Tai Chi Chuan Styles - Chen, Yang, Chen Man-Ching

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Chen Style Tai Chi

Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan is arguably the oldest of the traditional styles. Although the origins of Tai Chi Chuan are lost in the mists of antiquity, it is probable that Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan was developed by Chen Wang Ting (9th generation Chen family) at the end of the Ming dynasty x(1368-1644). The Chen family cultivated and developed this martial art. There are therefore different lines existing which can be assigned to various family members. A rough classification distinguishes Laojia (old frame), Dajia (great frame), Xiaojia (small frame) and Xinjia (new frame). This classification is a result of differences in sequence of movements and performance, while the principles of Chen Style are generally maintained. While in the past the martial art was mostly handed down within the family, there are today numerous members of the Chen family who teach and promote their style worldwide.

Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan combines many principles of movement with the development and cultivation of internal structure and energy. Chen Style uses hard, soft, fast and slow movements for offensive and defensive fight application. At the same time it is a method for the development of good health, preventing sickness, reducing stress and a way for meditation, quietness and relaxation. Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan is a complete system for martial art and health, based on simple and natural principles.


Yang Style Tai Chi

For many centuries Tai Chi was practiced privately, passed on from father to son, in the Chen Village in northern China. In the mid-1800s Master Yang Lu Shan became the first to learn the Chen form, and as the commander of the imperial guards, taught this advanced self-defense method to his men. In the early 1900s His grandson, Master Yang Cheng Fu, modified his family’s form into what now known as Yang Style Long Form Tai Chi.

The Yang Style Short Form Tai Chi developed by Professor Cheng Man-ching consists of 37 postures executed in a continuous sequence at a slow speed. Complete relaxation, accuracy of balance, and smoothness of motion are some of the elements which make up its correct practice. The form is performed alone and requires no special equipment. Tai Chi Chuan offers a means of deeply relaxing while being very alert and active.

Cheng Man-Ching Lineage

In the 1930s, Yang Cheng Fu’s famous student Cheng Man-Ching, shortened and simplified the Yang Style form while maintaining its martial arts applications. He taught it to students at a military academy and later to the Chinese army. It soon became popular with the public as a health exercise. This is known as the Yang Style Cheng Man-Ching Lineage form, Yang Style Short Form, Simplified Tai Chi or Cheng Man-Ching’s 37 postures.

Since then, his students, including Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo, William C.C. Chen and Maggie Newman have taught Cheng Man-Ching lineage Yang style Tai Chi to thousands of students across the United States and Europe, making it the most popular form worldwide.


Cheng Man-Ching

"The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West" A Video.

Professor Cheng Man-Ching (1902-1975) is considered one of the greatest Tai Chi masters of modern times. He was a pioneer, instrumental in bringing Tai Chi and Chinese philosophy to the West.

The Professor DVD cover

Cheng was unique – not only a remarkable martial artist but also an accomplished painter, poet, scholar and doctor of Chinese medicine. All his talents were deeply rooted in the philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism, finding harmony in the way humans relate to each other and to nature.

Professor Cheng saw Tai Chi as an embodiment of natural laws and as a path of human growth – a way to live, a way of finding meaning, balance and peace.

Traditional but open minded, Cheng came from a conservative world. In China he was a successful painter, doctor and professor. In the 1920’s he studied in Shanghai with the great Tai Chi grandmaster Yang Cheng-Fu continuing a lineage hundreds of years old.

After years of study Prof. Cheng revolutionized the form. Shortening it from 108 to 37 postures, he distilled tai chi to its essence, making it more accessible to the modern world. 

In 1949 after the revolution he moved to Taiwan where his paintings were acquired by the National Museum. He became a member of the National Assembly. He was a well respected member of the intellectual and political elite.

But in 1962, at age 60, Cheng decided to leave his privileged position and move with his family to New York. His mission – to teach westerners the profound ideas of classic Chinese culture. Living simply in Manhattan he spent the last dozen years of his life teaching here.

Cheng Man-Ching arrived in the U.S. amidst the political and social upheaval of the 1960’s. He founded a Tai Chi school in the heart of New York’s Chinatown where many of his students were an unusual group of young, eager Americans – artists, scientists, hippies, workers, radicals – who were searching for meaning in a competitive, materialistic, violent world.

