It's February, and the winds from Siberia have arrived, bringing with it heavy snow fall and sub-zero temperatures.
Tai Chi (or taijiquan to be precise) is known for its graceful movements and health preserving effect. It has gained popularity in the west because it is the perfect antidote to today's stress filled modern lifestyle. Scratch beneath the surface, however, and will you will find a rich martial art with traditions that stretch back over hundreds of years, right into a China unchanged by contact with the west.
Hidden deep in Henan Province, Chen Village (Chenjiagou) is where all Tai Chi as we know it today comes from. Over 350 years ago, the Chen family formulated Tai Chi by combining Martial Arts with Chinese Medicine and deep breathing exercises. 11 generations latter their descendants still live and teach in the same village.
Tai Chi has become a way of life for these people. The local Tai Chi school is the very heart of the community, and 95% of the 2500 strong population know Tai Chi. Tai Chi teachers are also sent to the legendary Shaolin temple to teach the students there, some of whom latter become bodyguards. A huge number of master have been trained in Chen Village and the surrounding area, including:
- Yang Luchan (founder of Yang style, who's house in Chen Village still exists)
- Wu Yuxiang (founder of Wu style, who studied in Zhaobao Village, just around the corner)
. . . and of course all the masters from the Chen family in the past and today.