The Chen family-style (陳家、陳氏 or 陳式 太極拳)
is the oldest and parent form of the five traditional family styles . Chen-style is characterized by Silk reeling (chan si jin; 纏絲勁), alternating fast/slow motion and bursts of power (fa jin; 發勁).
Contemporary t’ai chi ch’uan is typically practised for a number of widely varying reasons: health, external/internal martial art skills, aesthetics, meditation or as an athletic/competition sport (sometimes called “wushu tai chi”). Therefore a teacher’s system, practice and choice of training routines usually emphasizes one of these characteristics during training. The five traditional schools, precisely because they are traditional, attempt to retain the martial applicability of their teaching methods. Some argue that the Chen tradition emphasizes this martial efficacy to a greater extent.
The origin and nature of what is now known as tai chi is not historically verifiable until around the 17th century. Documents of this period indicate the Chen clan settled in Chenjiagou (Chen Village, 陳家溝), Henan province, in the 13th century and reveal the defining contribution of Chen Wangting (陈王庭; 1580–1660). It is therefore not clear how the Chen family actually came to practise their unique martial style and contradictory “histories” abound. What is known is that the other four contemporary traditional tai chi styles (Yang, Sun, Wu and Woo) trace their teachings back to Chen village in the early 1800s.
Chen Village (Chenjiagou)
According to Chen Village family history, Chen Bu (陳仆; 陈卜) was a skilled martial artist who started the martial arts tradition within Chen Village. The Chen family were originally from Shanxi, Hong Dong (山西洪洞). Chen Bu, considered to be the founder of the village, moved from Shanxi to Wen County, Henan Province (河南溫县) in 1374. The new area was originally known as Chang Yang Cun (常陽村) or Sunshine village and grew to include a large number of Chen descendants. Because of the three deep ravines (Gou) beside the village it came to be known as Chen Jia Gou (陳家溝) or Chen Family creek/brook. For generations onwards, the Chen Village was known for their martial arts