Chen Wanting also called Chen Zouting, was a career military man, a native of Chenjiagou, developed his work at the end of the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644), especially in Shandong province where he vigorously repressed banditry and rebellions due to his martial skills and strategies. In 1641 he obtained the post of commander of the Wen (Wenxian) county militia. Chen Wang Ting, lived during the turbulent years of the Manchu invasion of China in the 17th century. During that period, as a patriot that he was, he served as an officer in the Imperial Ming Army for three years, until the final defeat in 1644 and the establishment of the Ching dynasty. At the end of the war, Chen Wang Ting returned to Chenjiagou, the village where he was born, and with his vast martial knowledge, he dedicated himself to systematizing a new style of fighting in which more emphasis was placed on softness and absorption.
Chen Wanting, is often represented with his lieutenant Jiang Fa, to whom some authors attribute the genesis of Taiji Quan. In 1644, after the fall of the Ming), Chen Wanting devoted his last days to developing, practicing, and teaching the genesis of Taiji Quan. According to the book “Annals of the Chen Family” (Chenshi Jia Pu), he was apparently the first to introduce the practice of boxing within the family, as well as the handling of the spear, saber and halberd (dadao) With the advent of the dynasty, Qing (1644 -1911) of Manchu origin, already elderly and retired in Chenjiagou, the village of his ancestors Chen Wanting, devoted his free time to the practice and teaching of martial arts. He is credited with a short treatise called Quan Jing Zong Ge or “General chant of boxing practice” from which we reproduce a short paragraph:
“In the past I could carry my weapons and heavy loads, in order to quell rebellions, I have faced dangers, known failures and despite everything the Emperor has granted me his grace. In the present I feel old and tired. My last companion is the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Book *. In times of sadness, I exercise in boxing. During my work period, in my spare time I teach some disciples the art of turning into tigers and dragons and acting properly. “
According to the history of the Chen family, it is said that Chen Wang Ting was famous for his Wu Shu throughout the province, and that he himself defeated more than a thousand bandits … “He was a hero by nature.”
In the following years, the invasions of foreign powers and peasant uprisings were a stimulus for the dissemination of martial arts among the people, which resulted in the formation of a new style of boxing. While the old style gave more importance to fast movements and strong and vigorous punches, the new one followed the principles of subduing vigorous movements with soft ones and adapting one’s own style to that of others and knocking down a weight of 500 kilos with a force four ounces. Generally speaking, some movements were energetic while others were smooth, some fast and some slow, and one movement was followed by another with a harmonious and uninterrupted rhythm, like a spring of water. In its beginnings this style of taiji received the name of “boxing of the thirteen forms” because it was composed of eight basic postures of the hands and five main variables. And since these series were often very long, it was also called Changquan(long boxing).
Be that as it may, the taijiquan of the Chen family assimilated the essence of other traditional fighting styles of the time, incorporating the traditional philosophical and health cultivation theories (daoyin) such as the circulation of qi (internal energy), the theory of taiji, of yin and yang or of the five elements. In this regard, one of Chen Wangting’s poems refers to Huang Ting Jing as his “constant companion.” The Huang Ting Jing (黃庭 經, 黄庭 经, Huángtíng jīng, Classic of the Yellow Court) is aTaoistclassic book on the use of breathing exercises to maintain and improve health.