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PART TWO - COMPILING TAIJIQUAN

In the middle period of emperor Wanli (1573-1620; his other name was Zhu Yijun) Chenjiagou's Chen clan, counted from the first ancestor, Chen Bu, reached already ninth generation. Just at this time, a shining star on the sky of martial arts was born among nine generation descendants - it was Chen Wangting, later famous for compiling Taijiquan.

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Chen Wangting (1600-1680) was also called Qinting. His grandfather, Sigui, held a position of Dianshi (Dianshi was an official position established during Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and later kept during Ming Dynasty as continuation of old tradition; Dianshi was a low-rank official under authority of county magistrate; for many dynasties there was a position of Wei who was responsible for catching bandits, however Ming Dynasty abolished Wei and (...) Dianshi was responsible for tax collecting; since again during Qing Dynasty Dianshi was mainly responsible for county jail and police tasks, so Dianshi was often referred to as Wei) in Shaanxi Province Didao County (in today's Gansu Province). Chen Wangting's father, Fumin, held a position of Zhengshilang (well-educated person nominated to official position through imperial edict). Wangting was the second of Fumin's four sons.

Chen Wangting was very talented and diligent, and studied hard since early childhood, practicing martial arts in the mornings and studying literature in the evenings. He not only received true transmission of family boxing, stand out of the common run, but was also well acquainted in classics of various traditional schools of thought, had great learning. When he grew up he became a man well versed in both martial arts and literature, exceptionally skilful in boxing and weapons, with extraordinary consummate skill of Qinggong (Light Skill, climbing high walls and walking on roofs). In his youth he escorted merchants' caravans in Shandong Province and defeated crowds of bandits; thieves and robbers were trembling with fear on hearing of his name. Since Chen Wangting had red and solemn face, long beard, used to ride a dark horse and hold halberd, his friends from martial arts circles gave him a nickname of "Second Master Guan" (e.g. Guan Yu, a hero from a novel "The Romance of Three Kingdoms"). During the reign of Ming Dynasty emperor Chongzhen (1628-1644) Chen Wangting was promoted by county magistrate and was in charge of township garrison.

At the end of Ming Dynasty, Chen Wangting, already a Xiangsheng (military Xiucai, a person who passed imperial examination at the county level) went to the township to participate in Wuju examinations (imperial examination at the provincial level). During the examination his extraordinary archery skill, "Phoenix seizes the nest" (shooting arrows one by one into the red circle inside the target so that each next one pushes out and replaces the former one), put out other participants.

However since Chen killed a person during the examination he had to flee the examination ground and went to Dengfeng to join the leader of peasant uprising Li Jiyu and avoid misfortune.

Later Chen Wangting went back to his home village to live in seclusion. After the uprising was defeated and Li Jiyu and his family were sentenced to death, one of Li's high-ranking officers, Jiang Fa, disguised himself and went to Chenjiagou as a servant. In order to deceive the outsiders, everybody in Chenjiagou was calling Jiang Fa "Jiang Bashi" (Bashi was in older times the name for long-term and seasonal laborers). Chen and Jiang were publicly known as master and servant, but actually they were bosom friends, everyday exchanging boxing skills, ploughing and teaching children. There are many stories that have been passed up to now in Chenjiagou, like "The heroes from Yudai Mountains became friends", "Chen Wangting accepts Jiang Fa as his brother", "Master and disciple from Mumenzhai demand the cow", "Jiang Fa puts down evil spirits at Yanghaiwa".

 
 
Chen Wangting and Jiang Fa (holding the halberd)

It is worth mentioning that since Jiang Fa had certain contribution when Chen Wangting was creating Taijiquan and was Chen's good friend and disciple, later Jiang Fa's name was also recorded in Taijiquan boxing manuals. On the picture of Chen Wangting, which is still kept in Chen Family Shrine, Jiang Fa is the person who stands behind Chen and carries halberd. Chen Xinlan, 76-years old (the book was published in 1992) lady from Chenjiagou, tells the following story:

"I remember my grandfather saying, there was a place called Xiao Wu Chakou ("Crossing of Five Little Roads") on the way to South Zhangqiang at the north-west of our village, around that place there were only old graves, eight poplars grew there, the place was low-lying, so people used to call it Yanghaiwa (Sea Depression among Poplars). There was a lot of trees there and the place was overgrown with weeds, very secluded, and ghosts and goblins, demons and monsters were appearing there and harming people. No matter if that was true or not, no people dared to pass through that place at night; even if somebody had an urgent necessity, he would still prefer to take a longer way around. After Jiang Fa passed away, since he did not belong to the family and could not be buried at the old Chen clan cemetery, some people suggested that he should be buried at Xiao Wu Chakou. Since Jiang Fa was very skillful at martial arts and upright, he certainly could put down wandering souls. As a result, people from the village burried Jiang Fa at Xiao Wu Chaokou. It was really strange, but since then the whole place became peacefull and quite. When I was a child the grave was still there and there was a stone tablet erected in front of it. Grandfather told me that this was the grave of Jiang Bashi. Since I could not read at that time, I do not know what was written there. The tablet was still there in 1958, later it disappeared. When older brother Ziming was still alive (Chen Ziming, ?-1951, famous martial artist from Chenjiagou, who wrote a book "Chen Family Taijiquan Method passed Through Generations") he often pointed at the western (two) rooms of Chen Wangting's old courtyard and was telling me: "Jiang Fa passed away in these rooms". Only after these two rooms collapsed they were pulled down, about thirty years ago; this is the courtyard Chen Tang lives now. Although Jiang Fa's grave was leveled later, but I still remember its approximate position."



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