Interesting - so who first called it Taijiquan

Xue Sheng

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I was just reading some excerpts from an article by Douglas Wile (Taijiquan & Daoism - Religion to Martial Art to Religion)

And it was discussing the origins of Taijiquan and it was rather interesting, interesting enough for me to hunt it down and buy it so I could read the entire article.

One of the things he is saying is that the name "Taijiquan" was not used by anyone until after Yang Luchan taught the style he developed, based on what he learned from the Chen family, to Wu Yuxiang and it was Wu Yuxiang who started calling it Taijiquan then the Yangs and after that the Chens.

We now have 20 generations of Chen family with Taijiquan starting with the Ninth generation Chen Wangting (1580–1660) Aand Yang Luchan’s teacherwas Chen Changxing who was 14th generation
 

oaktree

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I would have to agree with Wile. I think as well it was not called Taijiquan. Is it possible that an art from somewhere based on something(maybe Shaolin cannon fist or long fist or insert style name) was brought in to Chen village and it was taught as a family art.
Chen Wangting added to it and by the time it reached Chen Changxing
it may have gone through more changes.

I think there is a big gap between Chen Wangting and Chen Changxing.
So what happen between the time beteween Wangting and the time till Changxing?

If we look at Taijiquan evolution from just the late 19th-20 century we can see changes in it(The different family styles and even different teaching forms within a same style). If we use that as a model then we may
come to a similar conclusion on its origins as a synthesis of a previous style. I do not think the system was created by one person. What I mean by that is it is a rather complex system in its present form(perhaps by Yang Lu Chuan time) that in my opinion things were added to it,discarded or changed. But really that is speculation on my part.

Here are some links that may bring a more probable answer.





The myth surrounding the origins of taijiquan appears to date back no earlier than the early 1870s, and was the product of practitioners of the Yang style of taijiquan, who seized on the story in Huang Zongxi's Epitaph to claim ancient Taoist origins for their style of boxing. Actually, the style of Chinese boxing which became known as taijiquan evolved from a boxing set practiced in the village of Chenjiagou, Henan Province, which Chen Changing (1771-1853) taught to Yang Luchan (1799-1872). The set practiced by the Chen family appears, in turn, to have received considerable inspiration from Ming general, Qi Jiguang's 32 forms, and was not originally called taijiquan. The name taijiquan appears to have been adopted around 1854 or later, after the discovering of an old boxing treatise which used the term taiji in the opening line to one section. (Hennins 176)
- http://www.nardis.com/~twchan/henning.html
http://ymaa.com/articles/origin-of-taijiquan-2
http://www.itcca.it/peterlim/historg1.htm

http://www.itcca.it/peterlim/historg2.htm

http://www.itcca.it/peterlim/historg3.htm
http://www.itcca.it/peterlim/historg4.htm

http://www.chenfamilytaiji.com/taiji_history.html


http://www.scanews.com/caf/2002/06/06272002.html
 
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ggg214

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i have search this on line, no one can give a conclusion about who is the fist one called this style taiji quan.
 

clfsean

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The Chen family practiced Pao Chui as a family art. Not a big shocker since Shaolin is only about 60 miles from there as the crow flies across the river.

Taiji Quan?? Who knows... it's kinda like the chicken & egg thing.
 

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I was actually reading this today.

From Master Chen Xiaowang:

http://www.taiji-bg.com/articles/taijiquan/t24.htm

HC: Master Chen can you start by telling us the origin of Chen style taijiquan?

CXW: We can start with my ancestor, Chen Bu, the first generation. He was originally from Shanxi province. Nearing the end of the Ming Dynasty, over 500 years ago Chen Bu migrated to Henan province and moved his family to present day Chenjiagou Village in the County of Wenxian. At that time the village was called Changyang village (mainly consisting of people with the surnames Chang and Yang). When the Chen clan prospered and its population increased, the village name was changed to Chenjiagou (Chen - surname, Jia - the family of, Gou - gully or ravine, because the village lies in a gully not far from the Yellow River). Chen Bu was an accomplished martial artist, so everyone in my village has been practising kung-fu since then. Nothing very much happened until the ninth generation, the time of Chen Wanting, who was an outstanding scholar and martial artist.

