Tai chi is not always done in slow motion. The Chen tai chi style includes a number of fast, explosive moves--jumping kicks, cannon fists, and thundering stomps—even for beginners.
If you’re athletically inclined or are looking for an exciting tai chi style, consider the Chen.
Silk Reeling. A trademark of the Chen tai chi style is its use of silk reeling energy. Imagine the laborious task of unraveling—in a single thread--a silk worm’s cocoon. A light touch with a smooth, circular motion as well as an even, continuous pressure is needed to have any hope of this.
This type of silk reeling energy is generated by the external coiling movements in the Chen forms. The technique uses the smooth generation of energy for the explosive release.
Chen Style Tai Chi Video. Watch a video clip of Bruce Frantzis demonstrating the trademark Chen style explosive elements and silk reeling here.
Chen Style Considerations. The Chen style often uses large, expansive movements. While dramatic and effective, these deep stances can be hard on the lower back and knees.
When looking to strengthen your back and knees, consider a gentler tai chi style, the Wu style. Wu tai chi stances or poses are narrower and higher than in the Chen, and don’t put as much stress on the knees and back. More information about the Wu style can be found here.
Learning Chen Tai Chi Moves. Each ‘Move’ is not a simple movement but a combination of actions, including weight shifts, and blows. Learning these physical movements in the Chen tai chi choreography can be challenging. If you're up for the challenge, here are some strategies for learning tai chi moves that can help.
Chen Tai Chi 19 and 24 Posture Short Forms. Beginners to Chen will usually start by learning a Chen Tai Chi Short Form, with 19 or 24 Moves. These Short Forms include such moves as “Buddha’s Warrior Pounds the Mortar”, “Double Pushing Hands”, and “Whirling Arms”.
Chen Tai Chi: A Mysterious and Secretive Style. Chen is the oldest known style of tai chi, stemming from the Chen village in 17th century China. It is also one of the more mysterious styles. The Chen villagers had a lot of motivation to practice their tai chi—attacking bandit gangs and invading war lords.
The Chen villagers were amazingly successful at defending their homes, crops, and families from these attackers. They were also highly secretive, guarding their Chen tai chi secrets for over a century, refusing to teach it to any outsider.
Chen Tai Chi Instructors. In this day and age, even beginners have the chance to delve into Chen tai chi secrets. But, compared to other tai chi styles, it may take a bit more research to find an instructor or training materials. Chen practitioners make up only ~1% of the tai chi world.
The Chen style of tai chi is rewarding and exciting, particularly those looking for a more physically challenging workout.