Learning the Chen Style of Taijiquan
Learning the Old Frame, First Form, Laojia Yilu of Chen Taijiquan
Suggestions, Comments, Notes, Research, Progress Reports, Studies, Plans
Cloud Hands Blog Chen Blog Posts Chen Style of Taijiquan Taijiquan Qigong
Silk Reeling Chen 18 Form Chen 74 Form Laojia Yilu Chen 23 Broadsword
Breathing Fundamental Principles Train the Body Not the Techniques
This webpage was last modified or updated on March 21, 2016.
1. Beginning to Learn Chen Taijiquan
2. Learning Strategies and Tactics
a) I learned the Chen Taijiquan 18 Form of Grand Master Chen Zheng Lei in 2011. I continue to practice this form every day.
b) I practice various versions of Silk Reeling exercises every day.
c) In March of 2016, I began my serious study and my daily practice of the Chen Taijiquan Old Frame, First Form, Lao Jia Yi Lu. Really getting comfortable with the practice of the entire form up to movement 40, and gaining a basic understanding of this traditional form is my main learning objective for 2016. I use many books and, most important, instructional DVDs in this order.
1. Chen Tai Chi Laojia Yilu. By Sifu Ken Gullette.
2. Chen Style Tai Chi Old Frame Routine One. By Master Jesse Tsao.
3. Traditional Chen Village, Chen Style Tai Chi, Lao Jia Yi Lou. By Shifu Jiang Jian-ye.
Chen Wangting (陳王廷; 1580–1660)
"When practicing the First Form, you should not try to control your breathing except when issuing. Simply breathe naturally through your nose. When issuing, exhale through the nose as you punch, then abruptly close off the exhalation when your waist terminates your travel. The closing is instantaneous; your breathing should continue normally immediately afterward."
- Mark Chen, Old Frame Chen Family Taijiquan, p. 90
"Breathing in Taijiquan form practice may
follow a pattern, such as to inhale with this movement or exhale with that, but
it is not rigid. A breathing regimen may be helpful to regulate breath,
but strict adherence can become a hindrance as one has to adjust readily to a
change of tempo. Breath changes according to the pace and execution of
movements. Naturally, one breathes heavily when short of breath. But
in heavy breathing, the body heaving up and down affects form and internal
balance. Heavy breathing may in natural in the circumstances, but it is
not the natural breathing of Taijiquan. The rationale of natural breathing
in Taijiquan practice is for the breath to follow the fangsong relaxation
of nurturing qi. The rule is for breathing to follow the demands of
practice, rather than for the practice to be dictated by the demands of a
breathing regimen. In throwing a punch (a fajin), breathing out is
natural with the action, sometimes accompanied with a cry of exertion, like a
kiai in karate. So, one breathes out in executing a power action and
breathes in to gather energy - xu xi fa hu (inhale in collecting energy
and exhale when discharging power. Also, generally, one inhales in rising
and exhales in lowering, and breathes in to open and breathes out to close."
- C.P. Ong, Taijiquan: Cultivating Inner Strength, p. 259
"The importance of naturalness and
spontaneity (zi ran) in breathing cannot be overemphasized. The
Chinese term zi ran literally means "own nature" ― that which occurs by
following the rules of its own character. ... A common mistake is to
put too much emphasis on trying to control the breath during movement.
Left to itself, the body will adjust the breathing to accommodate the activity
such as running or swimming, as they put in greater effort, the breath naturally
responds to the body's needs. ... When normal breathing is being employed,
the stomach expands as the practitioner inhales and contracts as he exhales.
The breathing method of Taijiquan follows certain principles, such as: inhaling
when "closing" or bringing in, and exhaling with "opening" or extending;
inhaling when storing or gathering energy, exhaling when emitting energy;
inhaling when rising up, exhaling when dropping down. However, even within
these requirements breathing may vary depending upon the circumstance."
- Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim and David Gaffney, Chen Style Taijiquan: The Source of Taiji Boxing, p.82
When practicing the First Form, "Keep the
- Chen Zhenglei, Chen's Tai Chi Old Frame One and Two, p. 111.