A little bit of background and then this:

Because Chen Wanting had fought in many battles and travelled and read widely, he was able to combine many good points from other schools and from his past experience, and build upon what was passed down by Chen Bu to create a unique system of martial arts.

HC: What was so special about Chen Wantings taijiquan?

CXW: One, he synthesized many forms of boxing into one system. He was especially influenced by the writing of General Qi Jiguang (The 32 forms of the Canons of Boxing) a collection of forms from 16 schools. Two, he utilized the theory of yin and yang as the theoretical basis of his martial arts. Three, he combined traditional Chinese medical theories (e.g. jingluo and acupuncture) and techniques of daoyin (the concentrated exertion of inner force) and tuna (deep breathing exercises) into his system. Four, he invented the chanxi (reeling silk) techniques and the push hands exercises.

Later on the empty hand forms got condensed into the laoji (old forms) as they're called now.

Not a single mention of any magical Taoist immortals. It was Pao chui until after the name Taijiquan gained popularity.

In essence, from the Lineage holder of the Chen family, it was built upon over the centuries, but it was Chen Wanting who did the most work on it. Of course, probably the other great in it's development was Yang Lu Chan. I suspect that they were both amazing individuals who were able to synthesize other techniques to improve upon what they already had. Unfortunately the vast majority of Yang style is heavily watered down from what YLC was doing. Oh how it might be a different landscape now if Yang Jianhou had survived to pass down his skills rather than Yang Banhou.
 
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Xue Sheng

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I have been over and over the origin of Taijiquan on MT and over and over the mysterious Zhang Sengfeng who did not even appear in Chinese history until 1669 in the Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan and it was in no association what-so-ever with Taijiquan or the Chen family or any other Taiji family.

I have also personally talked to Chen Zhenglei about the origin of taijiquan as well as my sifu who is Yang style and they do not agree.


To be honest historically speaking, there is no proof that Zhang Sengfeng ever existed. But then there is no record of Yang Luchan ever exiting either. Could be that he was originally names Yang Fukui, could be poor record keeping, could be a number of things. Either way we are pretty sure he existed. And likely he changed the origin story a bit to gain more legitimacy. Also after the Yang family success there has been more than a few references to the Chen family changing their origin story as to not agree with the Yang family.

Basically I do not believe the origin story of the Yang family, but that is the most accepted by the old school none Chen people. I also do not 100% believe the origin story of the Chen family because it was to their benefit at the time to make it what it was. And throw in the origin story of the Zhaobao people which disagrees with both families and you have a big damn mess.

However I do tend to agree more with what the Chen familys version is but I have not yet entirely seen the Zhaobao claim.

But more to the point I really do not want to get into an origin debate, been there done that both on and off MT. I did however find the naming bits rather interesting.
 

East Winds

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AidanO,

"Unfortunately the vast majority of Yang style is heavily watered down from what YLC was doing".

Would you care to expand on that statement please?

Very best wishes
 
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Xue Sheng

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AidanO,

"Unfortunately the vast majority of Yang style is heavily watered down from what YLC was doing".

Would you care to expand on that statement please?

Very best wishes

I missed that, thanks for asking the question. This sound like an Erle statement

But if you go a few generations down the Yang Taiji lineage tree (5th) Tung Hu ling was fighting and winning using Yang Taiji in Thailand in order to open a school there so how watered down can it be
 

AidanO

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AidanO,

"Unfortunately the vast majority of Yang style is heavily watered down from what YLC was doing".

Would you care to expand on that statement please?

Very best wishes

I missed that, thanks for asking the question. This sound like an Erle statement

But if you go a few generations down the Yang Taiji lineage tree (5th) Tung Hu ling was fighting and winning using Yang Taiji in Thailand in order to open a school there so how watered down can it be

I was in a bit of a rush yesterday when I was writing it, so this comment didn't get elaborated upon. I am most definitely not saying that it is not an effective martial art. In the hands of a dedicated practitioner.

