Chen Forms

The Chen taiji forms have been handed down through centuries by the Chen family. Laojia, or old frame, is said to have been practiced since the time of Chen Changxing, the 14th generation master who taught in the first half of the 19th century. Yang Luchan was his student.

Laojia consists of two routines, the first (Yilu) being longer and consisting of large, slow movements with occasional outbursts of intense energy (fajin). Laojia Yilu runs about 20 minutes. Here’s a video by Chen Xiaowang, grandson of Chen Fake.

Chen Xiaowang Laojia Yilu

Chen Xiaowang demonstrates Laojia Yilu

Laojia Erlu, also known as Pao Chui, or Cannon Fist is a little more than four minutes long and contains substantially more fajin.

Chen Xiaowang demonstrates Laojia Erlu

Chen Xiaowang demonstrates Laojia Erlu

The New Frame Chen routines, called Xinjia, are attributed to Chen Fake and were largely promulgated by his son, Chen Zhaokui. The new forms are Xinjia Yilu and Erlu. This is Xinjia Yilu–less than five minutes, but it’s just part one:

Chen Xiaoxing at Chenjiagou Temple 2006

Chen Xiaoxing at Chenjiagou Temple 2006

Chen Xiaowang demonstrates both parts one and two:

That’s just one option; many videos are available on YouTube for all of these forms. Here is Xinjia Erlu, also called Cannon Fist (less than four minutes):

Chen Xiaowang demonstrates Xinjia Erlu

Chen Xiaowang demonstrates Xinjia Erlu

At Master Gohring’s Tai Chi & Kung Fu, we study traditional Yang-style forms (primarily the Yang 108) for about three years before we learn Chen style, starting with the Chen 38 taught by Grand Master Cheng Jincai. Last month I tested for second degree black sash, passed and graduated, so I’ll be moving on to the better-known traditional Chen forms above, starting with Laojia Erlu.

The Chen forms and style are characterized by the silk-reeling movement called chan si jin and explosions of power (fajin). For the patient and devoted student, Chen Xiaowang explains silk-reeling in Chinese with subtitles in the following 45-minute video, which I have not yet watched. But I will.

Chen Xiaowang explains silk-reeling

Chen Xiaowang explains silk-reeling (subtitles)

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