What is Chen Style Taijiquan?
Chen style Taijiquan was created by Chen Wangting, a seventeenth century royal guard from what is known today as Chenjiagou Village in Wenxian County, Henan Province. Shrouded in secrecy even in China until the early twentieth century, Chen Taijiquan is now practiced widely, not only in China and the Far East, but also throughout the Western world.
Historically, Chen Taijiquan was developed as an eclectic fighting system incorporating many of the most effective techniques from the famous Ming General Qi Jiguang's Canon of Boxing. Inspired by Qi's military text, Chen Wangting created five Taijiquan routines; a Changquan (Long Boxing) routine consisting of one hundred and eight forms; and a Paocui (Cannon Fist) routine.
Before the invention of firearms, the purpose and attitude of martial arts was serious, as the security of country, village, community, family and individual depended on it. Survival was its foremost purpose, not the health, meditative or aesthetic qualities, although practitioners did derive considerable health benefits as a by-product of the art. Successive generations of Chen family boxers earned their livelihood acting as escorts for rich merchants transporting valuables through the surrounding provinces. Faced with many challenges and dangers, their skills were developed to an extraordinarily high level. Many legends have been recorded of their exploits, which serve as an inspiration to the present generation. Not only does the art help to develop martial capabilities but it contains a host health benefits derived from the principles of yin and yang.
Taiji (tai chi) is a name derived from the concept of yin and yang founded in Chinese medicine, philosophy and culture. The yin yang symbol depicts 2 polar opposites that when in constant motion creates a dynamic, balanced and integrated whole. In the traditional Chen Taiji yin yang symbol you can see this mutual interaction but with the fundamental component of inner stillness and peace. Much like the eye of the hurricane, which is the calmest portion but the origin of power. In physical application, taiji movements aim to integrate yin and yang within our body. Harmonizing the right and left, the upper and lower, the inner and outer in conjunction with breath and stillness of the mind. The fundamental goal of these exercises is to improve and enhance nervous system response and circulation of energy and blood. This in turn creates balance and improved communication between the 5 major organs (lung, liver, heart, kidney, spleen/pancreas) as well as consistent flow within the organs of elimination. On a more subtle level, taiji develops social and physical inter-personal relationships. The art has an innate ability to sensitize you to the nature of hard and soft, slow and fast, along with the emotional manifestations to those energies. When one understands the cues associated with aggression, passivity, strength and weakness it becomes easier to neutralize, redirect or flow with these actions.
The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at UCSF, has a research database with over 400 clinical studies on the health benefits of taiji. This research includes compelling data that taiji can improve aspects of balance, cardiovascular health, the immune system, sleep and physiological well-being.
CHEN TAIJI LINEAGE
Grandmaster Zhu Tiancai's birthplace is in China, Henan, Chenjiagou. He is the 19th generation disciple of the Chen Family Taijiquan. He started learning from Grandmaster Chen Zhaopi and Grandmaster Chen Zhaokui from a very young age. Having great passion and love for the martial art and under strict guidance from the two Grandmasters, Grandmaster Zhu Tiancai has perfectly mastered Chen Taijiquan. His display of Chen Taijiquan is described as "smooth flowing" and "softness," giving people watching the routine a beautiful and relaxed feeling.
With over fifty years of teaching experience, Grandmaster Zhu has compiled a set of teaching methodologies useful for both beginners and professionals. The art can be practiced as a form of basic exercise for health improvement and in the advanced stages can also be used as a defensive martial art.
Grandmaster Zhu has been traveling around the world teaching and imparting the art of Chen Taijiquan. His teaching is well known and received by international Wushu and Taiji organizations. His students are numerous and Grandmaster Zhu was honored as one of the four "Arhats" of Chen Taijiquan. He is also an international Chen Taijiquan Instructor.
