Saturday, May 15, 2010
Is Chen-Style Tai Chi Real Tai Chi?
While I was learning Tai Chi from few different masters in China, one of them mentioned that Chen-Style Tai Chi is not real Tai Chi. The reasons he gave were that Chen-Style has moves like jumping that use “double-weight” and are therefore against the fundamental Tai Chi principle of single-weightiness. Chen-Style also embraces power-releasing moves that contradict another fundamental principle of Tai Chi: “don’t use force.”
As many people know, Yang Chen Fu (1883-1936) was the founder of the Yang form of Tai Chi that we are practicing now. Yang Chen Fu was the grandson of Yang Lu Chan (1799-1872) of Yongnian County, in Northern China. Yang Lu Chan came to Chen Village and learned Tai Chi from the Chen Family. In the years that followed, there was no one that did Tai Chi Chuan that had not, in some way, been helped by his influence, including his son Yang Jian Hou and grandson Yang Chen Fu. Yang Jian Hou made some changes and improvements to the original style he and his father learned from the Chen Village. When Yang Chen Fu came of age, he altered the style to more closely resemble the form we know today. He removed jumping, power-stepping and the lower stances, giving us the more open and relaxed, natural and lively, centered and round, simple but detailed movements that have become the standard Yang-Style Tai Chi form.
Today, Chen-Style Tai Chi retains many traditional movements. It is a combination of soft and hard, high and low, fast and slow, motion and stillness, power and emptiness. It has its own unique points. The long fist (1st Chen form) is combination of soft and hard. The Cannon fist (2nd Form), on power releasing, turning and jumping with a few soft movements.
Both Chen and Yang-Style Tai Chi Chuan are treasures of Internal Martial Arts. Yang-Style would not exist had Yang Lu Chan not learned from the Chen family. The real martial artist must respect and master both forms.
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