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(Chen) Qingping passed (Taijiquan) to He Zhaoyuan, Zhang Kai, Zhang Gaoshan of Zhaobao town. (Chen) Youlun passed (Taijiquan) to Li Jingyan, Zhang Dahong".

From the above record it can be seen that both Chen Gongzhao and his son, Chen Youben, were martial artists of great attainments and had many famous disciples; Chen Youben evidently received true transmission of Taijiquan from his father. Moreover Small Frame already existed before Chen Youben.

Chen Zhongshen (1809-1891) became famous fighting against Taiping rebels in 19th century

Small Frame combines hardness with softness, there is more softness and less hardness in the First Set (Yi Lu), more hardness and less softness in the Second Set (Er Lu). Furthermore since Small Frame has a very complete theoretical system and strict, step-by-step method of practice, people in Chenjiagou praise it as "Gongfu Frame" (Gongfu Jia) or "Special Frame" (Kan Jia Quan; Kan Jia literally means "look after the house"). It is not that - as some books say - "Chen Youben, 14th generation descendant of Chen clan, made some changes to the original routines, gradually abandoning some more difficult and vigorous movements, and created New Frame (Xin Jia), also called Small Frame, as extended as Old Frame (Lao Jia)"[6].
Since Chen Changxing was escorting caravans away from home all the year round, Chen Gengyun (Chen Changxing's son and 15th generation descendant of Chen clan), in order to work together with the father, asked Chen Youben, his uncle, to teach him. In order to help Chen Gengyun achieve skill in the shortest possible time, Chen Youben, while preserving the quintessence of the First Set (in) Thirteen Postures (Tou Tao Shi San Shi), put emphasis on "Power Explosions" (Bao Fa Li), enlarged the movements, and coached Chen Gengyun for over a year. Chen Youben and Chen Gengyun through discussions and thorough studies created a certain type of frame;
since then, in order to differ it from First Set (in) Thirteen Postures (Tou Tao Shi San Shi), people began to call them "Small Circles" and "Large Circles". Chen Gengyun passed this frame to his family members; it was also taught to Chen Fake - his grandson - who in 1928 was invited to Beijing to teach martial arts, and made this frame known to the public. Later generations began to refer to this frame as "Large Frame" (Da Jia), while to traditional system as "Small Frame" (Xiao Jia).


Why "Illustrated Explanation" [7] describes 64 postures, and not 74? This is because Chen Xin while writing "Illustrated Explanation" "avoided the trivial and dwelled on the important", chose only essential postures and described them, so not the complete routine is recorded in the book. For example Preparing Form (Yu Bei Shi), Closing Form (Shou Shi) and some linking or transitional movements were not recorded. Although some of them were explained, but were not listed as separate postures ("Book Of Changes" - Yi Jing - includes 64 hexagrams, so it is possible that the number of postures in Chen Xin's book was influenced by the number of hexagrams in Yi Jing).

Why is the book so obscure and hard to understand? This is because "Illustrated Explanation" is not a textbook for beginners. It provides guidance to those practitioners who already reached certain level of skill and of understanding the theory and are looking for higher attainment. Moreover taking into consideration the specific ways classical compositions are written, lack of periods and commas, using local dialect and slang in some passages, it all makes the text very difficult to fully understand by a beginner or a person without at least basic understanding of classical Chinese. Furthermore since the meaning of some characters in "Illustrated Explanation" differs from that of modern Chinese, in the process of learning one should combine experience coming from practice to understand the essence of the book.

Some crucial parts are simply omitted. For example in some places the book only describes the goal of practice, but does not explain the method and process how to achieve this goal. Perhaps because of conservative thinking at Chen Xin's time, influence of the traditional idea of "giving you the medicine, but not telling you how it is made"; maybe because of limitation of words in conveying his ideas, some things that can be passed only through direct teaching could not be explained in the book.

"Illustrated Explanation to Chen Family Taijiquan" (published in 1931) has at its end Du Yuanhua's "Du Yuwan Account of Rhymed Formula Received by Jiang Fa from his Teacher of Shanxi"; this "Rhymed Formula" (Ge Jue) became an important argument for the standpoint that "Wang Zongyue taught Jiang Fa, Jiang Fa taught Chen Changxing or Chen Qingping", and drawing the inference that Chen Xin actually admitted that Chen style Taijiquan was transmitted by Jiang Fa. However no matter whether this "Rhymed Formula" is real or fake and how the phrases are incoherent, it is enough to check that there is a phrase "Revised and Emended by Du Yuanhua (Yuwan) from Qinyang" in the the appendix (i.e. "The List of Editors who Revised and Emended 'Illustrated Explanation to Chen Family Taijiquan'") at the end of the book. From this it can be known that the "Rhymed Formula" was added by Du Yuanhua many years after Chen Xin's death. This act of Du - who used somebody else's work to advocate own ideas - should not be adopted and indeed has been very misleading. Jiang Fa and Chen Changxing were living in the same epoch - 17th century; Wang Zongyue (his biography can be found in the introduction to Wang Zongyue's "Yin Fu Spear Manual" written by unknown author ) and Chen Gongzhao were living in the same epoch as well - 18th century; Jiang Fa was living about one hundred years before Wang Zongyue, hence so-called "Wang Zongyue taught Jiang Fa" is obviously a mistake, "Jiang Fa taught Chen Changxing or Chen Qingping" is even more without foundation in facts.

Note from the author (Jian Ge):

This article was written under warmhearted guidance from Ms. Chen Peiju.

Chen Peiju is the 20th generation of Chen clan and 12th generation inheritor of Chen style Taijiquan. Since childhood she has been learning the family art of Chen style Taijiquan from Chen Lixian (her father), and Chen Liqing (her aunt). She graduated from Wushu Department of Beijing Physical Education Institute, and now workd in Wushu Administration Center of Henan Province. She is the first Taijiquan practitioner in Chen clan who received higher education in the field of martial arts. Chen Peiju was three years in a row a champion in Chen style Taijiquan category during All-China Taijiquan and Taiji Sword competitions.




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