Many modern scholars of Chinese Martial Studies have been puzzled by the feudal origins of Chen Tai Chi Chuan’s- extremely slow style of movement with “sticking and adhering” qualities as world renown.Chen Taijiquan is indeed an ancient system which thrived in the era of knights and shining armor. The modern “slow qigong” Tai Chi training style seems counterintuitive to the essential speed, agility, and power required by the medieval military. The general consensus concludes 1928 Fitness Reform Chen Taiji was inspired by Medieval European Art, depicting “knights fighting Snails in the battlefield”! According to tradition, medieval knights fought snails, symbolically- because snails represented the Lombards, who had become widely despised lenders throughout Europe in the middle ages. [Note: Please do not take this post seriously, and remember… HISTORY IS FUN!]
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.