Chen Wangting, the founder of Chen Taijiquan- is a Military General who commanded hundreds of thousands of troops in battle, during the fall of Ming Dynasty. While Chen Wangting did indeed instruct feudal Chen Taijiquan to farmers- the farmers were elite troops… a farmer oriented-army. Modern Chen Taijiquan curriculums are influenced by the second wave of sports modifications after the mid-20th century, integrated with the western calisthenics movement in the 1920s. The popular context of Tai Chi vs MMA is very much a result of contemporary sports promotions- not ancient whatsoever.
In ancient Chinese sculptures and paintings, most of the Generals were portrayed with a thicker muscular belly- characterized as the waist of a tiger, or ancient military commander’s waist. In modern times, though rare… raw lineages maintain a distinct core muscle control which descends from the Armor dynasties. Under the ancient umbilical is the Dantian, which is regarded as a crucial muscle group for medieval Chinese Knights. A dynamic and thicker waist can provide additional protection of the spine, and auxiliary force to the core muscles. Ancient treatise favors the commander’s waist for generating short-range power and maintaining stability on foot while wearing heavy armor. Armor prevents damage from sabers and polearms, requiring more emphasis on wrestling, balance, and core control for weapons precision. Many conflicts ended with knocking the opponent to the ground and disrupting their Qi with either a blunt weapon (mace), or a short weapon- to penetrate a suit of armor at the seams, or through the visor of the helmet.
Sumo is originally a method originating in China, and the golden age of Chinese sumo wrestling is the Song Dynasty. Song era imperial guards are strong and disciplined soldiers, but they have to undergo a strict selection and training to become a royal sumo wrestler. Descending to the Ming Dynasty (Chen Tai Chi synthesis), Sumo wrestling is listed as the six royalties- an important means of military combat training. “Real” Chen Tai Chi PUSH HANDS without armor, in ancient times- is medieval Chinese Sumo wrestling. The modern “sticking and adhering/ soft” aspects of push hands sport is borrowed from feudal weapons training and philosophical integration.
According to a recent interview with Senior Beijing Wrestling and Sanda Team coaches, pushing hands is a modern sport and creation.It has minimal to do with the yin and yang theory in a historical sense. In the late 1970s, confrontational push hand sports were developed, and by 1980s- standardized. Pushing is the most popular technique in the modern Chen sport. Using one or both hands to push the other side out of the venue. In regards to factual Chen Taijiquan training in feudal times- this style of push hands is a new concept.
The “Lao Jia 74 Routine” is considered the most ancient form in the Chen Taijiquan system- revered for its empty-hand pugilism and push hands sports prowess, in modern Tai Chi culture. Many practitioners today remain skeptical that Chen Lao Jia Yi Lu is the “Sword and Shield” tactics of Ming dynasty treatise, as Taijiquan authorities do not acknowledge this as the factual context of the now perceived unarmed formwork. In the world of FEUDAL ACADEMIA, the fact is removed from fiction- historical accuracy and proper documentation is not a guessing game… The Lao Jia 74 is characterized by the “Horizontal Crab Walk”, the form practice generally ebbs and flows Sideways instead of linear. The sidestepping pattern is the foundation for armored knights in Sword and Shield melee. Linear strikes are well protected by the opponent’s shield, neutralizing the Chen Tai Chi man’s sword thrust. Therefore Lao Jia adapted “horizontal crab walking” with the Sword/Shield strategy, extremely crucial in the medieval era. [Note: there is a misconception XIN JIA YI LU 83 Routine is new, and Lao Jia 74 is old. The Chen Fake/ Zhaokui routine integrates the “unarmed boxing and spear” techniques of Ming dynasty treatise with the Lao Jia shield routine- greatly enhancing practicality for unarmed fighting and modern self-defense.]