The following series of articles will present the origins of Tai Chi Chuan and important Chen family masters of this internal martial art.
The origins of Tai Chi Chuan can be traced to Henan province, Wen prefecture, Chen Village. Six hundred years ago, Chen Village was known as Chang Yang Village. According to the records of Wen prefecture during the reign of Emperor Hong Wu of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Zhu Yuan Zhang massacred the villagers of Huai Qing which at the time was in charge of eight prefectures, Wen prefecture being one of the eight. Zhu Yuan Zhang had ordered an offensive against Huai Qing which was being defended by Yuan dynasty General Tie Ma Er. Having stalled the Ming Offensive, Zhu Yuan Zhang became enraged and ordered the mass slaughter of all the people associated in the areas of Huai Qing. When the Ming armies entered the Huai Qing area they killed everyone they saw and burned down every house they saw, leaving the area void of all life. In 1372, or during the fifth year of the reign of Emperor Hong Wu, there was a mass effort on the part of the government to repopularize the Huai Qing area, ordering a mass migration of people from Shanxi.
Chen family ancestor Chen Bu was originally native to Shanxi, Zezou, Dong Tu He Village. During the mass immigration efforts of the government he followed the immigrants to the Hua Qing area due to the famine in Hongdong prefecture and coercion from government soldiers.
Chen Bu was a very righteous person and was skilled in martial arts. During the mass exodus from Shanxi to Henan, he would always protect the immigrants when danger occurred. He moved along with the villagers and finally arrived in Huai Qing where they started construction of a small village on the grasslands. Everyone respected Chen Bu greatly for his efforts in protecting the immigrants during the exodus, and as a result they decided to name the village based on Chen Bu’s surname, and hence the creation of Chen Bu Village. However two years later, Chen Bu and the members of Chen Bu Village relocated Chang Yang Village due to the poor geographical location of Chen Bu Village.
There was a group of bandits hiding within the vicinity of Chan Yang Village and they would often raid the village. As a result, Chen Bu led a group of his disciples to attack the bandit hideout at night when the bandits were asleep. After ridding the bandits from the area, Chen Bu’s name became famous within the surrounding area. As his fame spread, people from all over the area came to become his student to learn martial arts from him. Chen Bu then set up a martial arts training center in the village to receive students and teach martial arts. The establishment of the training center laid the foundation for each successive generation practicing martial arts. Afterwards, the Chen Family grew to be one of the major families in the village. Added with their fame in martial arts, the villagers decided to change the name of the village from Chang Yang Village to Chen Village. With the time passing by, the Ming Dynasty ended and the Qing Dynasty began. During this time, Chen Village produced a martial art prodigy, a ninth generation descendant of Chen Bu. The “founder of tai chi chuan”, his name, Chen Wang Ting.
The next article will outline the biography of Chen Wang Ting.