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Some have raised the question of Chang San Feng's existence as there is much legendary material about him. He is recorded by reliable historical documents such as the 'Ming History' and 'The Ningpo Chronicles' which have no relation to martial arts literature as having existed and to have created Wudang Internal Boxing arts. This is in line with the beliefs held at the Wudang Temple itself and one can find much old material pertaining to Chang San Feng there. According to the available material, Chang lived at the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) and at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). There was a confusion of dates as the Emperor Yung Ler used searching for Chang as an excuse to send Yan Wang Chu in 1403 to scoure the country in search of his rival, the Emperor Jian Wen. Chang San Feng was widely regarded as a Taoist saint and Emperor Yung Ler knew that he had already died and so came up with the ruse. Historians who have tried to reconcile the misinformation of the Emperor Yung Le with the earlier records have either regarded Chang as a mid Ming Dynasty personage, possibly a different person from the Chang San Feng of recorded as living in the Yuan Dynasty or that Chang had lived for a very long time, beyond normal human life expectancy.


The Zhao Bao style of Taijiquan also traces their art back to Jiang Fa and Wang Tsung Yueh and ultimately to Chang San Feng. Gu Liu Xin, the noted Taijiquan historian, posits based on the writings of Chen Xin that Chen Ching Ping created the Zhao Bao style. Chen Ching Ping was a student of Chen You Pen who created the `new frame' (xin jia) of Chen Taijiquan which was also known as the `high frame' (gao jia) and `small frame' (xiao jia). Chen Qing Ping was also recorded to be a student of the Zhao Bao Taijiquan master Zhang Yan. Wu Yu Xiang who learnt from Chen Ching Ping retained this high standing characteristic in the style he passed down.


The present Zhao Bao style is relatively low standing and is performed in a slow manner without fa-jing (strength emissions) except in kicks, in a manner common to the Yang and Wu Yu Xiang styles and those that developed from them.


This theory can not be reliably proven, all that we can ascertain is that the art came down from Wang Tsung Yueh and Jiang Fa to the Chen village and Zhao Bao villiage. It is unlikely that Chang developed Taijiquan as we see it today though he may have invented some of the principles that went into the art. The works attributed to him in the Taijiquan Classics are actually the works of Wang Tsung Yueh. This is evident in the handwritten manuals of Li I Yu.


The Chen Pu Theory


This was the theory put out by Chen Xin, the first to write a book on the Chen style of Taijiquan. He attributed the creation of the art to Chen Pu, this was echoed later by Chen Ji Pu in his later book on the art. Chen Xin records that Chen Pu taught his descendents a way to digest food, and Chen Xin claims this to be Taijiquan. Chen Pu's grave has nothing to indicate that he was skilled in martial arts or to have created Taijiquan, a very significant piece of evidence since the Chen Family was famous for its boxing for genrations, gaining the name `Pao Chui Chen Family'. So this theory has been proven to be false.


The Chen Wang Ting Theory


This theory was first posited by Tang Hao. He based his theory on the side note in the Chen Family Manual (Chen Si Jia Pu) that Chen Wang Ting (1597-1664) was the creator of the Chen Fist, broadsword and spear arts, and on the assumption that the Chen family did not learn arts from outside the Chen family. According to the Annals Of Wen County, Chen Wang Ting served as an officer in Shantung Province from 1618 to 1621 and was officer in charge of the garrison at Wen County in 1641.


The theory was further elaborated upon by Gu Liu Xin, Tang Hao's good friend. He brought in a poem attributed to Chen Wang Ting that stated that Chen Wang Ting `created boxing when bored' and a Boxing Song Formula attributed to Chen Wang Ting as proof of the theory. Modern linguistic studies show that it should actually be translated as 'no bored (free) time to create boxing' instead.


We need to note that the references to boxing in the Chen Family are in the side notes and are not in the main text. Since the Chen family was famous for its boxing, it seems a gross ommission that such an important article of information as Chen Wang Ting creating the Chen family arts is not included in the main text but is in a side note. What more, the earliest published works by the Chen family on their art does not attribute the creation of the art to Chen Wang Ting. The last line of the Chen Family Manual says clearly that the side notes were the work of Chen Xin and so it is a recently added reference. Yet Chen Xin does not posit that Chen Wang Ting is the creator, but instead Chen Pu.


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