Illustrated Explanations of Chen Family Taijiquan © All rights reserved 2016



Chen Xin



Chen Xin.

Reader comments

1) By     David J. Chesser  (Taipei, Taiwan) -

“Written by a member of the Chen family, Chen Xin, this is the first comprehensive look at Chen style taiji. Chen completed his work in the 1920's and it's based on his practice of the "xiaojia" frame of Chen style which is a bit different from the more commonly seen laojia frame. So the form, which is meticulously broken down in the book, is the older xiaojia form.”
Thanks a lot for this information as in Chen Style forms are multiplying, from the Laojia, Xinjia, Competition routine, the Chen Fake’s influence, etc… .

So confusing. Yes it is very important to position the referred form in this book as xiaojia

Chen's point of view is heavily flavored by his knowledge of Yijing philosophy and internal alchemy. The book is basically steeped in it. Chen starts right at the source with the Luo and He River maps that were the pre-cursors to the Yijing in order to explain in minute detail exactly where taiji philosophy and movement came from. He then segues into Yijing philosophy and explains the trigrams, a basis for understanding how the trigrams influence the form that follows later. The meridian theory from TCM is then introduced as an explanation for silk reeling.
It is quite normal and almost evident that Chen Xin refers to Yi Jing and internal alchemy, as we know that Chen Xin was a high level scholar and did want to express his erudition within his works on martial arts.
At his time Yi Jing was the most elaborate philosophical and mathematical concept to be manipulated by scholars, as well as “internal alchemy” a prime subject for any Taoist adept... We can also continue with TCM which was at that time the only known medicine for a Chinese.
In a word, as a serious scholar he would use these most refined conceptual tools to explain the core movement in Chen style: silk reeling.

Basically the silk reeling originates in the dantian and then spirals out through the meridians in the body and the limbs. Chen provides perhaps a bit more detail than necessary to understand that concept, but better too much than too little.
Well, this is jumping too fast to a conclusion in mentioning dantian than spirals… In fact through a real and long practice, we will feel the absolute NEED for further details about how to spiral AFTER the dantian and it is NOT too much.

Chen makes it so clear right from the beginning that internal alchemy is THE point of doing taiji. He even mentions seated meditation at key points in the text as a way of illuminating things that may not be clear from just form practice. The form itself is explained in terms of the alchemy with each move broken down into silk reeling and alchemical components. This section will prove invaluable to practitioners of any taijiquan style. Using this text, taiji people can pick out the alchemy elements of each move in order to practice them.
Chen does mention martial uses of the taiji, but these comments are buried inside the larger alchemical context. In order to understand the applications, you must be thoroughly familiar with the yin/yang philosophy that Chen uses or else the application theory won't make sense. So in order to grasp what he says about application, you must grasp the central thesis of the book which means not skipping the long parts on alchemy.
Alchemy, alchemy, alchemy... at the time of Chen Xin and before, yes but today this can be also verified by more scientific approaches such as biomechanics, physics...

This book is a masterpiece, albeit one that will unfortunately not be as influential in the West as it is in the East. For example, when I studied Chen style in Taiwan, my teachers told me this was the only book I needed to buy. It's deep enough to be plumbed for a lifetime. But because of that depth, few will be able to penetrate the book's teachings. Basically the book is far deeper than most are willing to go in their taiji practice even though following the advice of this book would lead them to true knowledge of the taiji and taijiquan.
As I read it, I felt a little sad, as if I had been given a glimpse of a masterpiece that would unfortunately not be shared by many people.
Very true Tom, because of esoteric terms, concepts coming from the past of Chinese Ancient civilization, we should rather try to read it with our present eyes and grasp what it makes sense for us in our daily practice and there are a lot of tips from Chen Xin that we can get...

2)  By Tom
“Chen makes it so clear right from the beginning that internal alchemy is THE point of doing taiji. ”
Another mentioning Chinese alchemy, but this time Tom is going further in terms of historical references
It would be more accurate to say that internal alchemy was THE point of doing taiji–for Chen Xin . . . but not necessarily for his father or other Chenshi practitioners of Chen Xin’s or earlier generations, especially those who–like Chen Xin’s brother and father–trained their taijiquan in the context of their economic livelihood as caravan security or personal bodyguards. But there does seem to be significant evidence of at least allusions to Daoist alchemy dating back to Chen Wanting (ca. 1600-1680). So the scholar and the warrior are intertwined through several generations of the Chen family’s martial art.
It’s worth considering Jarek’s writing on Chen Xin and the context for his book (see
True, Jarek has done a fabulous job in offering unvaluable information on Chen Xin, his life and how laborious he worked on his books...
For naysayers who doubt that alchemy was ever a part of taijiquan as it developed within Chenjiagou before Chen Xin, there is the reference to Chen Wangting (1600s) in his dotage in Chenjiagou: “Now old and fragile, I am left only with the book of Huang Ting [Jing] for company.” This book is a traditional classic of Daoist alchemy.
“In creating the art he drew from a number of sources including Jixiaoxinshu (New Book Of Effective Techniques,) a military classic penned by General Qi Jiguang. But what is most significant about Wangting’s contribution is his incorporation of Daoist philosophy into his martial system, drawing from Huang Ting Jing (Classic of the Yellow Court), a Daoist book of high-level spiritual training often confused with Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic) the foundation volume of Chinese medical theory.
Recent evidence credits the Li family, Wangting’s mother’s side, with the Daoist influence. There was a mythical figure, Wang Zhong Yue, author of the classic Taijiquan Lun. We now know that Wang was a schoolteacher hired by the Li family. Interestingly the Li family also has their own martial art called Wuji system. Wuji is the word for the Daoist concept of emptiness, the state of the universe, pregnant with infinite possibility, before it organized into the harmonious interplay of opposing forces known as taiji.”
Don’t worry Tom we definitively believe you, it has definitively strong connection with Chinese Internal Alchemy, but it is also true for any Chinese Internal Arts...