Beginning to Learn the Chen Style of Taijiquan

Suggestions, Comments, Notes, Research, Progress Reports, Studies, Plans


Notes, Research, and Studies by
Michael P. Garofalo
Red Bluff, California 

Cloud Hands Blog     Chen Blog Posts     Chen Style of Taijiquan     Taijiquan     Qigong

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Notes on Learning Chen Taijiquan


This webpage was last modified or updated on March 21, 2016.


1.  Practice!  More Practice!  Even More Practice!  Then do some more practice.  Continue to practice each day!


2.  A good teacher is essential to your progress in Chen Style of Taijiquan.  I live in a rural area of Northern California, 130 miles north of Sacramento.  There is no Chen Style Taijiquan teacher in my area.  Therefore, being that I am determined to learn Chen Style Taijiquan, I use instructional DVDs and books.  Someday, when opportunities and finances permit, I look forward to direct instruction from a qualified teacher.  Until then, I can make steady progress in studying and learning more about the Chen Style Taijiquan by using instructional DVDs and books. 


3.  In 2011, I studied and learned to practice the short Chen Taijiquan 18 Movement Form created by Grandmaster Cheng Zheng-lei.  I now practice this form on a daily basis.  I learned this short Chen Taijiquan form by using instructional DVD's by Master Jiang Jian-ye and Patrick Martin.  I favor using instructional DVDs where the instructor speaks English, not a subtitled or voice over instructional DVD.  I own and use many books by Grandmaster Chen Zheng-lei, and own and use many of his Chen Taijiquan DVDs.  Also, I have taught 12 people this form, and by teaching you learn even more.  


4.  Starting in 2004, I began to share my research and intellectual knowledge of the Chen Style of Taijiquan with others on my many Chen Taijiquan webpages.  When you share your research and knowledge, it motivates you to improve. 


5.  In October, 2015, I began reviewing and learning the Chen Saber Form.  This is a 32 movement form.  I practice this form with a broadsword and/or my cane.  (The inside of the crook of the cane is substituted for the curved blade side of the saber, and the long flat side of the cane is substituted for the backside unsharpened side of the saber.)  I am learning this Chen Taijiquan Saber form using the instructional DVD by Master Jesse Tsao and Sifu Ken Gullette. 


6.  Success in the practice of the Chen Style of Taijiquan requires that you be in good physical condition.  I physically condition my body in a variety of ways.  I work on physical conditioning in some way every day.  I lift weights with a bodybuilding routine, walk outdoors, walk on a treadmill or stationary spin bicycle indoors, teach three yoga/qigong classes each week, teach two taijiquan classes each week, and actively garden and work on home improvement projects.  I am in fairly good physical condition for a 70 year old man. 


7.  Chen Taijiquan has a clear recorded history:

"The special nature of Tai Chi Chuan practice was attributed to the ninth generation Chen Village leader, Chen Wangting (陳王廷; 陈王庭; 15801660). He codified pre-existing 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 Wangting 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, Wangting 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; 15281588). 

Chen Changxing (陳長興 Chn Chngxīng, Ch'en Chang-hsing, 17711853), 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 Luchan (17991871), who went on to popularize the art throughout China, but as his own family tradition known as Yang-style t'ai chi ch'uan.  The Chen family system was only taught within the Chen village region until 1928."
Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan - Wikipedia



Chen Wangting (陳王廷; 15801660)




8.  I study books about Chen Taijiquan every week.  You can find these listed by title on my Chen Taijiquan webpages.  I own and use many Chen Taijiquan books and media marked with the code VSCL (Valley Spirit Center Library). 


9.  I regularly make posts to my Cloud Hands Blog about Chen Taijiquan.  Look in the right side bar for the Chen Taijiquan subject heading and follow the leads to posts and webpages on the subject.  


10.  In March of 2016, I began my serious study and my daily practice of the Chen Taijiquan Old Frame, First Form, Lao Jia Yi Lu.  Really getting comfortable with the practice of the entire form up to movement 40, and gaining a basic understanding of this traditional form is my main learning objective for 2016.   I use many books and, most important, instructional DVDs in this order.

1.  Chen Tai Chi Laojia Yilu.  By Sifu Ken Gullette.

2.  Chen Style Tai Chi Old Frame Routine One.  By Master Jesse Tsao.

3.  Traditional Chen Village, Chen Style Tai Chi, Lao Jia Yi Lou.  By Shifu Jiang Jian-ye.


10.  Learn and practice Silk Reeling skills and Qigong. 



11.  Principles of Chen Taijiquan


"The fundamental principles for Chen Style T'ai Chi Ch'uan are summarized as follows:

Keeping the head upright (虚领顶劲, xū ling ding jin)

Keeping the body straight (立身中正, lshēn zhōngzhng)

Drop the shoulders and sink the elbow (松肩沉肘, sōng jiān chn zhou)

The chest curve inwards and the waist pressed forward.(含胸塌腰, hn xiōng tā yāo)

Sink the energy to the dantian (心气下降, xīn q xi jing)

Breathe naturally (呼吸自然, hū xī z rn)

Relax the hips and keep the knees bent (松胯屈膝 ,sōng ku qū xī)

The crotch is arch shaped (裆劲开圆, dāng jn kāi yun)

Keep the mind pure and clear (虚实分明, xū sh fēn mng)

The top and bottom work together (上下相随. shng xi xiāng su)

Adjust hardness and softness (刚柔相济, gāng ru xiāng j)

Alternate fast and slow (快慢相间, (kui mn xiāng jin)

The external shape is curved (外形走弧线, wi xng zou h xin)

The internal energy travels a spiral path (内劲走螺旋, ni jn zou lu xun)

The body leads the hand (以身领手, yi shēn ling shou)

The waist is an axis (以腰为轴, yi yāo wi zhu)

Chen Style T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Wikipedia


12.  Go to Learning the Chen Style of Taijiquan




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Biography of Michael P. Garofalo


Red Bluff, Tehama County, North Sacramento Valley, Northern Central California, U.S.A.
Cities in the area: Oroville, Paradise, Durham, Chico, Hamilton City, Orland, Willows, Corning,
Rancho Tehama, Los Molinos, Tehama, Proberta, Gerber, Manton, Cottonwood,
Anderson, Shasta Lake, Palo Cedro, and Redding, CA, California.


Michael P. Garofalo, 2013-2016, All Rights Reserved

This webpage was last modified or updated on March 21, 2016.   

This webpage was first published on the Internet on October 1, 2013.   


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