Master Kam Lee has been practicing Chinese martial arts since 1973 and has been teaching and sharing this timeless discipline in Jacksonville and Orange Park since the early 1990s. He founded his second school in Fleming Island in 2006 and is currently the presiding Acupuncture Physician and Master Instructor in the center. Kam is a 20th generation Chen Family lineage holder (12th Generation Tai Chi) under the tutelage of Grandmaster Zhu Tiancai (Henan, China) as well as a 4th generation Wuzuquan Kung Fu practitioner (Singapore) Conferred a 7th Degree Black Belt by the United States Southern Shaolin Wuzuquan Federation in 2006, he is also a gold medalist in the International Jiaozuo Open Taijiquan Championships in 2007 and 2011.
Originating from a humble background from an ‘old school’ system, Master Lee has successfully brought the art from across the ocean to share its qualitative values with his fellow students. Based on his in-depth martial arts experiences, he has further improvised the teaching of the art efficiently for his students to train with results. As a veteran Chief Judge in the National Chinese Martial Arts Tournaments for more than fifteen years, Kam has taught workshops and performed in numerous Master’s demonstrations in the United States and abroad. His open, friendly and practical instructions has produced many top gold medalists and has helped many students achieve a high level of understanding and performance in their martial art skills.
Lao Shi Nick Kusturic started studying martial arts at the age of 7. Under the instruction of Grandmaster Jae Hwa-kwon in NYC, Nick earned his black belt in Tae Kwon-Do. Influenced by martial arts culture from an early age, he was exposed to many styles leading him to study Choy Lay Fut with Master Chan Tai San and later with Master Li Siu Hung of the Lee Koon Hung Choy Lay Fut school in South Florida. In 1998, Nick was attending the Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine pursuing a degree in Acupuncture and Herbal medicine. It was here that he was introduced to the 3 harmonies of internal martial arts; xingyi, bagua and taiji. The philosophy and study of the internal arts was deeply intriguing as it introduced elements of Chinese medicine. He actively began studying Xing yi quan and Chen Manching's 37 Postures which still holds a great influence on his current practice.
It wasn't until he met Grandmaster Zhu Tiancai at a seminar held by Sifu Florin Szondi and Sifu Kam Lee, that his journey in Chen Taiji began. In 2011 and 2013, Nick spent time studying at Grandmaster Zhu's school in Chen Village, the birthplace of Taijiquan. In 2011 he competed in the 6th International Taijiquan competition in Jiaozou City. He won 2 gold medals and had the privilege of performing in the closing ceremonies. Nick is currently teaching Chen Taiji at the Ballet Conservatory in downtown Asheville.
Chen Tai chi
Qigong is self-initiated health and wellness practice consisting of a combination of movement, self-massage, meditation, and breathing. The practice puts the body into what Harvard University's Herbert Benson MD calls the relaxation response, where the autonomic nervous system is shifted towards the parasympathetic or calm state mode.
The Relax-Regenerate Technique is system of exercises designed to enhance the inner and outer perceptions of the body (skin sensations, heart beat, nervous system tension, posture, balance, energy circulation). Through extremely subtle movements in coordination with breath and visualizations, the vibrations of the skeletal structure, or piezoelectrical activity is increased. These vibrations originate from the crystalline structure of bone and enhance our physiological processes, most obviously metabolism, mood and energy. The technique also increases salivary production and in turn releases factors that improve immune system response. The RR technique introduces qigong, breathing, muscle contraction and release exercises and acupoint tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) to alter imbalanced energy patterns that lead to anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.
Research by the Harvard Medical School and others has demonstrated that the practice of Qigong positively affects gene expression, the immune system, nervous system, and cellular function allowing cells to live longer -- true "anti-aging" and the legendary "fountain of youth". Qigong promotes gene transcription for stress reduction and improvement of immune function. The scientific basis of Qigong is explained in part through epigenetics (cell biology), psychoneuroimmunology (neuroscience) and gene expression.
Other benefits of Qigong practice:
increased delivery of oxygen and nutrition to the tissue
increasing cellular metabolism
managing pain and mood
reducing heart rate and blood pressure
facilitating relaxation and mental focus.
Qigong can be done anywhere, anytime. It can be practiced while sitting, standing, moving, not moving, or lying down. It is excellent for stress reduction, prevention of illness, dealing with chronic illness, healthy and active aging, and longevity.