Brief History of Chen Style Tai Chi
Chen Style Tai Chi is the earliest historically verifiable Tai Chi system in existence in China. It is commonly accepted that Tai Chi was developed in the village of Chenjiagou in Wenxian County, Henan Province, China. According to the Wenxian County Annals, Chen Wangting (1600-1680), a retired military officer and a ninth generation family member of the Chen Family, was credited with having originated Chen Style Tai Chi around 1644. Tai Chi theory is largely based on "The Book of Changes" along with concepts from the meridian theory of traditional Chinese medicine, as detailed in "The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Chinese Medicine". He combined some war field fighting knowledge into it. Influenced greatly by the Ji Xiao Xin Shu (New Book of Effective Techniques), a book on strategy; discipline; and collation of folk marital arts by a famous general, Qi Jiguang (1528-1487) of Shandong during the Ming Dynasty. Qi Jiguang preferred the necessity of rigorous physical fitness training and effective hand-to-hand tactics, and not accepting the superiority of brute strength alone as the determining factor in battle. Chen Wangting carried forward Qi’s essential theories, and created a new way in training called Tai Chi Quan. Chen Wangting was also credited with creating push hands drills, in which students practice "adhering" to each others movements to increase their sensitivity to their partners' intentions, which thereby function as a bridge between solo practice and free sparring.
Chen Changxing (1771-1853), a sixth generation Chen Tai Chi practitioner was famous as the first master teaching his family’s secrets to outsiders. Yang Style Tai Chi founder Yang Luchan (1800 -1873), was his best student. Yang developed his own form, a modified version of the Chen Chanxing's original long form - Liaojia Yilu.
Chen Fake (1887-1957), a ninth generation Chen Tai Chi practitioner, expanded greatly the Chen style Tai Chi to the mainstream of Chinese martial arts. There were numerous stories of Chen Fake's abilities as a martial artist, his courage and skill when establishing his reputation in Beijing, where he came to teach in 1928. Chen Fake taught in Beijing for nearly 30 years, enhancing the reputation of the family style, and establishing a distinguished lineage of his own students. The most famous were: Chen Zhaokwei (son); Feng Zhiqiang; Gu Liuxing, ...
Chen Zhaopei (1893-1973) a 10th generation Chen Tai Chi practitioner. He was invited to teach at Tun Ren Tong, the famous medical establishment, in 1918, his reputation as a martial artist quickly grew and he was lately invited (1930) to teach at the prestigious Nanjing Central Martial Arts Academy. In 1958, Chen Zhaopei returned to Chen village and served as the chief instructor, where he was responsible for passing on the Old Frame (Laojia) and traditional weapons sets to the 11th Chen Tai Chi generation practitioners. Among them are the famous present-day "Four Tigers of Chen's Village", Chen Xiaowang, Chen Zhenglei, Zhu Tiancai, and Wang Xian. He was honored for his effort in saving Chen Village ‘s Tai Chi through the Cultural Revolution difficult time of China!
Chen Zhaokui (1928 - 1981), also a 10th generation of Chen Tai Chi practitioner, joined his father, Chen Fake, in Beijing at the age of 3. He was credited for passing on of the New Frame (Xinjia) to the public. So that, his father Chen Fake started the Xinjia practice, and he taught the Xinjia. He made annual visits to Chen Village after Chen Zhaopei passed away, and taught the Xianjia to the well-known "Four Tigers of Chen's Village". Largely due to his efforts, the Xinjia Chen style Tai Chi flushing in Chen Village nowadays!
Professor Li Deyin is the most influential grandmaster on Jesse Tsao's Tai Chi and Wushu study.
Master Tsao has spent 10 years of intensive study with Professor Li Deyin in Beijing, China. Professor Li is the primary author of the Standard Tai Chi Form 42, which became the first internationally standardized Tai Chi competition routine. He is the Vice President of the Chinese Wushu Association, and he served as Chief Judge at the 11th Asian Games. Below is the lineage for Professor Li Deyin: Professor Li is the 3rd generation of famous masters from the Li family. His grandfather, Li Yulin, was the first generation to study martial arts. He learned Shaolin and "xing yi quan" from Li Cunyi and Hao Enguang; he learned Sun style Tai Chi and Bagua from Sun Lutang (the founder of Sun style Tai Chi); and he learned Yang style Tai Chi and Wudang sword from Li Jinglin (a disciple of Yang Jianhou). He became the president of the Shanghai Shangde Wushu Institute, the main coach of the Shandong Wushu Institute, and the publisher of Harbin Taijiquan Press. He gained the honorable title “Pioneer of Tai Chi” in Northeastern China.
Professor Li Deyin’s father Li Tianchi became a doctor. He integrated wushu, medical science, and tuina (massage) in order to better treat his patients. His name and medical treatments became famous all over Harbin and Heilongjiang. Professor Li’s uncle Li Tianji studied wushu from his father, Li Yulin, as well as from his father’s masters, Sun Lutang and Li Jinglin. He graduated from the Shandong Wushu Institute, became a college professor, the executive of the Harbin Wushu Federation, and the first chief coach of the China Wushu Team. Li Tianji has been memorialized as one of the “Ten Best Wushu Masters of China."
In 1956 Li Tianji created the first standardized Simplified Tai Chi Form 24 and Simplified Tai Chi Sword Form 32. Both routines opened the door of Tai Chi to novices and non-athletes, and both are now extremely popular all over the world. For this, he earned the title “Father of Contemporary Tai Chi.”
Professor Li Deyin began Tai Chi and Wushu training with his grandfather Li Yulin and uncle Li Tianji when he was only eight years old. Tai Chi and Wushu took him to all different regions and masters in China. He traveled to Shaolin Temple and Mount Wudang to study from advanced abbots; he sought out Master Li Jingwu to learn Chen style taijiquan, Master Xu Zhiyi to learn Wu style, Master Sun Jianyun to learn Sun style, and Master Hao Jiajun to learn Yang style and Push Hands.
Sun Lutang, founder of Sun style Tai Chi
Li Jinglin, disciple of Yang Jianhou
Li Yulin, Professor Li's grandfather
Li Tianji coaching his disciples
Li Tianji and his brother practicing
Li Tianji with Ma Yueliang, Wu Yinghua, and Wu Tunan
Li Tianji visits Shaolin and Wudang Mountain
Li Tianji designing Tai Chi Form 24,1956
Li De Yin (Standing) with Shaolin Abbot De Chan
Jesse Tsao received private training from Professor Li in Beijing China, 1997
Professor Li's wish to Jesse Tsao to carry the Tai Chi tradition