1.3 Chen Xin, author of “Chen Family Taijiquan”.

CHEN XIN Biography

Based on “Chen Family Taijiquan – Past and Present” and “Research on Taijiquan” (by Tang Hao and Gu Liuxin); translated from Chinese and edited by Jarek Szymanski.

Chen Xin (1849-1929), also called Pinsan, of the sixteenth generation of the Chen clan, was born in Henan Province, Wen County in Chenjiagou Village. Chen Xin was a grandson of the famous Taijiquan master, Chen Youheng; Chen Xin’s great-uncle, Chen Youben, not only developed boxing prowess, but based on the original routines created a new Taijiquan structure (known as Small Structure, Xiaojia). Chen Xin’s father, Zhongshen, and his uncle, Jishen, twin brothers, were both very skilled in Taijiquan. They first learned from their father, Chen Youheng, but after he drowned in Dongting Lake, they studied with their uncle, Chen Youben.

Chen Zhongshen was extraordinary – tall and strong – and he studied martial arts since he was three years old. He passed the military exam together with his brother and became Wusiang (in the Xiucai Army).

During the reign of the Xianfeng (1851-1861) and Tongzhi (1862-1874) Emperors there were three famous exponents of Taijiquan in Chenjiagou: Chen Zhongshen, his brother Chen Jishen, and Chen Changxing’s son Chen Gengyun. Among them, Chen Zhongshen was especially famous for using an iron spear weighing about 14 kilos on battlefields and for its bravery.

Chen Xin and his older brother Chen Yao both studied boxing with their father, Chen Zhongshen. At the age of 19, Chen Yao passed the county-level army exam and became Wuxiang; he boxed ten thousand times a year and in twenty years his skill became magnificent. He was short and thin and people did not believe that he mastered martial arts. Chen Yao often competed with guards from the local county magistrate (Yamen) and could throw six or seven to the ground at the same time.

Chen Xin also learned martial arts from early childhood and understood its principles and methods, but since his father ordered him to study literature, his skill could not match that of his brother. When Chen Xin was older, he realized how little he had accomplished in his literary studies and how accomplished his brother was as a Taijiquan teacher. Chen Xin regretted not having focused on martial arts practice and made a firm decision to write books and expound on the Chen Family’s Taijiquan principles and methods.

Chen Xin’s most famous boxing book is “Chen Family Taijiquan Illustrated Explanations” (Chen Shi Taijiquan Tushuo). Chen Xin wrote it for 12 years, from the 34th year of the reign of Emperor Guagxu (1908) to the eighth year of the Republic. He assembled four volumes containing 200,000 to 300,000 characters. Based on the profound principles of the Yijing (Book of Changes), the books exposed changes between Yin and Yang; the meridian theory was confirmed using physiological points and veins; The applications of all postures were explained, indicating the key points for beginners. The results of many generations of Taijiquan masters from the Chen clan were put in writing without keeping anything secret. The silk roll and neijin(internal force) are the basic ideas of the book. Chen Xin wrote many books that were never published, “Chen Family Taijiquan Illustrated Explanations” was the fruit of many years of painstaking work and the most systematic and comprehensive summary of the Chen Style of Taijiquan.

Chen Xin had no children and when he lay in bed old and sick, he called his nephew Chen Chunyuan and gave him “Illustrated Explanations of Chen Family Taijiquan” saying: “This is the fruit of my whole life, publish it and give it to him! those who deserve it, otherwise burn it, make sure not to give it to ignorant and presumptuous people! “

Due to poverty, when Chen Xin passed away, the coffin with his corpse was kept for many years in his home and was not buried. Chen Chunyuan wanted to raise funds for the funeral, so he asked his friends Du Youmei and Liu Yingxian for help in publishing Chen Xin’s book. As a result, Chen Panling (Chairman of the Henan Province Martial Arts Academy), Han Zibu (Chairman of the Henan Archives Department), Wang Zemin and Bai Yusheng of Kaiming Publishing House, Guan Baiyi (Director of the Henan Provincial Museum ) and Zhang Jiamou raised 200 yuan for Chen Xin’s funeral. Later they raised 800 yuan and in 1933 a thousand copies of the book were published.

