Chenjiagou Taijiquan GB is an official branch of the Chenjiagou Taijiquan School…
A Part of the Chenjiagou Taijiquan School…
In the seventeenth century Chen Wangting created the original form of Taijquan when he retired to the Chenjiagou Village in China’s Henan Province. Today the village and its surrounding area has many Taijiquan schools - the most famous is the Chenjiagou Taijiquan School overseen by its principal Grandmaster Chen Xiaoxing.
We first visited Chenjiagou in the mid 1990s. At that time it was difficult to reach the simple rural village, accommodation was basic and there were no western style toilets and showers. After several more visits we were ready to take the first British group to train intensively in the Chenjiagou Taijiquan School in the winter of 2003. During our stay Chen Xiaoxing closely supervised the group’s training and for nineteen days worked slowly through the Laojia Yilu routine. Since then we have returned to the village just about every year, often twice a year, to study and learn from his personal brand of old-school training
Over the years the village has modernised and grown larger reflecting the advancing prosperity and influence of China. Each trip has had different characters and has left different memories. One year we were disturbed a few times during training by the regular groups of Taiji tourists who came to look around the village (before getting back in their buses to go to the next place of interest). Chen Xiaoxing was clearly losing patience with the interruptions when he simply said “follow me" and marched off. We followed him out of the school, down the street and into the house that belonged in the past to Chen Dehu. We went through the building into the garden where Yang Luchan had famously learned from Chen Changxing. In a traditional martial art like Chen Taijiquan its vital that you appreciate the system’s history and your own part as a link between past and future generations. Training that afternoon one could feel a palpable sense of this history. This is the place that Chen Changxing, the fourteenth generation gatekeeper and famous “biaoshi” or merchant guard, trained. Lying on the floor was a stone that he is said to have used to sharpen his weapons and another that was used for strength training. Perhaps it was here that he synthesised the Laojia routines we practice today from the original forms of Chen Wangting! In another corner is a well into which Chen Zhaopi had thrown himself, unable to bear the persecution he suffered during the dark days of the Cultural Revolution. Chen Zhaopi is credited with reviving Taijiquan in its birthplace after decades of poverty and natural disaster had seen it almost disappear.
Over time these and many other stories of Chenjiagou have become personal, no longer feeling like legends from someone else’s history. At some point a mental switch took place when we were no longer outsiders looking in, but a part of the Chen village school. Over the years we've watched young students in the school mature into dynamic instructors in their own right. Walking into the Chenjiagou school now is going back to be met by friends.
Our school’s appointment as the official UK branch of the Chenjiagou Taijiquan School was confirmed on July 1st 2013 when Chen Ziqiang, Chief Instructor of the Chen Village Taijiquan School and David Gaffney and Davidine Sim, founders of Chenjiagou Taijiquan GB (CTGB) signed the agreement in an inauguration ceremony recognising a relationship that has blossomed over nearly two decades. In October the same year GM Chen Xiaoxing presented a plaque recognising the UK branch of the school.