Part 3: The Development Of Chen Taijiquan
Family Cannon Pounding Art (Pao Chui)
The Chen family assimilated all the arts they practiced and created
their own version of the predominant art which they practiced, Cannnon
Pounding (Pao Chui), derived from the original Shaolin Cannon Pounding
art. Sung Tai Zhu Chang Chuan formed a major part of this new art and
there were elements from Shaolin Red Fist in it.
What resulted is five routines of Chen family Pao Chui and one routine
of `Short Hitting' (duan da) and the song formula stated a total of a
108 postures consisting the art. There is much confusion over this
particular song formula but on closer examination the correct name
should be 'Boxing Canon Complete Formula' and is only found in the
later Liang Yi Tang Ben manual. By the time the Wen Xiu Tang Ben Chen
family martial arts manual was written it was noted that the `second
and third routines are lost'. The Wen Xiu Tang Ben makes no reference
to an art called Taijiquan or '13 postures' or 13 anything for that
matter. So it is an early reference to the state of the Chen family
arts before the advent of the Taijiquan of the Chen family that we know
The Chen family was famous for the Cannon Pounding art for several
generations and gained the beautiful name of `Cannon Pounding Chen
Family' (Pao Chui Chen Jia) in the region around the Chen village.
Simplification Of Chen Routines
Somewhere along the line the Chen Pao Chui art was simplified to just
two routines. We have no evidence to indicated who was the one
responsible for this simplification. The furthest that we can trace it
back is to Chen Chang Xin, Yang Lu Chan's teacher. But even the Chen
family geneology book does not indicate that he was responsible for
this momentous change, only indicating that he was a boxing teacher
with a nickname `Ancestral Tablet'.
We know for certain that two of the routines were already lost by that
time and so only the 3 remaining could account for the final two
routines. Whether there was an integration or that another routine was
lost through time resulting in the final two is not certain at all.
Advent Of Internal Boxing In The Chen Arts
When did the Chen arts become a form of internal boxing as opposed to
to their parental arts which were external boxing?
Most of the Taijiquan lineages regard Jiang Fa as the one providing the
input that transformed the art from the external Cannon Pounding to the
softer internal art. Some have also credited his input as the reason
why the transformed art was called Taijiquan, a name reflecting a
Taoist origin and also the classification of the art as an internal
one. The name, however, was not widely used for the art until Yang Lu
Chan popularised it in the capital city of Beijing. From the early
writings, we know that the form was originally called the '13 postures'
and by that time the name Taijiquan was already in use as evidenced by
the Taijiquan Classic of Wang Tsung Yueh and the Ten Important
Discourses Of Chen Chang Xin1.
The classification of martial arts into external and internal came
about because of the new method of combat devised by Chang San Feng, a
Taoist which resided in the Wu Dang Mountains. It stressed overcoming
external techniques using calmness and appropriate action and from
external form this martial art often looked weak in comparison with
external styles but could defeat them easily.