My personal core of training is in Yang style and due to unfortunate circumstances, I've been forced to use it to defend myself. What I was expressing however was the general state of what has happened to Yang style, in health clubs and the like. Even amongst many who teach it as a MA haven't always been exposed to the rigors of traditional teaching. Some teach the applications once or twice, unlike other martial arts where they will drill them for half an hour on each application. Not that I'm saying every martial art has to work and train the same way, but there are definitely moves in Taiji that can't be practiced in push hands.

Then we have the expansion of the form. While YCF was a great individual and some of his students were exceptional, he clearly stated that the form wasn't to be changed any further from his final expansion into Large Frame. Considering that it is widely held that his father performed Medium frame and YLC performed Small frame, with subtle differences between each 'frame' there is no lineage that teaches what the founder of the style himself taught.

So in essence, is it effective? Yes. Is it as effective as it could be? With a lot of work on the part of the individual, yes. In my personal opinion it is watered down, since while the current standard can certainly be used as a guide map to the principles and the moves necessary for combat, it takes the dedicated mind to shrink it back to a personal smaller frame to be highly effective. Rather than being taught so someone who isn't creative can use it once taught.
 
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Xue Sheng

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I was in a bit of a rush yesterday when I was writing it, so this comment didn't get elaborated upon. I am most definitely not saying that it is not an effective martial art. In the hands of a dedicated practitioner.

My personal core of training is in Yang style and due to unfortunate circumstances, I've been forced to use it to defend myself. What I was expressing however was the general state of what has happened to Yang style, in health clubs and the like. Even amongst many who teach it as a MA haven't always been exposed to the rigors of traditional teaching. Some teach the applications once or twice, unlike other martial arts where they will drill them for half an hour on each application. Not that I'm saying every martial art has to work and train the same way, but there are definitely moves in Taiji that can't be practiced in push hands.

No worries and you are correct. The majority of Yang Style taught today, or for that matter any Taijiquan tends to be martial arts free.

I do believe it was Chen Xiaowang that said he feels taijiquan as a martial art is virtually dead because there are so few that actually knows the martial arts side of it as compared to those that don’t.

As to move that cannot be practiced in push hands; that would depend on what level of push hands you are training. But you are better off training with a more free style Tuishou for applications in real time. The problem here is finding someone training taiji that wants to do that.


Then we have the expansion of the form. While YCF was a great individual and some of his students were exceptional, he clearly stated that the form wasn't to be changed any further from his final expansion into Large Frame. Considering that it is widely held that his father performed Medium frame and YLC performed Small frame, with subtle differences between each 'frame' there is no lineage that teaches what the founder of the style himself taught.

So in essence, is it effective? Yes. Is it as effective as it could be? With a lot of work on the part of the individual, yes. In my personal opinion it is watered down, since while the current standard can certainly be used as a guide map to the principles and the moves necessary for combat, it takes the dedicated mind to shrink it back to a personal smaller frame to be highly effective. Rather than being taught so someone who isn't creative can use it once taught.

As to the changes from small, medium to large. My sifu tends to feel that at least one of the reasons was more based on body types of those doing the forms, Yang Luchan being smaller than his son Yang Jianhou and Yang Chengfu being bigger than both of them. Where Yang Banhou and Yang Shouhou were closer to the size of Yang Luchan.

AS to not changing the form, well that bit is true but per my sifu just before Yang Chengfu died he was talking with my sifu’s teacher Tung Ying Chieh about creating a fast form with more obvious fajing and qinna, which the current Yang family denies was ever discussed, and the conversation had just gotten to the physical work on the form when Yang Chengfu died. Tung Ying Chieh finished the form based on the discussions he had with Yang Chengfu and called it the Yang fast form. Tung Sigung later went on to develop a second fast form that, I believed he called the second fast form that was a combination of Yang style and Wu/Hao style.
 
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Xue Sheng

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I would have to agree with Wile. I think as well it was not called Taijiquan. Is it possible that an art from somewhere based on something(maybe Shaolin cannon fist or long fist or insert style name) was brought in to Chen village and it was taught as a family art.
Chen Wangting added to it and by the time it reached Chen Changxing
it may have gone through more changes.

I think there is a big gap between Chen Wangting and Chen Changxing.
So what happen between the time beteween Wangting and the time till Changxing?

