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Shaolin Red Fist (Hong Chuan)

The Liang Yi Tang Ben records that the Chen Villiage practiced 'four small sets of Red Fist'. The Red Fist boxing is a Shaolin form. Given the close proximity between the Chen Villiage and the Shaolin Temple, it is not surprising that this form of boxing would be practiced there. The Red Fist boxing is also widely practiced in Shanxi where it is several different and but related sets, Tai Zhu Quan being one of them. Stylistically, it stresses low postures, soft use of muscles, using the mind instead of strength, speedy emission of power, guarding the four directions, agility, using the Qi circularly, closing into the opponent and using sticking and leaning.

Shaolin Cannon Fist (Pao Chuan) And Cannon Pounding (Pao Chui)

Shaolin Cannon Boxing consists of 3 sets, 2 sets of Small Cannon Fist and one set of Big Cannon Pounding. All three stress offense, using strikes like the pounding of cannons. Firm stances and powerful, explosive blows characterise it. This set is still being practiced in the Shaolin Temple to this very day.

Postures in it that are similar to Chen Taijiquan include `Tornado Kick' (Xuen Fung Jiao), and `Cannons In Series' (Lien Huan Pao). The San Huang Pao Chui which is derived from the Shaolin art contains movements like `Dash Leftward' (Zhuo Chong) and `Dash Rightward' (Yu Chong) in it and would indicate that there is some relationship to the Pao Chui of the Chen family. The Chen family was famous for several generations for their Pao Chui (Cannon Pounding) boxing art and were known as the `Pao Chui Chen Family' (Pao Chui Chen Jia).

Wu Dang Transmission?

Since the art was popularised there has been a widely accepted tradition among the non-Chen lineages that there was input from the Wu Dang arts into Taijiquan. So much so that Taijiquan is considered by many noted practitioners as a Wu Dang art.

The first to record Wu Dang's Internal Boxing at length was Huang Bai Jia and later the art was transmitted to Kan Feng Chi. Fortunately, we still have a record of Kan's art with us and it is still practiced. What has come down to us is the art which he combined both the Shaolin and the Wu Dang schools into a single art and he called it Hua Chuan (Flower Fist). If there is indeed a connection between the two arts, there should be some similar postures other than similar Taoist theories.

We do find similar postures but not similar to Chen Taijiquan but to Yang Taijiquan and its derivatives. Postures like Hitting Ears With Both Fists (Shuang Feng Kuan Er) complete with smashing the face onto the knee first, Playing The Lute (Shou Hui Pi Pa) with its characteristic elbow break on retreating, Cross Hands (Shi Zi Shou) with its cross hand block, Embrace Tiger And Carry Back To Mountain (Bao Hu Kui Shan), etc., are present in Kan's form.

Other resemblance comes from the art of the other great Wudang Internal Boxing master Chang Sung Chi. His art consisted mainly of the `4 stable 8 methods', the 4 stable techniques denoting the four directions and the eight methods are which are eight different combat techniques with myrid changes. These methods have another interesting name of `Yin Yang Five Element Eight Triagram Taiji Hands'. Chang Sung Chi's boxing theories include similar theorems and practices like sinking the qi to Huang Ting (Dan Tien), hollowing the chest and lifting the spine, listening to jing, using softness to neutralise an attack.

The postures are similar to those found in Yang Taijiquan and one can see the similarity in the two man sets in terms of technique. Indeed, even in an early Ta Lu interaction is there complete with the wrist grab (T'sai), arm lock/break (Lieh) and the attack to the face following it (Bi).

This would seem to bear out the Yang lineage's assertion that at least part of the art taught to Yang by Chen Chang Xin had input from the Wu Dang lineage related to Kan Feng Chi, Chang Sung Chi and Huang Pai Jia.

It is indeed strange for Yang Lu Chan to have admitted learning from Chen Chang Xin and yet attribute at least part of the art as having come from outside the Chen villiage arts unless there was some element of the truth in it. What could be possibly gained from it unless he denied he studied from Chen Chang Xin, a member of the Chen family of the Chen Villiage. We know that the Chen family did study arts from outside their villiage, so input from the Wu Dang Internal Boxing lineage should not be so strange. And it would be in line with the song formula at the back of Chen Xin's book which attributes transmission to Jiang Fa and Wang Tsung Yueh.




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