Ancient Chen Taijiquan Boxing Treatise reveals that an alternate empty-hand boxing system is supplemented with the Lao Jia 74 Chen Village routine (sword and shield form).The Ming Dynasty boxing of Qi Jiguang has evolved a technique very close to that of modern Sanda- even more similar to Bajiquan. The irony is that most of the Tai Chi masters nowadays have never heard of this boxing, and continue to teach Chen Lao Jia Yi Lu as an empty-hand system. The historical misconceptions are considerable in modern kungfu culture.
Chen Taijiquan descended from Ming Dynasty Qi Jiguang’s “32-style boxing method”. Qi Jiguang’s “32-style boxing method” was significantly influenced by Taizu Changquan with feudal Shaolin military origins. Documentation by Chinese scholars reveal before the Republic of China era (1920’s), Chen Taijiquan is labeled as Chen Longfist/ Cannonfist- not Tai Chi Chuan. The modern interpretation of Chen Taijiquan is modified for mind-body and sports in 1928, to adapt to the already popular Yang Style Tai Chi in the capital. Real Chen Taijiquan training has unfortunately diminished with this modification for modern fitness training and qigong practice. The reality, Chen Taijiquan is feudal Shaolin and not Tai Chi. The tortoise speed practice today with over emphasis on rooting and non-dynamic footwork contradicts the very nature of feudal Shaolin Longfist used by soldiers. The fluidity of movements and transitions of feudal Chen Taijiquan is of a faster tempo (which flows the moves) with alternate power generation similar to Bajiquan.
Wu Family Bajiquan has also become synonymous with the highest level of Bajiquan in the late Qing era and has a wide influence in the martial arts community in TIANJIN and BEIJING [the Beiyang New Army connection]-Chen Yu’s great-grandfather (Chen Yanxi) was Chen Taijiquan instructor for six years with the Beiyang Commander- Yuan Shikai. BEIJING GONGFU JIA Taijiquan and Bajiquan share the same approach from the Qing and trace back to the same Qi Jiguang manual. They both contain the “unarmed” boxing methods of Qi Jiguang treatise, instead of pure sword and shield (Lao Jia 74).
Bajiquan and Beijing Gongfu Jia Taijiquan are both Feudal Shaolin strategy descending from General Qi Jiguang treatise. The systems share the fierce close-distance elbow strikes and capturing technique of Qing era bodyguards/militia. Modernization and inaccurate documentation of Chen Taijiquan historical context, has shifted the medieval systems considerably- in the application and form.
Many Chen Tai Chi practitioners today have minimal interest and knowledge of factual methods of the original system. The 1928 fitness reform in China shifted the context of Chen Taijiquan considerably, yet failed to make any distinction the modern interpretation is not historical truth. Chen Tai Chi practitioners today who do not appreciate the feudal military context of the art, are still enjoying the empty-hand methods of medieval melee combat, used by Ming-era Chinese Knights- whether or not they realize or accept it.