If we look at Taijiquan evolution from just the late 19th-20 century we can see changes in it(The different family styles and even different teaching forms within a same style). If we use that as a model then we may
come to a similar conclusion on its origins as a synthesis of a previous style. I do not think the system was created by one person. What I mean by that is it is a rather complex system in its present form(perhaps by Yang Lu Chuan time) that in my opinion things were added to it,discarded or changed. But really that is speculation on my part.

Stanley Henning article is great and the Epitaph was the first time anyone read about Zhang Sanfeng. But after that he pops up all over Chinese history and he is placed there by many that would be considered reputable sources but due to the plethora of times that are incredibly far apart it is highly unlikely he was alive for all of those references, that is assuming there was ever someone actually named Zhang Senfeng in the first place. HE is also been called a Taoist, a Buddhist and a few other things too.

My personal feeling at this point is no one will ever know but it is possible that what was Chen Paochui (which likely came from Shaolin) combined with a bit of Taoist Philosophy as the Chen family claims, whatever else the Chens were training and then later combined with an older Qigong form that was called Taiji qigong or Daoyin or whatever the name for Qigong was at the time. But this is pure speculation on my part based on some reading.

There are a few University Historians in China trying to figure this out and the last time I checked their conclusion was "We don't know"


 

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AidanO,

Thanks for the reply. I agree with you on the "Health Club" issue. It may be called Yang Taiji but it most certainly isn't. My own form is Traditional Yang Family Taijiquan with a direct lineage back to YCF. It is of course Large Frame and after working for 25 years in some of Scotands most difficult prisons, I can assure you of its efficacy in conflict situations!!!! Therefore I do not agree that it needs to be Small Frame to be effictive martially.

The core Jin of Yang style is Peng and this can most certainly be pracised and perfected in push hands. I also cannot acccept the theory that there is no Fa Jin in Yang style. If you do not Fa Jin (release energy) at the end of every posture then there is something seriously lacking in ones understanding of Yang Taijiquan.

No one knows what Yang Lu Chan taught (despite what some teachers would have you believe) so of course there is no lineage for this form.

Can you tell us more about your core training in Yang so that we might have a better understanding of where you are coming from?

Very best wishes
 

AidanO

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AidanO,

Thanks for the reply. I agree with you on the "Health Club" issue. It may be called Yang Taiji but it most certainly isn't. My own form is Traditional Yang Family Taijiquan with a direct lineage back to YCF. It is of course Large Frame and after working for 25 years in some of Scotands most difficult prisons, I can assure you of its efficacy in conflict situations!!!! Therefore I do not agree that it needs to be Small Frame to be effictive martially.

The core Jin of Yang style is Peng and this can most certainly be pracised and perfected in push hands. I also cannot acccept the theory that there is no Fa Jin in Yang style. If you do not Fa Jin (release energy) at the end of every posture then there is something seriously lacking in ones understanding of Yang Taijiquan.

No one knows what Yang Lu Chan taught (despite what some teachers would have you believe) so of course there is no lineage for this form.

Can you tell us more about your core training in Yang so that we might have a better understanding of where you are coming from?

Very best wishes

I'm going to try and reply to everyone in one post, but I may skip a bit.

My own Taiji background is a bit of a mash-up. I initially learnt the Yang 24 form, although it was from someone who had known the martial applications and just taught the 24 because it was easy and oh so common. Learnt the basics of push-hands with him. Then I left for the navy. Prior to leaving for the navy, the styles I'd learnt had been Shaolin and Wing Chun mainly. However, I'd done a seminar with Master Wu (Chen style, GM Hong Jun-sheng lineage) and he stayed in the back of my mind. I posted into Melbourne later on and for my duration there trained with him, learning the Chen way of doing things. Much of my career I had to train on my own, I briefly attended a Wu style class, but it was too fundamentally different for me. (The whole leaning thing, while it works if you stay pure Wu, doesn't work if that's not what you want to be doing)

Finally moved back to Sydney and started training under Master Ho. Master Ho's lineage is directly traceable to Yang Cheng Fu. Learnt off his father, who learnt off his father in law, who was YCF's student. I'm not sure how senior a student his grandfather was, however there are distinct similarities between what I am learning off Master Ho and what youtube shows me Master Tung's form looked like.

