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The Chen family

According to extensive research conducted by the historian Tang Hao (1897-1959) in the thirties of  the last century, Taiji Quan has his origins in the village of Chenjiagou in the Chinese province of Henan. For what we must go back to the fourteenth century, a period in which Chen Bu, a farmer from Shanxi province, was recognized as the first ancestor of the Chen´s, who left for the province of Henan in search of new lands. From his peasant origins, we would expect to S. XVII in the person of Chen Wanting (1600 - 1680) old General, for the genesis of what eventually came to be called Taiji Quan.

Under the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644) Chinese martial arts or Zhong Guo Wu Shu, experienced an unexpected boom, and many styles were structured in force today, which undoubtedly we might call the "golden age of the Chinese martial arts .

Genealogy of the Chen family

9th Generation

Chen Wanting (1600-1680)

Chen Wanting  the 4 son of Chen Fumin, a local official, a profesional soldier, Chenjiagou native, developed his work in the late Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644), especially in the province Shandong where strongly suppressed banditry and rebellion.

In 1641 he obtained the post of commander of the militia  of Wen County (Wenxian). Chen Wanting, is often depicted with his lieutenant Jiang Fa, which some authors attribute the genesis of Taiji Quan.

In 1644, after the fall of the Ming Dinasty) Chen Wanting spent his last days in the development, practice and teaching on the sintese of Taiji Quan. According to the Annals of the Chen family (Chenshi Jia Pu) was the first to introduce the boxing practice within the family as well as management of the spear, sword and halberd.

With the advent of the dynasty, Qing (1644 -1911) of Manchu origin, old and retired in Chenjiagou the village of his ancestors Chen Wanting devoted his free time to practicing and teaching martial arts. He is credited with a short treatise called  Quan Jing Zong Ge or " general song of the boxing practice" of which we reproduce a short paragraph:

"Formerly I could carry my guns and heavy loads, in order to placate the rebellions, have faced dangers, known failures and yet the Emperor has given me his grace. Now I feel old and tired. My last partner is the book of the Yellow Emperor's Internal. In times of sadness, I practice boxing. During the work, in my spare time I teach a few pupils the art of becoming tigers and dragons and act properly. "

The disappointment, after the Ming's fall, seemed to be present in the words of the old General.

At that time the Quan Jing (Canon of boxing) of General Qi Jiguang,  was field of study required among the military. This book, described 32 of the techniques, of the 16 styles of Wu Shu popular at the time.

Inspired by the work of Qi Jiguang, Chen Wanting began the genesis of a martial art of special characteristics. Added into the practice the principles of Wu Wei inaction in action, Yin and Yang, Shi Xu (full and empty), Kai He (the opening and closing), Gang Rou (hard and soft) Han Xiong Ba Fei ( relax the chest and open the back), Chen Jian Chui Zhou (sink shoulders and elbows),  Xu Ling Ding Jing (neck relax and concentrate the force on the crown), direct the Qi to the Dantien. Just as the use of Tan Jing, the force "elastic" and alternating between strength "soft" or Chansijing and "hard" or Fajing.

His teaching was transmitted from generation to generation, remaining confined within the Chen family until the early eighteenth century.. "According to historian Tang Hao Chen's original practice was structured Wanting seven forms of hand:

  1. Chenshi Toutao Quan (First sequence of boxing) also known as 13 positions, with 57 movements.
  2. Ertao Quan second sequence of boxing) with 27 movements.
  3. Dasitao Chui  (Grand chaining fist in four parts).
  4. Hong Quan ((red fist) or Xiao Tao Chui Small four-part sequence fist with 23 movements.
  5. Wutao Quan (Fifth chain of boxing) with 29 movements.
  6. Pao Chui (Cannon Fist)
  7. Chang Quan also called Yibailingba Shi (one hundred eight positions).

10th Generation

Chen Ruxin

Disciple of Chen Wanting, Chen Ruxin's genealogy is particularly transcendent  because Chen Chanxing, which we must master the current configuration of the practice of Dajia (high school) of Chen style Taiji Quan is part of it. Moreover, as we will post Chen Chanxing was the first to spread the art outside the family.

Chen Suole

Chen Suole was also a student of Chen Wanting, had two sons, Chen Shenru and Chen Xunru, known for their bravery, they were so were dubbed "Great Warrior of Heaven" (Datian Shen) and "Second Sky Warrior" (Ertian Shen). In the absence of his father at the request of a wealthy merchant Wang Jun Bo just teenagers being defended locality Beipingao,against a group of bandits. This event caused great excitement in Wen County. To commemorate this feat, held annually in Chenjiagou a show holiday. "The two brave scare off bandits" (Shuang Yin Po Zei).