In the winter of 1930, Tang Hao, a martial arts historian and researcher, went to Chenjiagou with Chen Ziming to collect material on the history of Taijiquan and appreciated Chen Xin’s manuscript.

“The Chen Xin Chen Family Taijiquan Illustrated Explanations (also called“ Chen Pinsan Taijiquan Basics – Chen Pinsan Taijiaquan Jiangyi) was originally written in 4 volumes with very clear explanations and was not divided into chapters. During its publication, neither characters nor phrases were changed, and the annotations were put aside to keep the original text intact.

There were many generations of Taijiquan practitioners in the Chen Family since Chen Wangting. Many of them became experts in martial art but very few books were written on Taijiquan. Seven generations had passed, and starting with Chen Xin, the importance of written documents began to be given. In 1935 Chen Zhaopei, eighteenth descendant of the Chen clan, in his “Chen Family Taijiquan Compilation” (Chen Shi Taijiquan Huizong) used many parts of Chen Xin’s book. Other Chen Xin books are: “Beginner’s Guide to Taijiquan” (Taijiquan Yinmeng Rulu) (short version of “Chen Family Taijiquan Illustrated Explanations”) in one volume, “Three-Three-Six Boxing Manual” (San San Liu Quanpu), as well as “Genealogy of the Chen Family” (Chen Shi Jiacheng) in five volumes, “Compilation of Poems and Literary Works of the Study of the Quiet Fool” (Anyuxuan Shiwenji; Anyu, Quiet Fool, was Chen Xin’s literary nickname) and another.

The CHEN style was popularized since the beginning of the 20th century thanks to the master Chen Fu-Sheng (Chen Fake) (陳 發 科, 陈 发 科, 1887-1957), who moved to Beijing and founded an academy of martial arts. Chen Fake was a legendary man, in which the virtues of rectitude and honesty (Wude) were united as well as an unusual technique. In such a way that even today, he is a renowned character in Chinese martial circles. As a child, his health was poor, and he did not seem to have much interest in the practice of Taiji Quan. However, he soon became aware of his responsibility as heir to his father’s line. With a foolproof spirit, he performed, according to his students, no less than 30 daily repetitions of the form, as well as 300 repetitions of the pole exercise. At an early age his fame began to transcend outside of Wen District. Numerous anecdotes are told about his martial prowess.

When Master Chen Fa-ke taught Taijiquan, he often said that there were three phases: The first phase is the correct learning of the basic movements according to the rules; the second is to become very competent by practicing the routine or series of movements according to the rules; The third begins with becoming familiar with the rules and requires that you carefully search for them, as well as clearly understand why these rules exist, what they are used for, and what rules apply to the eyes, body, footwork, and postures. and hands – to co-ordinate (the energies of) peng, lu, ji, an, cai, lie, zhou, kao, and the changing postures of jin (forward), tui (retreat), gu (turn to the left ), pan (right turn) and ding (fixed posture) – and also try to put them to use together. Master Chen said, “Those who study Taijiquan should not only understand the theories mentally (li), but they will have to train the methods (fa) in their bodies. They should not only understand the how but the why – that way they won’t be wasting time and will achieve something. ” He also said, “Everything you achieve depends entirely on how hard you try. Gongfu in martial arts is not achieved without hard work. If you try little you will get a poor result; If you try as hard as I do, then your gongfu will match mine. Suppose your effort surpasses mine, then your achievements may surpass mine ”. Chen Xin tiene un verso que dice: “All the wordiness does is create a tide of black ink, putting it into practice is the real thing”. From this verse it can be seen that the previous generation of teachers, when they taught some type of art, insisted that putting it into practice was the only way to solve it.

Among the best known students of Chen Fake are: his sons Chen Zaoxu and Chen Zaokui, In addition to; Hong Junsheng, Lei Muni, Feng Zhiqiang, Gu Liuxin, Chen Baoqi, Tian Xiuchen, Chen Shouli, Kan Guixiang (Author of the Chen-style taiji quan original 36-movement form and professor at Beijing Physical Education University).


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