CLUB GENEALOGY


The Club belongs to Chen Village's Old Frame tradition as represented in the mainstream "Zhaokui Line." This Line also encorporates the "New Frame" routine as taught by Chen Fake in his later years.

In the world of Chen style TaiChi (to say nothing of other Taichi styles) there are many "flavours" and traditions. The following chart gives an abbreviated summary of the situation and there is a brief commentary below.

Summary Chart identifies:
(1) Origin of 5 main Tai Chi Styles.
(2) Origin of the 2 lesser-known sub-styles of Chen Style.
(3) Origin of the 3 traditional learning Patterns/Frames.
(4) Our Club's Chen Style "Zhaokui Line" tradition.

Origin of the 5 Tai Chi Styles:
In the beginning Chen Family style of Taichi was held secret. Therefore it was relatively homogenious - though it actually appears to have evolved considerably over time. The Chen family soaked up anything that was useful in promoting their prowess in defending the village or working as bodyguards for merchants and caravans.

Before Yang Luchan came on the scene two Traditions had recently developed within the Village: Large Frame and Small Frame. These signify different practice methods for learning what is basically still the same Chen style skills.

The first big split-off came when an "outsider" learnt the style, adapted it and spread it throughout China. This was Yang Luchan and his variation was so different as to become a new style altogether - it was called "Yang Style." The other three types of TaiChi we know today (Sun, Wu and Woo styles) again split off from Yang style.

Chen Style Variants:
Around the time of Chen Youben, and Chen Chang Xin, two subvariants of Chen style sprang up in villages close to Chen Village: Zhaobao and Hu-Lei (Thunder) Styles. These are still considered Chen style even though they are not mainstream and are not practised by the Chen family. Their genealogy is not recorded on the above chart.

Chen Training Form Traditions:
Chen Village training has for many years been divided into two closely related traditons: Big Frame and Small Frame. Big Frame tradition is by far the most widely practiced while Small Frame is still somewhat "secret" - it is very difficult to do and probably worth teaching only to the highly experienced and talented.

Big Frame:
The Big Frame tradition is what most people would understand when talking about classical Chen style TaiChi. The quintessential big Frame training form (for beginners and masters alike) has always been the Old Frame patterns (of which there are two).

The legendary Chen Fake (who taught in Beijing from the 1930s) in his later life transformed Old Frame into an additional set of patterns which became very popular in Beijing and are now known as New Frame (or Small Frame if you live in Beijing). This got "exported" back to Chen Village as well.

Old Frame:
Even with those trained by the old Masters in the classical Old Frame there are regional sub-variants. The mainstream is probably that deriving from Chen Fake's son (Chen Zhaokui) and his nephew (Chen Zhaopei). These two almost singlehandledly taught Chen Village's 19th generation crop of new teachers - including the famous "Four Tigers" who have been vigorously promoting this tradition around the world from the 1980s.

With the increasing international popularity of individual Chen Masters who emigrate overseas (as opposed to the Chen Village as a cohesive group) fragmentation is beginning to occur within the Old Frame tradition. Only time will tell if Chen Village international connections and influence is strong enough to hold that delicate balance between preservation and evolution.

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