11th Generation

Shenru Chen Chen Xunru, Zhengru Chen Chen Gaoyin

12th Generation

Chen Jingbai

Nicknamed "Shankao" (Shoulder excellent). Jingbai Chen developed his work as an escort of assets during the period Jiaqing (1796 - 1821) in Shandong Province because of his martial prowess, enjoyed such a reputation, which was a full guarantee of security for merchants who deposited in their confidence of him.
In the town of Qing Zhoufu, was attacked by a fighter of the Shaolin Monastery  Wang Dingguo, who defeated.

Chen Jixia

Chen Jixia, learned his art from Chen Xunru, was especially skilled in the art "Zhou" (beat elbow) so it was nicknamed "Shanzhou" (Elbow excellent). Accomplished painter, one morning while engaged in this task, was attacked by surprise by a well-known boxer, famous in the province of Henan, who was easily defeated by a projection.

Chen Jie, Chen Jiadi.

13th Generation

Chen Bingqi, Chen Bingwang y Chen Bingren

These three brothers were at the time the three most famous boxers in Chenjiagou. They were nicknamed "The three heroes." We will make special mention of Chen Bingwang  (1748 -?) As a Master of Chen Chanxing.

Chen Gongzhao, Chen Yaozhao, Chen Daxing.

14th Generation

Chen Chanxing (1771 – 1853)

By his demeanor and his attitud, he was nicknamed Paiwei Dawang ( "The Great King that stands as a trail of the ancestors").  Chen Chanxing learned his craft from Chen Bingwang, his father. He imparted his teaching in the home of Chen Dehu, a place that even today you can visit in Chenjiagou and in which there is a stele erected in his honor

The figure  of Chen Changxing, is doubly important: he was apparently the first to spread Taiji Quan outside the Chen family, which he did in the person of Yang Luchan (which deserves a separate chapter) a native of Hebei Province. Until then, the art had been closely held within the family. On the other hand, is attributed to Chen Chanxing, the current structure of the Chen style in two forms: Yi Lu (first chain) and Er Lu Pao Chui (cannon fist second chaining). When this synthesis was  done, it seemed apparently, that only a few people in  Chenjiagou village knew the complet style at that time.

Are attributed to him three treaties: the "Taiji Quan Yong Yao Wu Yan" (Mention on the rules for martial applications of Taiji Quan, the "Taiji Quan Shi Da Yaolun" (Treaty on the ten key points of Taiji Quan), the " Taiji Quan Zhan Dou Pian "(Commentary on the fighting in Taiji Quan).

Chen Youben

Chen Youben is credited with structuring the branch of Chen style called Xiaojia (small structures) as opposed to Dajia (Great structure) of  Chen Chanxing. That designation, on one hand respond to the conspicuous reduction in the number of movements as well as the smaller amplitude of the same, which are conducted in a more closed way. Also in its implementation shows the removal of difficult movements, plus practice Fajing (force that springs) is much less evident.

Also named in his time at school of Chen Youben, Xinjia (new structure) to distinguish it from Laojia (Old structure) original

Chen Youheng

Chen Youben's brother was ChenYouheng , who trained often together. He died drown in a lake, so his two sons and his students spent exercising with the first.

15th Generation

Chen Genyun

Chen  Genyun learned from his father Chen Chanxing art of Taiji Quan. Chen Genyun was a renowned  escort convoys in the province of Shandong. There is an amusing anecdote  which gives  idea of his tremendous martial prowess: In the town of Laizhoufu, there was a famous inn whose owner, surnamed Tian Wang Er (Second King of Heaven) was a famous martial arts expert . He had at his command a force of over three hundred criminals, who had terrorized the locals. On one occasion, having  news that Chen Genyun would go through the town, came ready to be pitted. Surrounded by the landlord and his henchmen, armed only with a pipe, Chen Genyun, laughing and apologizing, was effortlessly defeating each one of his oponents, who swore fearful respect him.

For over ten years Genyun Chen lived in Shandong Province developing his craft. After his death, almost 80 years, was erected a stele commemorating his credit, on one of the ways of Shandong wich he often protected.

Chen Qingping (1795 – 1898)

Chen Qingping, was a student of Chen Youben and Chen Genyun and therefore linked the two branches of the style (Dajia and Xiaojia).

Chen Qingping style is the origin of Zhaobaojia, Zhaobao is a neighboring village to Chenjiagou (far no more than a few kilometers) to marry. Chen Qingping moved to the village of his wife, there taught his art, whose evolution was renamed Zhaopao style or Hejia (Style I) in honor of He Zhaoyuan one of his leading students. We also need to conect Chen Qingping with the origin of Wu style Taiji Quan since Wu Yuxiang, learned also with him.

Chen Zhongsheng (1809 – 1871) and Chen Jisheng (1809 – 1864)

Chen Zhongsheng and Chen Jisheng, both sons of Chen Youheng, after the death of his father, went to train with his uncle, Chen Youben and Chen Genyun.

