china holiday

Although the theory of yin and yang (Tai chi ) is a few thousand years old and as a concept has been applied to everything from traditional Chinese medicine,Taoism,Feng Shui ,etc, the actual martial art we know as Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan) was formulated a few hundred years ago by the Chen family in Henan Province which is today famous for its martial arts schools and is also the birthplace of Shaolin Gongfu.

There are said to be up to 10,000 martial arts schools in Henan alone making it the mecca of Chinese martial arts.Here is the story of how Tai Chi Chuan began with a family called Chen.

Chen Bu (陳仆; 陈卜) was a skilled martial artist who started the martial arts tradition within Chen Village. The Chen family were originally from Shanxi, Hong Dong (山西洪洞). Chen Bu, considered to be the founder of the village, moved from Shanxi to Wen County, Henan Province (河南溫县) in 1374.

The new area was originally known as Chang Yang Cun (常陽村) or Sunshine village and grew to include a large number of Chen descendants. Because of the three deep ravines (Gou) beside the village it came to be known as Chen Jia Gou (陳家溝) or Chen Family creek/brook.

For generations on wards, the Chen Village was known for their martial arts. The special nature of Tai Chi Chuan practice was attributed to the ninth generation Chen Village leader, Chen Wang ting (陳王廷; 陈王庭; 1580–1660).

He codified preexisting Chen training practice into a corpus of seven routines. This included five routines of Tai chi chuan (太極拳五路), 108 form Long Fist (一百零八勢長拳)and a more rigorous routine known as Cannon Fist (炮捶一路).

Chen Wang ting integrated different elements of Chinese philosophy into the martial arts training to create a new approach that we now recognize as the internal martial arts.

He added the principles of Yin-Yang theory (the universal principle of complementary opposites), the techniques of Doayin (leading and guiding energy) and Tu-na (expelling and drawing energy), theories encountered in Traditional Chinese Medicine and described in such texts as the Huang Di Nei Jing(《黃帝內經》; Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Chinese Medicine).

In addition, Wang ting incorporated the boxing theories from sixteen different martial art styles as described in the classic text, Ji Xiao Xin Shu(繼效新書; “New Book Recording Effective Techniques”; ~ 1559-1561) written by the Ming General Qi Jiguang (戚繼光; 1528–1588).

Chen Changxing (陳長興 Chén Chángxīng, Ch’en Chang-hsing, 1771–1853), 14th generation Chen Village martial artist, synthesized Chen Wangting’s open fist training corpus into two routines that came to be known as “Old Frame” (老架; lao jia).

Those two routines are named individually as the First Form (Yilu; 一路) and the Second Form (Erlu; 二路, more commonly known as the Cannon Fist 炮捶).

Chen Changxing, contrary to Chen family tradition, also took the first recorded non-family member as a disciple, Yang Lu-Chan  (1799–1871), who went on to popularize the art throughout China, but as his own family tradition known as Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan.

The Chen family system was only taught within the Chen village region until 1928.So Yang style had 140 more years exposure to the general public and therefore become more well known within China .

irish trip china

Outside of China it was only in the 1980`s when China started to open up, that genuine Chen Tai Chi masters were selected in Chen village to spread the real original art to the rest of the world.

The first high level master, Chen Style Tai Chi Grandmaster Chen Xiao Wang, visited Ireland in the early 1990’s hosted by Gill Keogh in Donegal.

Shifu Niall O Floinn invited Grandmaster Chen to visit Galway and this inspired Shifu to eventually arrange to have a high level teacher visit regularly so the Galway Tai Chi Academy hosted the first visit to Ireland of Grandmaster Wang Hai Jun in 2002 and he is still coming here to teach us the original Taijiquan of the Chen family.

Grandmaster Wang has trained the most national champions of China, so we are extremely fortunate to have the best level of coaching possible for our students and all those who come from other clubs for seminars in Galway with Grandmaster Wang.

In 2010, Shifu Niall O Floinn hosted renowned 11th generation lineage holder of Chen style Tai Chi, Grandmaster Chen Zheng Lei, who commented that the level of skill on the west coast of Ireland was the highest he had seen in all of Europe!