The 20th generation "Chen Dragons", captured in the Chen Village training hall, July 2000.
Back row, left to right: Chen Zhijun, Chen Yingjun, Chen Bing, Chen Jun.
Front row, left to right: Chen Pengfei, Chen Ziqiang
Today Chen Village and the surrounding area contain a plethora of Tai Chi schools. The most famous of these is the The Chen Village School of Tai Chi (Chenjiagou Taijiquan Xuexiao), located in the middle of the village, and currently administered by the brothers Master Chen Xiaowang and Master Chen Xiaoxing.
A list of the people who have studied there and the coaches that have taught them reads like a who’s who of Tai Chi. While I was there, I trained along side a number of potential masters in the making, including:-
- Chen Bing - Masters Chen Xiaowang & Chen Xiaoxing's Nephew
- Chen Jun - Master Chen Xiaowang's eldest son
- Chen Zhiqiang - Master Chen Xiaoxing's eldest son
- Chen Yingjun - Master Chen Xiaowang's second son
- Chen Zhijun - Master Chen Xiaoxing's second son
- Chen Guixiang - Master Chen Zhenlei's niece
- Chen Pengfei - Master Chen Xiaowangs's youngest son
- Chen Xiaoyan- Master Chen Xiaowang's youngest daughter
... Plus the other kids in the village and students from elsewhere.
Back in 2000, when I was living in Chen Village, the students number from about 20 during the quiet seasons, to about double that during the busiest times. About half the students are from the village and from the near by town of Wenxiang, whilst the others are from the rest of China and abroad. Overseas visitors often stay at Chen Xiaoxing's house, which has guest rooms with their own bathrooms, air conditioning and central heating - a far cry from what the locals have to make do with.
Since this article was first written, things have changed a lot. The Tai Chi school has a modern facility where visitors from overseas stay. There are now more than 100 full time students at the school, and the school has an academic teacher, so that the students can keep up will their academic studies.
Chen Xiaoxing’s nephew, Chen Bing, and his son, Chen Zhiqiang, as well as another coach from the village, Chen Guoqiang, take care of most of the teaching. You, as an overseas student, will be closely supervised by Chen Xiaoxing.
The school is used by other masters when they need some space to teach their students, and the back yard just won't do. Also, if a big enough coach load of tourists arrives, then all the masters get together to put a display on. It's a world away from the petty politics that goes on in the rest of the martial arts world.