By Chen Zhonghua

In 1930, Yang Style Taiji was the most popular form of Taiji and was widely known in Beijing. The Wu Style of the Wu family and the Wu Style of Hao Weizhen (also know as the Wu/Hao style) were also trendy. Chen Style, however, did not enjoy such popularity at the time and the people of Beijing were unfamiliar with it even though it was the original form of Taijiquan (also known as Tai Chi today). Chen Style was created by Chen Wangting (1600-1680) of the Chen Family in the village of Chen Jiagou in Wenxian County, Henan Province, China during the twilight of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

When Wu Style Taijiquan Master Liu Musan heard that Chen Fake (pronounced as Chen Fa-Ke) of the Chen Village was in Beijing (Chen Fake arrived in Beijing in 1928), he made sure that his school was one of the first to have the honor of Chen’s presence. What greater occasion could have been arranged for Taiji devotees at that time than to have a demonstration of Taiji by a true master of the Chen Village!

The exhibition was arranged to take place in the courtyard of Liu Musan’s school. Everyone was excited about this upcoming event. In making last minute arrangements, Master Liu reminded his students to bring their own chairs. It was believed that in Taiji practice, the better one gets, the slower the movements. High level masters of the Yang and Wu styles were taking up to 45 minutes for one routine or a set. Master Liu deemed that Chen Fake would take up at least 2 hours!

Chen Fake appeared on time. He did the Cannon Fist routine (Pao Chui), thanked his host and the students and promptly left. The whole event took under 3 minutes!

Dead silence fell on the courtyard. Upon close examination, students observed that some of the stone floor tiles were broken. Is this good Taiji? Is this Taiji? Students and the master were both baffled.

None of what they saw matched their expectations of Taijiquan. Master Liu took the affair with an open mind and gave Chen Fake the benefit of the doubt. His subsequent actions led to the dissemination and popularization of this great style of Taijiquan.

After that destined event, he took his entire student body, including himself, to study from Chen Fake. This event established Chen Fake as a leading master of Taijiquan and began his teaching career which lasted for many years until his death in 1957. Liu is the unsung hero in the dissemination of Chen Style Taijiquan. Not much about Liu Musan is known, except for the bits and pieces of information written by his one-time students Hong Junsheng (Jinan) and Pan Yongzhou (Taiwan).

One of the students who sat in a chair to watch Chen Fake was a young man by the name of Hong Junsheng. Fifteen years after that event, Hong Junsheng became a master of Chen Style Taijiquan in Jinan, Shandong, China. Sixty-six years later, he passed away quietly in the same city, leaving behind a huge legacy of Chen Style Taijiquan. In the province of Shandong and the city of Jinan in particular, Hong taught close to 10,000 students in his 66 years of teaching. Among them over 20 are accomplished masters and several are internationally acknowledged masters of the art.

In 1979, I was a naive university student in Jinan. I was enrolled at the Foreign Languages Department of the Shandong University . Shandong University was located in Hong Jialou, or Hong family pagoda, about half an hour bicycle ride from Hei Hu Quan, where Hong Junsheng taught.

On a Sunday morning my chaquan (A popular form of Chinese external martial art, it was one of the major predecessors of Wushu) brother and I watched Hong Junsheng as he demonstrated the Chen Style Taijiquan form and push hands at the Black Tiger Springs Park . I had no comprehension or appreciation of the significance of his movements. It was my inquisitiveness and naivety that touched upon a series of unexpected chain of events that led to my lifetime pursuit of this unique art.

In 2001, I gave up a well-paying job to pursue full-time teaching of Chen Style Taijiquan. In 2004, the Hong family officially named me their family’s international standard-bearer for the safeguarding and promotion of the art of Hong Junsheng.

This little book contains a collection of simple writings about Taijiquan. In addition to its devastating martial ability and health benefits, Taijiquan is learned to gain insights into the meaning of life. In my teachings, I continue with Hong’s tradition of using analogies and simple stories to convey the deep meaning of the art and of life. Life is an idiom and Taiji is an analogy.

This collection is the result of that method during one of my teaching sessions. My students and I wrote these simple articles to shed light on the what, why and how of Chen Style Taijiquan.

What we write about may baffle you or strike you as unadorned, but give us some slack. Pull up a chair and enjoy it. You might learn something from these sincere stories!


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