In the third year of the Xianfeng era (1853), a revolt of the Taiping formed by hundreds of thousands of people threatened their land, supported by Chen Genyun, they organized the resistance, recruiting over 10,000 men from surrounding villages, thus achieving crush the rebellion and avert the danger. Chen Zhonsheng for his ability, was surnamed Shen Shou (Hand Divine), being also reputed for its handling of the spear Yi Ping Hu Tie Tian Gan Mao.

Chen Jixing, Chen Youlun, Chen Hengshan.


16th Generation

Chen Xin (1849 – 1929)

Without doubt, Chen Xin is one of the major theoretical of Chen school of Taiji Quan, intelligent and literate, worked as a schoolteacher. At desire of his father Chen Zhonsheng, reordered the theoretical foundations of the family art, as reflected in the book Chenshi Taiji Quan Tushuo  (Ilustrated book of Taiji Quan).

Chen Xin reduced the number of movements of the first chain to 64 by making symbolic consistent with each sixty-four hexagrams of the Yijing (Book of Changes), one of the most influential works in Chinese thought. The work was copied to a total of four copies. Some time before dhis death, Chen Xin gave one of the copies, to anhis nephew Chen Chunyu, asking him to burn it, if it was not useful.

Chen Yanxi

Chen Genyun's son, Chen Yanxi exercised Chinese traditional medicine. He taught at the house of Yuan Shikai (1859 - 1916) (5) governor of Shandong province.

Chen Yanxi served for a period of ten years, spreading his art from Shandong Province to Tianjin, he accepted many challenges presented to it without ever being defeated. After that period he returned to Chenjiagou, to look after for his sick mother. He focused on the medicine, dedicated to this work until the end of his days.

Chen Yao, Chen Miao, Chen Yan, Chen Sen, Chen Yannian.

17th Generation

Chen Fake (1887 – 1957)

Chen Yanxi's son Chen Fake, was a legendary man, joined the virtues of uprightness and honesty (Wude) and an unusual technique. So that even today, is a renowned figure in the Chinese martial arts circles.

As a child, his health was failing, and apparently did not feel so much interest in the practice of Taiji Quan. However, he took early awareness of his responsibility as heir to the lineage of his father. In a spirit in every test, performed according to count, no fewer than 30 repetitions daily as well as 300 repetitions of the exercise of the shaft.

At an early age his fame started to emerge out of district Wen. They tell many stories about his martial skill. On one occasion, the "Lord of War" Han Fuju attracted by the reputation of Chen Fake, wanted to recruit him for his personal army, as this decline, offended against him Fuju sent one of his men armed with a spear. Chen Fake easily neutralized their attack and grabbing the gun with one hand, by disarming shook his opponent. He was then attacked by another armed with a sword as being banned from using hands it apart with their feet.

Another episode tells us that in 1928 while his nephew Chen Zhaopi, ran the family pharmacy in Beijing, there was a local band led by the Li brothers, which caused many disturbances in the area. A request of him Chen Fake came defeating the strongest, and  restoring the order in the neighborhood. Subsequently opened a school in the in the capital, where he taught until his death in 1957.

Chen Fake is with Chen  Chanxing (Dajia) and Chen Youben (Xiaojia) one of the innovators of the art, his practice evolved becoming more sophisticated. The number of the original movements and emphasizing its difficulty Qinna techniques (dislocations) the system was changed to "Xinjia" (new school) to differentiate it from the current old (Laojia) represented mainly by supporters of his nephew Chen Zhaopi.

Among the best-known students of Chen Fake differ: their children Chen Zaokui and Chen Zhaoxu , Feng Zhiqiang, Gu Liuxin, Chen Baoqi, Lei Muni,  Tian Xiuchen, Hong Junsheng, Chen Shouli, Kan Guixiang.

Chen Ziming (¿ - 1951)

Son of  Chen Fuyuan learned under the thumb of his uncle, Chen Xin

Was a founding member of numerous associations in the town of Huaiqing and Henan Province and had numerous students.

He is the author of a book published in 1932 Chenshi Shichuan Taiji Quan Shu ( "The transmission of the art of Taiji Quan Chen family from generation to generation") was likewise compiler of several ancient manuscripts which were reflected in thebook Quan Chenshi Shichuan Xie Huibian ( "Collection of boxing and weapons of the Chen clan from generation to generation").

Chen Chunyuan

Chen Chunyuan,  Chen Xin's nephew, was the architect by the historian Tang Hao and Chen Ziming the dissemination of the work of his uncle, by selling the copyright to the provincial director of the martial arts school in Henan, Guan Baiyi you paid for them the sum of 700 yuan, and this was published in 1933.

