What is Chen Style Tai Chi?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 January 2020
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Chen style tai chi is a type of kung fu that teaches self defense through the practice of slow movements and specific poses. It also promotes health and well being by teaching students how to channel their internal life energy, known as chi. It is recognized by the Chinese government as the oldest and parent form of all types of tai chi.

This martial art is thought to have originated in the Chen village of the Henan province in China. It is believed to have been developed by Chen Wang-Ting, a former military leader who lived during the early 1600s and taught the style of moves to his sons. Chen style tai chi was then passed through multiple generations of the Chen family for over 400 years. The defensive moves gradually began to circulate outside of the province and eventually gained in popularity until it became a globally recognized fighting technique.


The style is characterized by slow, methodical kung fu movements that teach different postures of self defense. It incorporates a rhythmic breathing pattern and a focus on the meridians of the body as a way to control and direct the body's energy force. This form of exercise can physically benefit the body by strengthening the immune system, relieving joint and muscle tension, and promoting circulation. The psychological advantages experienced by practitioners of chen style tai chi are an improved overall sense of well being, a lowered amount of stress, and a new found ability to tap into an internal energy source.

This martial art may be practiced with or without the aid of weaponry. Chen style tai chi weaponry includes the saber, sword, broadsword and long pole. It may also be performed with a partner in a style known as push hands. The two participants face one another and remain with their arms in contact while they move through each pose. Push hands tai chi teaches a more aggressive form of the kung fu, designed to demonstrate the power of focusing an individual's power and energy into each movement.

Classes in chen style tai chi are available in local gyms, community centers, tai chi centers, and in video form over the Internet. Different levels and styles of this technique may be taught to suit the capabilities of the participants. Moves may be modified for rehabilitation purposes to encourage proper muscle stimulation for individuals overcoming surgery and some forms of chronic pain.


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