The Small Frame of Chen Clan Taijiquan

Chen Shi Taijiquan Xiaojia

Taijiquan has a wide range of forms and variations. The name of a particular practice usually indicates which school it belongs to: Chen, Zhaobao, Huleijia, Yang, Wu, Wu-Hao-Stil, Sun, etc. Although the exact history of the origins and development of what is known today as Taijiquan is still shrouded in mystery (especially with regard to the early content and methods of practice, as well as interactions with other martial artists and styles of martial arts), it is nevertheless considered certain that Chen Wangting (c. 1600-1680), 9th generation Chen clan, played a central role in it. The Chen Clan Taijiquan developed in Chenjiaguo in Henan Province from him as a real and symbolic key figure.

Within the Chen clan, various forms of Chen Taijiquan have gradually developed over several generations. The beginning of this differentiation is usually associated with the work of Chen Youben (1780-1858). The differences that arose concern the composition of the form or taolu (the images/positions contained in it, as well as their number and sequence) and the way in which it is performed (more active, moving, opening or more calm and compact), but also the underlying theories and concepts (dam area, hip movement, power transmission, etc.) and practical combat applications. The families that developed and continued these styles differ in terms of their genealogy and the distribution of their residences in Chenjiaguo.

The two main branches are now referred to as 'Big Frame' (Dajia) and 'Small Frame' (Xiaojia). Although it is not yet clear exactly when these terms became common (probably not until the late 1930s), they do reflect an actual differentiation within Chen Taijiquan. A further subdivision or naming into 'Old Frame' (Laojia) and 'New Frame' (Xinjia), whereby the 'Small Frame' is sometimes confused with the 'New Frame', is, however, clearly of more recent origin and cannot be historically proven.

Chen Xin (1849-1929) represents a significant milestone in the history of the development line that was later to be called the 'Small Frame'. His work 'Graphic Explanations of the Taijiquan of the Chen Clan' (Chen Shi Taijiquan Tushuo) has been received and praised for its profundity by Taijiquan experts of all styles since its publication in 1933.

Du Yuze
Du Yuze

Chen Xin had learnt his skills from his father Chen Zhongshen (1809-1871) and his brother Chen Jishen (1809-1865), who were themselves renowned as outstanding representatives of the tradition. At the latest since this time, the Small Frame Taijiquan has therefore existed in its practical and theoretical form, which has been preserved to this day.

The line of Chen Xin leads to three further generations (Chen Chunyuan, Chen Honglie, Chen Liqing & Chen Lixian) and finally to Chen Peishan (born 1962) and Chen Peijiu (born 1965), the chairmen of the 'International Society of Chen Taijiquan' (ISCT) and the lineage heads of the Small Frame Chen Clan Taijiquan practised in the 'Gesellschaft zur Praxis und Erforschung des Kleinen Rahmen Chen Clan Taijiquan e.V.'.