This is what I found:

I assume that is him. There are differences, I am nowhere near that good. However the general shape of the form is the same accounting for different skills.

I agree with there definitely being fajin in Yang style. Especially since it is present in the weapon forms (or should be). So while it may not be as obvious in the empty hand, it should be present. Mine is a bit more obvious than most I train with, but that's the Chen background coming through, where I originally learnt and developed it.

As to push hands being able to train every move, it can train most and the principles, but the moves that involve spinning around and deflecting strikes from behind. Like the lead up to Fist under Elbow, might require dedicated practice. Of course, it's possible that I just don't know that level of push hands.

I personally prefer a smaller frame than larger. But that Master Tung clip I linked, is also much smaller than the Yang Family style performed by Yang Jun let alone the health center Tai Chi. And yet he learnt large frame off yang Cheng Fu, so perhaps my definition of Large Frame and Medium Frame is wrong.
 
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Xue Sheng

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I'm going to try and reply to everyone in one post, but I may skip a bit.

My own Taiji background is a bit of a mash-up. I initially learnt the Yang 24 form, although it was from someone who had known the martial applications and just taught the 24 because it was easy and oh so common. Learnt the basics of push-hands with him. Then I left for the navy. Prior to leaving for the navy, the styles I'd learnt had been Shaolin and Wing Chun mainly. However, I'd done a seminar with Master Wu (Chen style, GM Hong Jun-sheng lineage) and he stayed in the back of my mind. I posted into Melbourne later on and for my duration there trained with him, learning the Chen way of doing things. Much of my career I had to train on my own, I briefly attended a Wu style class, but it was too fundamentally different for me. (The whole leaning thing, while it works if you stay pure Wu, doesn't work if that's not what you want to be doing)

Finally moved back to Sydney and started training under Master Ho. Master Ho's lineage is directly traceable to Yang Cheng Fu. Learnt off his father, who learnt off his father in law, who was YCF's student. I'm not sure how senior a student his grandfather was, however there are distinct similarities between what I am learning off Master Ho and what youtube shows me Master Tung's form looked like.

This is what I found:

I assume that is him. There are differences, I am nowhere near that good. However the general shape of the form is the same accounting for different skills.

I agree with there definitely being fajin in Yang style. Especially since it is present in the weapon forms (or should be). So while it may not be as obvious in the empty hand, it should be present. Mine is a bit more obvious than most I train with, but that's the Chen background coming through, where I originally learnt and developed it.

As to push hands being able to train every move, it can train most and the principles, but the moves that involve spinning around and deflecting strikes from behind. Like the lead up to Fist under Elbow, might require dedicated practice. Of course, it's possible that I just don't know that level of push hands.

I personally prefer a smaller frame than larger. But that Master Tung clip I linked, is also much smaller than the Yang Family style performed by Yang Jun let alone the health center Tai Chi. And yet he learnt large frame off yang Cheng Fu, so perhaps my definition of Large Frame and Medium Frame is wrong.

Tung Ying Chieh is my Sigung and that was him in the video.

He was very much into Qinna as well but that Qinna comes from his Taijiquan. He was a student of Yang Chengfu but he was a student of Li Xiang Youan (Li Hsiang Yuan) Wu (Hao)-style taijiquan prior to studying with Yang Chengfu.

As a note he never referred to anything he did as Tung/Dong style nor did any of his children or students. That label came from his younger Grandson Dong Zeng Chen and is now being used by Dong Zeng Chen son Alex Dong.
 
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Xue Sheng

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As to the subject of the original post

I should probably have added that Wu Yuxiang 武禹襄, (1812–1880) was the founder of Wu/Hao style taijiquan And he was a student of Yang Luchan and Chen Qingping

Wu/Hao is a combination of Old Yang Style and 15th generation Chen Style Small Frame (also called Zhaobao Frame)
 