Too poor to take charge of the funeral was on the proceeds from the sale of the book that could be placed at the end of Chen Xin's tomb

Chen Dengke, Chen Guoying, Chen Songyuan, Chen Shengsan, Chen Xingyuan, Chen Liangke

18th Generation

Chen Zhaopi (1893 –1972)

Chen Zhaopi, also called Chen Jifu  learned from his father Chen Dengke the fundamentals of Taiji Quan. Also followed the teaching of Chen Xin, Chen Yanxi and his son Chen Fake. In 1914 he went to Hebei Province, namely Gansu, where he focused on trade and the teaching of Taiji Quan.

In 1921 he returned to Chenjiagou where he continued his education in Wen County.
In 1928 he went to Beijing runs the pharmacy that the Chen family owned in the capital, at the same time, he continued teaching Taiji Quan. Following the custom of the time, accepted upon arrival for a period of seventeen days, all the challenges it presented, resulting unbeaten. Two years later, at the request of the invitation of the mayor of the town, came to Nanjing, where he remained for a period of eight years as professor of the prestigious Central School of Guoshu. Zhaopi Chen was also a renowned weapons master. It was at this stage that is credited with creating the shape of a double sword school (Chenshi Taiji Shuang Jian).

During the II World War was active in guerrilla operations against the Japanese, being promoted to the rank of commander. In 1958 he returned to Chenjiagou, restoring the teaching of Taiji Quan. Under his rule was formed a new generation of teachers, responsible for the increasing popularity of Chen Style Taiji Quan today. Among others: Chen Xiaowang, Zhenglei Chen, Wang Xian, Zhu Tiancai, Chen Shitong, Chen Xiaoxin Chen Qingzou, Chen Xiaosong, Chen Chunlei.

Chen Zhaoxu (1911-1960)

Chen Zhaoxu,  Chen Fake's 2 son, was assistant to his father on his stage in Beijing. Excellent fighter, was distinguished for his skill in practice of the Lao Jia. He is best known as the father of the famous contemporary master Chen Xiaowang  guardian of the style at present.

The Prank on the "Little Ninth Uncle"

The event occurred in 1953 when Chen Zhaoxu, Chen Xiaowang's father, was in his early 40's. Although Chen Lizi was older than Chen Zhaoxu, he was of a generation younger. He would thus address the latter as "little ninth uncle." As it turned out, Chen Zhaoxu was attending a ceremony for a group of visiting Chen descendents whose forebears had left the Village a few generations ago. They had come to pay respects to their ancestral home and to re-establish their lineage. The gathering took place at the home of Chen Lizi's family, as it was one of the few houses large enough to accommodate the many guests.

Now, accomplishments in taijiquan skills are things that the Village folks talk about, just as you would talk about great sports plays. Chen Xiaowang's father's taiji skill was already well known at that time. But only a few had actually seen his skills, since he did not take any students. Chen Lizi, himself a taiji practitioner, was piqued by this mysterious reputation. As Chen Zhaoxu was greeting one of the guests, Lizi, close behind, could not resist his penchant for mischief. He furtively closed in, unceremoniously grabbed hold of Zhaoxu's right arm, locked the wrist and upper arm, and then teased, "Little ninth uncle, if someone came from behind and held you, what w-?" Before he could finish, he was thrown three meters up. As Lizi's head came crashing down, Zhaoxu extended his arm in time and caught his shoulders, saving him from injury. "Are you looking to kill yourself?" Zhaoxu chided.

The visitors were visibly shaken by the commotion. The local guests, also taken aback, were nonetheless delighted by such a treat of martial feat. The seasoned observers did not see Chen Zhaoxu betray any martial maneuver. They were amazed. The nephew was larger and of stronger build. They did not expect that such a throw could be executed in the tightness of the hold. So the feat of the hidden jin was instantly broadcast to the entire Village. It is now said in Chenjiagou, "If not for the prank that Chen Lizi played on his little ninth uncle, Chen Zhaoxu's skill might not have been revealed."

Extract of the article apeared in Taiji Magazine: "carrying the burden of taiji legacy" by C. P. Ong, Ph. D.

Chen Zhaokui (1928-1981)

Third Chen Fake's son Chen Zhaokui began the practice of Taiji Quan at the tender age of eight, already at the stage of Beijing, became one of the earliest exponents of the current Xinjia (new school) founded by his father. Great expert gives Qin Na techniques (dislocations). He was invited to the late sixties by Master Wang Xian, a pupil of his cousin Chen Zhaopi, Chenjiagou to attend and show these techniques, as well as the new school of his father. Already in the town, Chen Zhaokui  took the opportunity to train with Chen Zhaopi in management style weapons.

Chen Zhaokui also developed his teaching in Shanghai and Nanjing. Among his most popular students: Chen Xiaowang, Zhenglei Chen Zhu Tiancai, Wang Xian, Ma Hong, etc.

* Extract from the book "De los Chen a los Sun Jose Luis Serra 2009 Editorial" Alas "Barcelona, Spain