A Brief History of Tai Chi Chuan Part 2

By Grandmaster Shou-Yu Liang and Master Wen-Ching Wu

Wang Zong-Yue Theory

Wang Zong-Yue's Taijiquan Classics are well-known by Taijiquan practitioners. Wang Zong-Yue systematically summarized the principles of Taijiquan, using the Yin-Yang theory. He was the first to call this martial art, Taijiquan. He wrote, "What is Taiji? It is generated from Wuji. It is the mother of Yin and Yang. When it moves, it divides. At rest, it reunites ." He was once mistaken to be Wang Zong of the Ming Dynasty. This mistake in identity also led some to believe that Taijiquan was created by Wang Zong in the Ming Dynasty. It also made many believe that Jiang Fa, a military officer in the later part of Ming Dynasty, learned from Wang Zong-Yue. This same belief, later, led many to believe that Jiang Fa taught Taijiquan to the Chen family, when he took refuge at the Chen's Village (Chenjiagou) as a servant. This theory came from an interpretation in the book Taijiquan Brief (Taijiquan Xiaoxu), written by Li Yi-Yu (1832-1892 A.D.). In his book, Li Yi-Yu stated that the creator of Taijiquan is unknown, but Wang Zong-Yue had described the art in detail. It was believed that Jiang Fa learned from Wang Zong-Yue and then Jiang Fa taught the art to the Chens in the Chen's Village.

Chen Wang-Ting Theory

Another theory on the creation of Taijiquan is the Chen Wang-Ting* Theory. Chen Wang-Ting (?-1719 A.D.) was a military officer during the later part of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.). Some martial arts historians believe that Chen combined the Martial Classic in Thirty-Two Postures (Quanjing Sanshier Shi), ** and the Daoist Yellow Courtyard Classic (Huangtingjing) with his personal martial background; and created Taijiquan. Chen received many honors for his bravery and accomplishments during the end of the Ming Dynasty. When the Ming Dynasty was defeated and the Qing Dynasty came into power (1644-1912 A.D.), he became a hermit and spent time teaching martial arts to his relatives and "creating fists," when he wasn't farming. In the History of the Chen Family it stated next to Chen Wang-Ting's name, "Wang-Ting, also known as Zou-Ting, was a martial artist during the end of the Ming Dynasty and a scholar during the beginning of the Qing Dynasty. Well-known for his Wushu (martial arts) in Shandong Province and was the founder of Chen Family Martial Arts. He defeated over one thousand bandits. He was a born hero."

Taijiquan Developments after the Chen Family

The Chen family passed down its lineage until the fourteenth generation of Chens in the Chen Village. Then it was subdivided into Old Frame and New Frame styles. The New Frame style was created by Chen You-Ben. The Old Frame style was continued by Chen Chang-Xing. Chen Chang-Xing, aside from passing down the art to his son, Geng-Yun, and his relatives, Chen Huai-Yuan and Chen Hua-Mei; also taught Yang Lu-Chan (1799-1872 A.D.) and Li Bo-Kui. Chen Chang-Xing's lineage was called Thirteen Posture Old Frame.

Later, Yang Lu-Chan passed the art to two of his sons, Yang Ban-Hou (1837-1892 A.D.) and Yang Jian-Hou (1839-1917 A.D.). Then, Jian-Hou passed the art to his sons Shao-Hou (1862-1930 A.D.) and Cheng-Fu (1883-1936 A.D.), and to his disciples. Shao-Hou and Cheng-Fu continued to pass down the art to their sons and disciples. This became what is commonly called the Yang Style. Besides the Yang Style, Chen Qing-Ping (1795-1868 A.D.) learned Chen You-Ben's New Frame style and began the Zhaobao Style. W'u Yu-Xiang (1812-1880 A.D.) learned from Yang Lu-Chan and Chen Qing-Ping, and created W'u* Style. Li Yi-Yu (1832-1892 A.D.) learned the art from the W'u Style. He Wei-Zhen (1849-1920 A.D.) learned from Li Yi-Yu and taught it to Sun Lu-Tang (1861-1932 A.D.). Sun Lu-Tang's lineage is known as Sun Style today.

Wu Style is another very popular style of Taijiquan now practiced in China. Wu Style derived from Yang Style. Yang Ban-Hou, son of Yang Lu-Chan, taught a modified Small Frame Yang Style to Wu Quan-You (1834-1902 A.D.). Wu Quan-You taught his son, Wu Jian-Quan (1870-1942 A.D.). Wu Jian-Quan popularized the Small Frame Yang Style. Wu Jian-Quan's Taijiquan is now known as Wu Style Taijiquan. After Wu Jian-Quan died, his sons, Wu Gong-Yi and Wu Gong-Zao; and daughter, Wu Ying-Hua carried on their father's legacy and popularized Wu Style Taijiquan.

In 1956, the Simplified Taijiquan (or 24 Posture, which is the primary focus of this book), was compiled. In1976, another sequence was compiled. It was called, Forty-Eight Posture Taijiquan. Tremendous efforts were put into promoting Taijiquan. The 24 Posture Taijiquan was derived from the traditional Yang Style Taijiquan long form. It was the result of many Taijiquan masters working towards standardizing and simplifying Taijiquan, for use as a health promoting exercise. Many of the more complicated and repeated movements were deleted from the "long form" for ease of learning and practicing. The sequence starts off with very simple movements and gradually becomes more complicated. It has both left and right sides for many of the postures, in contrast to the traditional long form. Even though the 24 Posture Taijiquan sequence is a simplified version of the "long form," it is still a "traditional" sequence with the original martial applications in every movement.

* Historians have proposed that Chen Wang-Ting might be Chen Yu-Ting because the Chinese characterfor "Wang" and for "Yu" differ by only one short stroke. Also, the Chinese character for "Wang" was interchangeable with "Yu". It is plausible that "Wang" should have been "Yu". Because no conclusive evidence is available to the authors at this time, "Wang" is used instead of "Yu".

** THE MARTIAL CLASSIC IN THIRTY-TWO POSTURES is a section of the book THE NEW BOOK OFEFFECTIVE DISCIPLINES (JIXIAO XINSHU) compiled and written by Marshal Qi Ji-Guang. It is a military and martial arts book. THE MARTIAL CLASSIC IN THIRTY-Two POSTURES mentioned the well-known styles of (Wushu) martial arts during Qi's time. Some of the major styles mentioned are Shaolin, Eagle Claw and Six Step Monkey Fist. There was no mention of Taijiquan, indicating that Taijiquan was either not created yet or not a well-known style when Qi wrote his book.