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Stanley Henning article is great and the Epitaph was the first time anyone read about Zhang Sanfeng. But after that he pops up all over Chinese history and he is placed there by many that would be considered reputable sources but due to the plethora of times that are incredibly far apart it is highly unlikely he was alive for all of those references, that is assuming there was ever someone actually named Zhang Senfeng in the first place. HE is also been called a Taoist, a Buddhist and a few other things too.
Emperor Chengzu is reportly the first to mention him in a letter. There is reference to him in the Ningpo chronicles. Emperor Chengzu was a very supersitious person and very interested in religion and miltary learning. The thing is we run into a couple of problems with San Feng: 1.If we are to believe Emperor Chengzu was looking for him that would be during his reign most likely. That would be 1402-1424. The accounts of San Feng "alive" is 1279-1368 so San would have been dead already by the time Chengwu was looking for him. It may have been Chengwu knew this and used it as some sort of political gain or his superstitious behavior really belived that San Feng was some sort of Immortal man.

2.There are many names that are attributed to San Feng as his given name. I imagine trying to trace the names would be very hard.

3. Supposely there was 2 people using San Feng as a name.
If we look at the Hanzi 张三丰 his name means to expand the 3 abundace.
It seems to me to be a very obvious taoist name and of course not his given name. It could mean something to do with the three treasures of Alchemy, maybe the 3 schools of Buddhist Taoist and Confucious which is what the Dragon gate sect is.

4.San Feng's Wudang sect name. Supposely San Feng founded a branch of the Lungmen sect called the San Feng pai(San Feng school) Looking at other Taoist sects,most of the names are not named after their founder for example: Tianshi Tao(celestial masters way) was not named Zhang Ling or(His name DaoLing)The same can be said for the other schools as well. But to be fair I do not know all the sub sects of Taoism so is it possible that San Feng named his sect after himself maybe but out of all the sects I have seen this is not the case.

Most are named after a concept or a very Taoist thought.
I think when the name San Feng sect came about San Feng was already defied at the time. Like for example Lao tzu becomes a god. I find this to be more reasonable.

There are a few University Historians in China trying to figure this out and the last time I checked their conclusion was "We don't know"
I don't think it can be verified. I think we can come to a reasonable conclusion and speculation on things. We can come to probable account. But a definite answer on San Feng I doubt it.

I will see if I can find the Ningbo chronicles that mention San Feng.
There is supposely another account called Ming history but with out seeing what the Hanzi was for it or author or anything I do not think I can find it. [FONT=&#23435]内家张三丰拳法[/FONT] Nei Jia Zhang San Feng Quan Fa
Interesting. I will look more into this it might have some more history on things.
 

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If you look at the taichi lineage, Zhang SanFeng's first student is master Wang Zhong Yue. Master Wang wrote a few tai chi theory classics which is well known today. He mention taichi and wuchi in one of his classics. He should be the first one to call it taichi.
 
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Xue Sheng

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Nope, it was Wu Yuxiang and he comes after Chen and Yang

And there is no historically verifiable lineage to or from Zhang Sanfeng
 

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Nope, it was Wu Yuxiang and he comes after Chen and Yang

And there is no historically verifiable lineage to or from Zhang Sanfeng
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Doug Wile is one of the best serious scholars on taiji. One of his books is The Lost Taiji Classics. He discounts the myth of taiji coming from Zhang Sanfeng. I don't remeber what he said of who first called it taiji. But there is a good case -based on Wile and others -that General Chen Wanting after retiring to his Chen village devloped taiji as a martial art based
on some existing martial classics and his experience. The founder of Yang style originally learned in Chen village.

joy chaudhuri
 
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Doug Wile is one of the best serious scholars on taiji. One of his books is The Lost Taiji Classics. He discounts the myth of taiji coming from Zhang Sanfeng. I don't remeber what he said of who first called it taiji. But there is a good case -based on Wile and others -that General Chen Wanting after retiring to his Chen village devloped taiji as a martial art based
on some existing martial classics and his experience. The founder of Yang style originally learned in Chen village.

joy chaudhuri

I have no doubt that Taijiquan as we know it today comes from Chen Wangting but he did not call it Taijiquan. It was not called Taijiquan or referred to as Taijiquan until Wu Yuxiang. However Wu Yuxiang did not develop Taijiquan.

Wu Yuxing learned it from Yang Luchan who learned it from Chen Chen Changxing a 14th generation Chen family Taijiquan
 

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