Chen Wangting

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Chen Wangting
Statue of Chen Wangting
Chen Village, Henan, China
Died1660 (aged 79–80)
Other namesChen Zouting
StyleChen-style tai chi
(founder of Chen-style)
Notable studentsChen Suole (陳所樂)
Chen Ruxin (陳汝信)
Chen Wangting
Chen Zouting

Chen Wangting (1580–1660), courtesy name Chen Zouting, was a Ming dynasty officer who may have founded Chen-style tai chi, one of the five major styles of the popular Chinese martial art. He reputedly devised his style of tai chi after his retirement following the fall of the Ming dynasty.

Military career[edit]

During the Ming dynasty, Chen served as Commander of the Wen County garrison, and was distinguished for his protection of merchant caravans in Henan and Shandong.[1] After the Ming dynasty ended and the reign of the Qing dynasty began, Chen's military career was effectively over, and he retired to the family settlement.

Influence on tai chi[edit]

Whether or not Chen invented the earliest form of tai chi is in dispute. Traditional folklore and many lineages name the semi-mythical figure of Zhang Sanfeng, a Taoist monk, as the progenitor of the art.

Two widely documented theories of Chen's martial arts work exist: the first is that he learnt his arts from Wang Zongyue and the Wudang tradition developed by Zhang Sanfeng.[2] The second theory — the one accepted by the Chen family, and supported by historical evidence[3] — is that he combined his previous military experience and the theories of meridians and Daoyin with the popular teachings of Qi Jiguang.[4] His complete work contained five smaller sets of forms, a 108-move Long Fist[note 1] routine, and a Cannon Fist routine. Chen is also credited with the invention of the first push hands exercises.[1] Chen also practiced a few Shaolin forms, and some historians postulate that Shaolin arts also had a significant influence on his tai chi, though none of the Taoist influences on Chen family tai chi exist in the Shaolin tradition.[2][page needed]

Chen Wangting's next well-known successor was the 14th generation Chen Changxing (1771–1853), who was the direct teacher of the founder of Yang-style tai chi: Yang Luchan.

Tai chi lineage tree with Chen-style focus[edit]


  1. ^ "Long" as in "Continuous"; not to be confused with the external martial art also known as Long Fist or Changquan.


  1. ^ a b Gaffney, David; Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim (2001). Chen style taijiquan. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-55643-377-1.
  2. ^ a b Kiew Kit, Wong (2002). The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan: A Comprehensive Guide to the Principles and Practice. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8048-3440-7.
  3. ^ Henning, Stanley (1994). "Ignorance, Legend and Taijiquan". Journal of the Chen Style Taijiquan Research Association of Hawaii. 2 (3). Archived from the original on 2010-01-01. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
  4. ^ Guang Yi, Ren (2003). Taijiquan: Chen Taiji 38 Form and Applications. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8048-3526-8.