Traditional Chen Style Taijiquan

Training Methods


Training in Taijiquan (Taiji / Tai Chi Chuan) varies from teacher to teacher, but basic training usually follows close guidelines.

QIGONG: A form of exercises to strengthen the body internally and externally, and to enhance the Yi (mind-intent) and the flow of Chi (vital energy). Types are:
1. Sitting: Mainly, the most internal exercise, focusing on mind and Chi, and understanding the flow of the Meridians.
2. Zhang Zhuang (Standing Post): The most important exercise in Taijiquan and Qigong. Its use is to strengthen the dan tian and align the body with the flow of gravity. Helps reduce stress mentally and physically. Other benefits are proportional strengthening in the legs and arms. A strong foundation in proper training of post stance exercises is the building block from which all Taiji skill is based.

3. Chan Si Gong (silk reeling movement routine): A method of body mechanics based on postural alignment and abdominally generated action, which results in whole body movement. The action helps build further developments in the style from the standing exercises. From the central equilibrium that is developed, it helps spring the Chi to develop jing, and opens the major joints of the body by the controlled spiraling of the limbs.


TAOLU (Forms)
1. Lao Jia (old frame): Is the oldest of the Taijiquan forms, which was the basis of Yang form, and was created by Chen, Changxin. It is considered the foundation form for all Chen Taijiquan.

A. Yi Lu (1st Routine): Is an unarmed form consisting of 75 postures. The movements are more Yin than yang, meaning fa-jing is secondary. The form helps establish the connection from the dan tian to the limbs and prepares the martial aspects as well. Most important is the internal mechanics gained from correctly doing the routines (and not combative application work), for this is what establishes the martial ability.

B. Er Lu (2nd Routine): Also known as Pao Chui (cannon fist), this form consists of 43 postures. The form is 75% "hard," meaning fa-jing is the primary and chan si development is secondary. This form builds on Yi Lu and offers a more martial approach, involving more footwork, sudden direction changes, dodging tactics, double low sweeps, etc. Physiologically, it helps build the Yi (mind-intent) to respond to possible multiple opponent scenarios. It also trains the breath due to its high speed execution.

2. Xin Jia (new frame): Was created by 17th Generation Master Chen, Fake. Based on the Lao Jia forms, he added more movements to the postures, emphasizing chan si jing, fa-jing, and tighter actions.
It was made to make the martial qualities of Chen style more apparent.  

  1. a.Yi Lu: 83 postures

  2. b.Er Lu: 71 postures

3. The 19-form was created by Grandmaster Chen, Xiao Wang, and compiled of the Lao Jia, Xin Jia, and Xiao (small frame) forms. It can be seen as a distillation of the previously described forms to help offer a foundation for beginners to start from. It is an ideal form for qigong.  

4. The 38-posture form was created by 19th Generation Master Chen, Xiao Wang. It is compiled from both the Lao Jia and Xin Jia forms. The main forms were simplified and difficult movements modified to make the style more accessible.


WEAPONS: Training in weapons helps accent the energies developed in unarmed forms and further refine them down by learning to express fa-jing into the weapon. Here are just some of the weapons in the style:
1. Jian (Straight sword): Helps develop the wrist and chan si jing.
2. Dao (Broadsword): Helps build the footwork and fa-jing.
3. Qiang (Spear): Develops the back and root. Also builds the Yi (mind-intent) by the focus required to express fa-jing to the spear tip.
4. Kwan Dao (Spring/Autumn broadsword): Helps bring together the other forms and develop the whole body power.
5. Er Dao (Double Broadswords): The use of two hands at the same time and more Yi control.

BA FA (8 Skills/Energies): The basis of martial applications lies in the correct understanding of these "skills." When compiled with the 5 phases, they constitute the foundation of all attack and defense in Chen Taijiquan. Remember that they are not static postures or movements but an internal energetic response to an attack. 

They are as follow:
1. Peng (ward off): to intercept and control an opponent’s advance upward.
2. Lu (rollback): to deflect opponent down and back.
3. Ji (press/follow): apply force forward.
4. An (push): push weight into opponent (downward).
5. Cai (pluck): grasping and twisting opponents’ limbs with force.
6. Lieh (split): applying force in two directions.

7. Zhou: elbow-striking

8. Kao: striking with shoulder, hip, or knees.

FA-JING (Explosive Energy/Force): This is more of a descriptive term than a technique. With a strong stance and chan si jing (silk reeling energy), fa-jing becomes possible. It is a sudden release of the body’s energy coupled with a bursting push with the feet, which passes through the body to the point of execution. Maintaining proper gravitational alignment is crucial to get full expression of force. Basically, any technique can have fa-jing from the obvious punches and kicks to the not  so obvious qin-na (joint locks), throws and the Ba Fa-eight energies.


PUSH HANDS: Are a number of two person routines used to develop root, sensitivity, distance, timing, and refinement of the 8 energies. These routines help the practitioner to heighten their tactile sensitivity, enabling them to intercept and control their opponents’ balance and intent. In Chen Taijiquan, there are 5 levels of push hands, including:

1. Huang hua: stationary, both single and double handed exercises

2. Ding bu: stationary, two handed

3. Hua bu: single step, two handed

4. Da lu: moving, two handed with double pull in low stance

5. Huangjiao bu: free form, two handed


Combat Application Training:  From the beginning students start combat training. Consisting of footwork drills, combat line drills, sensitivity training and form applications. Also, body conditioning drills and auxiliary power training methods are taught.


SAN SHOU (Free Sparring): After the above are understood, the last level of training is sparring to further refine proper responses in an intense situation.