His eclectic group of students included: Ed Young, award-winning illustrator; Maggie Newman, leading modern dancer; Stanley Israel, prison guard and union president; Ken Van Sickle photographer and filmmaker; Robert Chuckrow, physicist.

Cheng’s lessons and personality touched a chord in his American students who were open to both new ideas and old traditions. They called him “The Professor.” The students in turn influenced Cheng, who became more relaxed, flexible even playful.

Cheng had to overcome old world prejudices to bring ancient wisdom to the modern world. There were many in the Chinese community who were opposed to Prof. Cheng teaching westerners Chinese “secrets.” He was ostracized and even locked out of his school, but Cheng wasn’t stopped by intolerance. He established a new school and gladly taught all races and nationalities, men and women.

Cheng inspired and changed the lives of his students who in turn spread Tai Chi and Chinese philosophy in the West where it has taken root.

THE PROFESSOR is not meant to be an uncritical deification, but the story of a man who sought to live as a “true human being” and who overcame cultural divides to bring ancient traditions to the modern world, teaching Westerners how to seek an ethical, open-minded, joyful way of life. 

http://www.egreenway.com/taichichuan/cheng1.htm - Extensive biographical and other information on Professor Cheg Man-ch'ing

Regarding Master Cheng Man-ch'ing (1901 - 1975)

Master Chen, the late Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing, was one of the first tai chi masters to teach Westerners, and a master of 'five excellences' (tai chi, poetry, painting, calligraphy, medicine). Almost all of Cheng's works on Taijiquan have been translated into English and their influence is substantial.

Yang Style Cheng Man Ch’ing Lineage Instructors

Maggie Newman was 75 in 1999.

William C. Phillips

http://www.patiencetaichi.com -- The Patience T'ai Chi Association is one of the oldest continually operating centers for Tai Chi Instruction in the United States. This website features articles, pictures, instructional videos and clips to get you started in Tai Chi.

William C. Phillips began his study of the martial arts in 1965. He currently holds a 7th degree black belt in Karate, and a 5th degree black belt in Ju Jitsu. He began his studies of Tai Chi in l967, studying with Prof. Cheng Man-Ch'ing from '70-'75. He became the most junior student ever to become a teacher in Cheng Man-Ching's New York school, the Shr Jung. Sifu Phillips became interested in the field of holistic health in the early 1970's, when a lifelong allergy problem was alleviated with Chinese herbal medicine. Since then, he has studied widely in that field as well.

William Chi-Cheng Chen

http://www.williamccchen.com - Grandmaster William C.C. Chen

William C. C. Chen was born in Chekiang, China. He started teaching Tai Chi Chuan at the beginning of the 1950s while training as a live-in student of the famous Great-Grandmaster Cheng Man-Ching who preferred to be called Professor Cheng. Besides being the youngest of Professor Cheng's senior student, he was also a favorite disciple. In the 1950s he was involved competitively in the various free-style, Chinese Wushu. In 1958, he won second place in the Taiwan National Olympic Competition.

Grandmaster William C. C. Chen has devoted his life to the study of body mechanics and the effects of Tai Chi Chuan for art of self-defense as well as on physical health, and to the application of the principles of Tai Chi Chuan. His approach is to make Tai Chi Chuan simple, easier, natural, enjoyable and productive.

He has been a teacher since 1952 in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast. In 1965, he established the William C. C. Chen Tai Chi Chuan in New York City's Chelsea area. He is invited to give special seminars on his Body Mechanics of Tai Chi Chuan on a regular basis in Asia, southeast Asia, Europe and throughout the United States.

Regarded as one of the finest and most influential traditional internal stylist of his generation, William C. C. Chen is IKF's choice for "Man of the Year" Inside Kung-Fu's first HALL of FAME of the millennium.

IKF = International Kickboxing Federation


http://www.americanchentaichi.com/ American Chen Style Tai Chi Assciation
http://www.guangpingyang.org The Guang Ping Yang T'ai Ch'i Association
http://www.classicaltaichi.com Classical Tai Chi - Wu style - Master Wu Chian Chuan


37 posture Yang Tai Chi form developed and performed by Chen Man Ching.

Yang Style Tai Chi, Cheng Man Ch'ing Form Demonstration with Tricia Yu