"The basic breathing of Tai Chi Chuan uses
the nose only, not the mouth. This differs from the common people who use the
nose to inhale and exhale through the mouth. The beginner does not have to
concentrate upon this breathing technique, but concentrate instead on the forms
for the correct movement and postures. The only requirements for beginners are
slow movements, natural breathing, and a relaxation of the entire body.
The beginner should let the breathing be natural and not emphasize the breathing
technique. The details of the intermediate method are: when practicing the
forms, one exhales when extending the arm and inhales when withdrawing the arm;
one inhales when rising and exhales when sinking; to lift is to inhale, to lower
is to exhale; when opening up, one inhales, when closing, one exhales.
When turning the body and in between movements, there should be a "little
breathing". A "little breathing" means taking short breaths quickly and
has the quality of relaxation and stoppage. Generally, breathing is used
to lead the movement. The movement must be coordinated with the breathing.
The body opens up and the chi closes. The chi opens up and the body
- Master Chen Yen Ling, Tai Chi Chuan Method Of Breathing and Chi Direction
Breathing for Taijiquan by Byron Grush
Breathing and Taijiquan, Cloud Hands Blog
Breathing in Yoga and Qigong by Mike Garofalo
The Eight Basic Methods of Chen Taijiquan by Master Cheng Jincai
Tai Chi Chuan Method Of Breathing and Chi Direction by Chen Yen Ling
3. Train the Body Not the Techniques
"Train the “body” means to train the capability of the body as a
whole. Train the “techniques” means to work on special defensive and offensive
techniques of an application. At the beginning stage, most people are interested
in understanding the applications of each move. However, such training in
focusing on explaining and understanding of the applications of Taichi defensive
and offensive techniques will not lead one to the essence of Taichi. The correct
process of learning Taichi must involve learning the forms and routines, correct
postures and moves, reduce stiffness, achieve softness so as to reach the level
when the whole body is coordinated, the internal and external are coordinated
and the internal qi is full and solid. Let the skill be part of the body. Taichi
training is for the complete ability of the body. According to specific
situations in application, Taichi principle is to lose the self to follow the
opponent and adapt when situation changes. It never resorts to the specific
application of specific techniques. When the internal qi is full and solid, the
body is like a well inflated balloon. It responds to any sensation of external
impact. It enables the Taichi practitioner to strike with the part wherever is
being attacked, such as described in On Boxing: “When achieved, one can
counterattack according to the attack without thinking. The application will
come naturally and automatically.”"
- Grand Master Chen Zhenglei, Three Training Principles of Chen's Tai Chi
4. Fundamental Principles
"The fundamental principles for Chen Style T'ai Chi Ch'uan are summarized as follows:
Keeping the head upright (虚领顶劲, xū ling ding jin)
Keeping the body straight (立身中正, lìshēn zhōngzhèng)
Drop the shoulders and sink the elbow (松肩沉肘, sōng jiān chén zhou)
The chest curve inwards and the waist pressed forward.(含胸塌腰, hán xiōng tā yāo)
Sink the energy to the dantian (心气下降, xīn qì xià jiàng)
Breathe naturally (呼吸自然, hū xī zì rán)
Relax the hips and keep the knees bent (松胯屈膝 ,sōng kuà qū xī)
The crotch is arch shaped (裆劲开圆, dāng jìn kāi yuán)
Keep the mind pure and clear (虚实分明, xū shí fēn míng)
The top and bottom work together (上下相随. shàng xià xiāng suí)
Adjust hardness and softness (刚柔相济, gāng róu xiāng jì)
Alternate fast and slow (快慢相间, (kuài màn xiāng jiàn)
The external shape is curved (外形走弧线, wài xíng zou hú xiàn)
The internal energy travels a spiral path (内劲走螺旋, nèi jìn zou luó xuán)
The body leads the hand (以身领手, yi shēn ling shou)
The waist is an axis (以腰为轴, yi yāo wèi zhóu)
- Chen Style T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Wikipedia
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This webpage was last modified
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This webpage was first published on the Internet on October 1, 2013.
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