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The Question Of The 13 Postures


The form was also known as the 13 postures since all the techniques within derived from the basic 13. This has always been standard in the Taijiquan Classics that have come down from the Wu Yu Xiang and Yang Lu Chan.


The Wen Xiu Tang Ben does not state the existance of the new form. The Liang Yi Tang Ben, a later manual does record it but calls it the 13 sections instead. Chen Xin's book recorded the Xin Jia of the Chen Style of Taijiquan. The material he records is quite different from that which was gleaned from him from Wu Tu Nan.


We need to first recognise that Chen Xin's book was published posthumously. He had 3 other collaborators who published the book after his death. How much of the book is attributable to him is a matter of uncertainty. The fact that the book was only published four years after his death would indicate that considerable editing could have taken place by his 3 collaborators.


The Yang related styles of Taijiquan all agree on the classication of the basis of the art which is the 13 postures. The postures of Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Tsai, Lieh, Chou, Kao, Gu, Pan, Jin, Tui and Ding. These are the postures delinated and referred to in the accepted Classic writings. In Liang Yi Tang Ben, the form is called not only the 13 postures but also 13 sections, a rather different classication which is carried on into Chen Xin's book where the entire form is taught as consisting of 13 sections, each section having sub-postures. This other classication is ignored by Tang Hao and Gu Liu Xin in their writings.


The 13 postures actually consists of 8 basic postures and 5 movements. The 8 basic postures differ slightly in the early Chen style publications. The Liang Yi Tang Ben records the first four as Peng, Ji, Lou, Na and Chen Xin's book records them as Peng, Lu, Ji, Na. Chen Tze Ming's book has the same song formula as in Chen Xin's book but here the first four are recorded as Peng, Shu, Ji, Na. The full 8 postures are named in Chen Tze Ming's book as Peng, Shu, Ji, Na, Tsai, Lieh, Chou, Kao. It must be noted that the earlier manual, the Wen Xiu Tang Ben did not contain any boxing theory. It was only in the later Liang Yi Tang Ben that Taijiquan was first mentioned in the Chen family documents and that boxing theory was recorded.


Chen Taijiquan Today


The Lao Jia or Old Frame of Chen style Taijiquan was first promoted by Chen Fa Ke in the early half of this century. The Xin Jia or New Frame, Zhao Bao style and the Hu Lei style all retain close resemblance to each other in terms of how the postures are done. The Yang style, however, varies quite greatly from the other Chen related Taijiquan styles. Given that this was the style first taught by Yang Lu Chan when he returned from the Chen villiage, it would indicated that what he was taught may have differed from the standard Chen syllabus.


However, due to the ecumenical efforts of the current generation of masters, six major styles of Taijiquan are now officially recognised. They are the Chen, Yang, Wu Yu Xiang, Wu Chien Chuan, Sun and Zhao Bao styles. The Hu Lei style is also growing in popularity and may in time be considered a major style.


The 5 greatest promoters of the art today are Feng Zhi Chiang, Wang Xi An, Chen Zhen Lei and Chen Xiao Wang. Their efforts have spread the practice of Chen Taijiquan throughout the world and continue to serve as inspirations for those who practice it.


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