Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan
Another candidate for the role of t'ai chi founder is Chen Wang-ting. Some believe he created the art based on his military experiences, his study of local boxing methods and his gleaning of classical texts like Ch'uan Ching (Boxing Classics), which was written by Chi Che-kwong (Qi Jiguang) (1528 - 1587) as a compellation of known methods.
Chen developed several forms, and his family passed them along only to its members. At the 14th generation, around the late 1700s and early 1800s, Chen's style spilt into the "old-frame" and the "new-frame" versions. The New frame was taught by Chen Yu-pen, and the Old frame by Chen Chang-hsing.
It was at this time that an outsider learned the art and started opening it up to the rest of the world. These days, students can learn several versions of the Chen style - including the old frame, new frame and modern forms- as well as offshoots which developed in towns located near the Chen family village. There are many variations of Chen style.
The Chen form requires the body to be straight and upright. Variations of the horse stance are emphasized. In the most popular version, which was taught by Feng Zhiqiang, the basic stance has the toes pointing outward slightly. Other forms use a parallel-foot horse stance. In all reputable versions, the knees are positioned directly above the toes. Most movements are executed with a sideways orientation - as if one's opponents are standing to the side. The two of the most famous and highest level teachers today are Chen Xiaowang and Feng Zhiqiang who teach different versions of Chen style.
A novel part of the Chen style is the multitude of explosive movements: jumps, strikes and kicks. There is an emphasis on "silk-reeling energy", or the spiraling energy that flows from the feet to the hands. Even thought the art is performed quickly, the practitioner should remain loose and relaxed. Any tension or disjointed movements mean it is being done incorrectly. It is difficult to practice the Chen style correctly because of the ease with which excessive force and muscle tension can creep into its movements. Perhaps this is why some hard stylists can do impressive imitations of this style - but without using the correct concepts. It may also be the reason the Chen style appeals to martial arts students who need a tangible sense of speed and force.
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