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The Shaolin Pole Techniques


The Shaolin Temple is well known for its martial arts, in particular its fistic, broadsword and pole arts. Of the weapon arts of the Shaolin School, probably the most famous is its pole arts. It was the favoured weapon of the Shaolin Monks and they seldom left the temple without it in hand.


The song formula from Chen Zhi Ming's book confirms that the pole techniques of the Chen family originated from the Shaolin Temple. The 'Sitting Arhat Pole Formula' has these lines: 'Old Temple is the Shaolin Temple, the halls had 500 monks...if you want to know where this pole came from, Sitting Arhats transmitted it at Shaolin.' Gu Liu Xin did a comparison between the Chen family pole techniques and the Shaolin Temple Pole techniques and concluded that they were indeed related, sharing the same theory, the same body, hand and foot methods. This is not surprising since the Chen Villiage is quite close to the Shaolin Temple.


The Yang Family 24 Flower Spear


The Yang family Flower Spear art was extent even in the Ming Dynasty and was recorded in General Qi Ji Kwang's `Ji Xiao Xin Shu' and consisted of 24 postures. We need to note here that this Yang family is no relation to Yang Lu Chan, the founder of the Yang style of Taijiquan who was also famous for his spear techniques. The song formula recorded by Chen Zhi Ming in his book indicates that the original set of 24 techniques were practiced by the Chen family. The '24 Spear Song Formula' has this line: 'If you ask this spear's name and family: Yang family Flower Spear 24'. The spear used in this set is a relatively long one and its main emphasis is on thrusting techniques.


Training with the Short Stick (Pang)


One of the methods of training of Chen Taijiquan is to make use of a short stick or club held in both hands and using twisting motions to train in it. A similar exercise can be found in Kan Feng Chi's training methods where the same thing is done.


We also have this method of training coming down from the training methods of Chang Sung Chi, the other great Wudang Internal Boxing master. This could indicate that at least part of the training methods used by the Chen family could have come from a Kan Feng Chi, Chang Sung Chi related lineage.


Hsing-I Quan Influence?


The `Three Three Boxing Manual' written by Chen Xin contains three out of the ten thesis of Hsing-I Boxing as well as Taijiquan theories. This would indicate that some time in the history of Chen martial arts, Hsing-I Boxing was practiced. Whether the whole art was present is questionable since only three of the thesis are present.


Wu Tu Nan's Interview With Chen Xin And His Meeting With Chen Fa Ke


Wu Tu Nan visited the Chen Villiage in 1917. There were few educated people in the villiage at the time and he was directed to meet Chen Xin, this was before Chen Xin's book was published. Chen Xin was very frank in his interview with Wu Tu Nan and gave him an account of how Taijiquan came to the Chen Villiage (see chapter 6 on Yang style historical development for details). He said that both Taijiquan and the indigenous Chen family Pao Chui was practiced in the villiage but that Taijiquan came down from Jiang Fa. He also introduced Wu to Du Yu Wan who practiced Taijiquan and who said his art came down from Jiang Fa who was of the Wudang lineage, Du's subsequent book on Taijiquan in 1935 confirms this view and the authenticity and accuracy of Wu Tu Nan's interview material.


Chen Xin had told Wu that he was writing a book on Taijiquan. Wu then asked Chen Xin whether he practiced Taijiquan. Chen Xin replied that his father had let his older brother learn martial arts but had made him get an education instead so he did not know any martial arts. Wu then asked how he was going to write a book on martial arts if he did not practice martial arts. Chen replied that Taijiquan is based on the Book of Changes and that he felt that as long as an art conformed to the Book of Changes it was Taijiquan. So he intended to use the boxing postures of Pao Chui and relate them to the Book of Changes and that his purpose of the book was to show how the Book of Changes was related even to martial arts, it was not his intention of writing a martial arts manual.


With this background information, Wu Tu Nan had asked Chen Fa Ke during a meeting around 1950 whether his art was Taijiquan, given that the definition of Taijiquan was that is was based on the 13 postures. Chen Fa Ke had replied that his art was not based on the 13 postures and so was not Taijiquan. The meeting was cordial and it was not confrontational.

 

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