai Chi)
6. 24-posture of Simplied Form Tai Chi Chuan / Tai Ji Quan(simplied yang style,twenty-four movements)
(Wang ShunChang, Chinese Traditional Medicine)


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