About TaiJiQuan, AKA Tai Chi

太極拳 TaiJiQuan is a traditional internal martial art, created by the Chen family starting with 陳卜 Chen Bu (1372 AD) during Ming Dynasty, and later codified by 陳王廷 Chen WangTing. Chen family style is the originating style for all other families of TaiJiQuan (“tai chi”). It is first and foremost a combat and survival tool, but with strong health regenerative benefits due to two reasons: 1) Its combat reliance on healthy and flexible spine and joints, and 2) blood and “Qi” energy circulation and application.

This means one single training method can help the practitioner fend off threats from any environmental hazards, whether from diseases, humans, terrain, or objects. The yin-yang symbol is the best representation of TaiJiQuan, a balance of the yielding (陰 yin/negative) and the assertive (陽 yang/positive). No matter how many ways it has been interpreted, most end up with the theme of balance. Cold vs hot energy, negative vs positive, slow vs quick, yielding vs exertion.

Why We Are Unique:

What makes our traditional style teaching different is the hands-on correction of spines and hips to achieve relaxation and suppleness at every stage of the instruction, which many of “tai chi” teachers around the world will never do, either because they lack the knowledge, or they are actively holding back.

The Chen Village teaching tradition mandates honest transmission of knowledge. Let the arduous training do the filtering; the job of Village instructors is to teach the system in its entirety.

Master Chen ZiQiang demonstrating short version of Old and New Frames (LaoJia and XinJia). Courtesy of Mirko Lorenz and World Chen XiaoWang Taijiquan Association, Germany.
Grandmaster Chen XiaoXing (father of Chen ZiQiang) demonstrating fluidity and explosive forces of Old and New Frames.

Testimonials from students are after 4 classes average, 1.5 hour per class. 

However, nowadays Taijiquan is watered down to a simple slow dance devoid of the essential spinal and hip alignment and movement. Without this alignment, the health benefit is diminished where time spent could have reaped much more reward. Also, without the explosive bursts of energy 發勁 (fajin, see video above at time mark 2:01), there is no balance between yin yang. For too long traditional Taijiquan has been bastardized into some kind of flowery dance (花拳繡腿) relegated to “old men in the park”*, labeled “tai chi”. While flowery-dance Tai Chi can claim some health benefits, traditional Taijiquan amplifies these benefits with greater and faster results.

*Does not apply to all “old men in the park”, as the authentic ones are indeed extremely powerful and prefer to train in anonymity.

Martial vs Health

Some may argue the martial aspect is different than the health, but that would be false. Chen family Taijiquan (from whence all other Taijiquan styles were born) was created to defend the village. Health benefit is a byproduct of its internal gongfu nature. Here’s a few examples why the martial and health are like two passengers in the same car going the same direction:

  • Spinal alignment. The goal is to have a straight spine by gently pulling it up by the base of skull while pulling it down at the tail bone. This is achieved by proper standing post and then used in the forms.

    Health Benefit: A relaxed and straight spine allows the flow of synovial fluid, energy, and blood. This helps rid of back pains and headaches.

    Martial Benefit: A relaxed and straight spine allows for the flow of power and quick movement, and lowering the center of gravity.

  • Hip joint stretching, strengthening and relaxation.

    Health Benefit: This is why 90 year old internal arts practitioners can still run up flights of stairs with agility. While mobilizer muscles atrophy as we age, tendons do not deteriorate as much. The modern man sits way too much and already degraded his stabilizers and tendons.

    Martial Benefit: Hip joint tendons are some of the most powerful and sturdy body parts we have. It is able to generate bursts as well as absorb shock.

Bottom line: if you want to be stronger and healthier, you can take the initiative and fix yourself through hard work. Or help some doctor/therapist get rich

About Instructor

Zheng Lin
Zheng LinChief Instructor at Chenjiagou Taijiquan Academy, Denver Branch
Zheng Lin is an indoor disciple of Chen ZiQiang 陳自强, Chief Instructor of the Chenjiagou Chen Village Taijiquan School 陈家沟太極拳学校 (tjqxx.com). The main school is under the direction of Principle Chen XiaoWang 陳小旺 and Chen XiaoXing 陳小星. Chen Village gave birth to all styles of what Westerners call Tai Chi.

Instructor’s Influential Teachers

  • First internal martial arts teacher and family friend, Grandmaster Doo Wai 杜偉, the sole lineage holder of White Tiger Clan 白虎派.

  • First Taijiquan teacher, the late Master Michael Rosario-Graycar of Phoenix Martial Arts Studio.

  • Master Ren GuangYi 任廣義, first disciple of Grandmaster Chen XiaoWang 陳小旺 to bring Chen Village Taijiquan to the United States.

Pronunciation:

“Tai chi” is an inaccurate romanization based on the system developed by a couple of (apparently tone-deaf) Brits named Thomas Wade and Herbert Giles. Nobody in Taiwan or Mainland China says “tai chi”. They all say “Tai Ji” or “Tai Ji Quan“. The last word “Quan” means fist, and is pronounced ch’uan. I’m using “Tai Chi” for my school’s name because otherwise nobody will find us in this century.