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woman doing taijiquan

Chenjiagou-Birthplace of Taijiquan

Chenjiagou, a village in Wenxian County, Henan Province, is well-known not only for its wushu masters but also for being the birthplace of Taijiquan.

Chen Wangting, a Ming Dynasty general and a ninth-generation descendant of the Chen family of boxers, returned to his home in Chenjiagou after he retired. Drawing on the principles of traditional medicine, dialectics of ancient Chinese philosophy, and other disciplines in boxing, he created a system of movements that became the earliest form of taijiquanin the Chen school. taijiquanbranched into other forms after Chen Changxing, a fourteenth generation descendant of the Chen family, taught it to Yang Luchan. As a result, the Yang Luchan, Wu Jianquan, Wu Yuxiang, and Sun Lutang schools began to appear.

According to some wushu masters of Chenjiagou, the Chen school is characterized by firmness in its gentleness, its combination of speed and slowness, and the continuity of its movements. Besides these principles, which have also been adopted by other schools, the Chen school also has its own special features like jumping, leaping, stamping, and the use of weapons such as the sword, double-sword, broadsword, double broadsword, and mace.

Taijiquanis very popular in Chenjiagou, where half of the two thousand villagers practice boxing. Those who are unable to box are fans of taijiquanand are fond of commenting on the performances. The village has a taijiquansports school which accepts students from both the local area and beyond. Even the village’s primary and middle school students practice taijiquanboth at school—especially in their physical culture classes—and at home.

In addition, the village has produced many famous boxers. At present, Chen Xiaowang, Zhu Tiancai, Wang Xi'an, and Chen Zhenlai are known as the four eminent taiji masters of Chenjiagou. The thirty-six-year old Chen Xiaowang learned his skills from his father Chen Zhaoxu, one of the best boxers in the village. But it was only at the Chenjiagou Sports School that he received his first systematic training. He has since won three awards at national wushu performance contests; now he is a coach in the provincial wushu centre in Zhengzhou. The other three taiji masters are also boxing coaches, both working in the village and in other locales. The villagers expect these four masters to surpass their ancestors in taiji and make new contributions to further its development.

Looking back at the history of taijiquan’s development in the village of Chenjiagou, one could draw the conclusion that whenever China was prosperous and its society stable, taijiquandeveloped vigorously and taiji masters were produced. Today, with great support from both the Chinese government and the members of Chinese society, the taijiquanart of the Chen school is certain to reach even higher summits.

Revised June 13, 2011