Chen Style Taijiquan is widely acknowledged as the oldest and the ancestor of all the other Taijiquan (Tai Chi) styles. Although it is characterized by low powerful stances, more obvious body coiling movements, stomping, and explosive releases of power that are mostly absent from the practice of other styles of Taijiquan, Chen Style Taijiquan can also be practiced with graceful, slow, and light movements. The martial aspects and health benefits are still preserved and retained within the Chen Taijiquan system.
Generally, there are 2 barehanded form sets in Chen Taijiquan. The 1st Form is "Yi Lu" and the 2nd Form is "Er Lu", also known as "Cannon Fist" or "Pao Chui" . The speed, strength, and difficulty in each of the two forms are quite different. These variations are based on the forms' lineage.
The first form (Yi Lu) is softer. This form is used as a tool to help develop a practitioner's strength, balance, coordination, and understanding of basic Taiji principles. The strength of the form is based on the basic "Chan Si Jing" (spiral energy/force). Because of these characteristics, the first form is essential for beginners to learn. It is also beneficial for those who want to practice Taijiquan for health reasons.
The second form (Cannon Fist) is more complex. It is geared more toward the development of explosive power and fighting techniques. There are many fast, powerful, and hard movements.
Traditionally, beginners always start with the first form of Chen Taijiquan while practicing some basic exercises to get rid of body stiffness. Practicing a combination of the first form and basic exercises correctly will help the beginner develop "Chan Si Jing" (spiral energy). The second form then develops more explosive power.
In Tony's community center classes, the Chen Family Lao Jia 1st Form will be taught following the silk-reeling and qigong exercises because Traditional Chen Taijiquan Form is easier to learn and builds a strong Taiji foundation in the student.
Tony will only teach Traditional Chen Taijiquan 1st Form (Yilu) and basic pushhands in his community center and school district classes. There are no age, sex, nor health discrimination in learning this form. Students practice the form at their own pace.
The Chen-style 48 Taijiquan Form will be taught in Saturday classes and in Tony's intermediate classes where students have been learning this form. The 48 Form is a popular Chen Taijiquan Form in the United States.
The Chen-Style 48 Taijiquan Form is derived from the Xin Jia Chen Taijiquan First Form (the 83-posture Yi Lu) compiled by Feng Zhiqiang, the 18th generation master of Chen-style Taijiquan. The 48 Form contains approximately 95% of the First Form combined with a few postures from the Second Form (the 71-posture Er Lu or "Cannon Fist"). This combination gives a more yin and yang balance to the form. Within this form are influences from Feng Zhiqiang's martial arts background prior to his study of Chen Taijiquan. Because of the unique incorporation of Feng Zhiqiang's prior martial arts background with Chen Taijiquan, the 48 Form gives a new character to the Chen 83 Form in terms of application and transition.
Tony will teach, at his discretion, the Chen Taijiquan Lao Jia Er Lu (Second Form), weapon sets, training methods, and advance pushhands to the advanced students in his Saturday classes.
Qigong, which literally means "practice of vital energy", is an ancient Chinese art of meditation and physical exercise. When it is practiced correctly, it promotes health, mental well-being, martial arts skills, and spiritual development. There are many types of qigong systems. Most qigong systems incorporate breathing techniques, moving exercises, massage techniques, still postures, and mental training. Qigong is well-known in China and is now popular in the United States for its development of internal energy, promotion of healing, reduction of stress, and extension of life.
The Wuji Qigong is a standing meditation exercise to help practitioners build a strong foundation in qigong theory. Wuji Qigong is the core of taiji qigong and will assist in enhancing one's focus and improving the immune system by gathering the scattered "qi" (internal energy) back to the dantian. It also helps the practitioner to know himself/herself better by helping find his/her inner center.
Hun Yuan Qigong
The Hun Yuan Qigong exercises use the external movements to guide the internal energy flow. These exercises emphasize the mixing of the prenatal and postnatal "qi"and the cultivation of the 3 human treasures:
The Hun Yuan Qigong exercises will also help bring in the "yang" energy from the heaven above and the "yin" energy from the earth below to combine the human vital energy. The cultivation of these energies within the body can help students reduce mental stress and tension as well as improve concentration and health. The cultivation of "qi" (internal energy) can improve the health and martial abilities of the practitioner.
Silk-Reeling Exercises is translated as "Chan Si Gong" in Chinese. "Gong" in Chinese means work or skill or exercises (drills). Silk-Reeling Exercises (SRE) in Taiji is a set of repetitive spiral movement exercises with emphasis on the ground connection, waist connection, knee alignment, kua sinking, opening and closing of joints, and dantian rotation. These continuous spiral movements are the basic components and foundation of Taijiquan. This series of spiral movement exercises are for the development of the basic strengths and coordination of Chen Taijiquan. These exercises will increase the mobility of body joints and relax the muscles and tendons of the practitioner. The spiral movements will open up and exercise the 18 major joints (in sequence from the head to the ankles) of the body, promote muscle relaxation and flexibility, and reduce physical tension and strain.
Many people misunderstand the nature of SRE. They believe SRE are only a set of stretching exercises to stretch the bones, muscles, and tendons of the practitioner. Silk-reeling exercises can be considered as stretching exercises which use the Taiji principles to physically and mentally relax our bodies.
SRE must be taught by a qualified instructor, who knows the theory of these exercises so the essential quality of these exercises can be obtained. These exercises must be practiced correctly to prevent body injury.