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First it must be made clear that Taijiquan was developed by a retired soldier, a fighter who had knowledge of martial arts as well as Chinese medicinal and cultivational practices. It was primarily developed as a martial art practice with the intention of making the best use of the human body's cultivational facility while practicing. It originally was not developed with the idea of giving old people a method of moving slowly in the morning to alleviate arthritis although it can be used that way.
Taiji quan is over 300 years old as a system and takes its roots from further back. the system was developed in northern central China by a retired general (or some sort of soldier official) Named Chen Wang Ting, who had a great and broad martial arts skill. He Mixed his vast skill with ancient Daoist and Buddhist breathing and meditation methods as well as traditional medicinal theory and Qi gong.
Chen Wangting, Ninth Generation member of the Chen Family, served as a professional soldier for the Ming Dynasty fighting rebel forces. He was exposed to a variety of battlefield martial arts, which were more important militarily before the gun appeared on the battlefield. Despite his background and perseverance, in 1644, Chen ended up on the losing side. Rebel forces began to gain an upper hand, and soon thereafter the Ming Dynasty fell. It is then that Chen Wangting likely retreated to Chen Village and developed the comprehensive martial art and internal training system we now call Chen Style Taijiquan.
A third branch was headed up by another fourteenth generation member of the Chen family named Chen Youheng. Chen Youheng developed what many see as the first New Frame of the style. This New Frame was not a watering down of Chen style by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, it was viewed as an even more martial rendering of the style adapting to the ever changing face of military hand-to-hand combat. This approach was exemplified by his offspring, Chen Jishen and Chen Zhongshen who were recognized as warriors who successfully stood up to the Taiping rebels during the reign of the Emperor Hsien Feng. Some accounts credit Chen Zhongshen specifically with adding further developments of a "Big Style" that emphasized a martial prowess, and made the style more practical and adaptable to battlefield considerations.
Henan and its neighboring North China provinces of Hebei, Shandong, and Shanxi were home to a strong martial tradition, for a variety of historical and social reasons. First, they lay in the path of repeated waves of barbarian invasions from the north, the latest of which ruled from Beijing as the Manchu, or Qing (Ching), dynasty. Second, the area was riven by clan and sectarian rivalries which often turned violent. Third, the region was rife with banditry and crime. Barriers to class mobility and the practices of polygamy and female infanticide had created a huge surplus of destitute, single, and alienated young men; to many of them, the attractions of a swashbuckling life of crime and pillage proved irresistible.
(1887-1957), seventeenth generation descendant of Chen clan, famous Chen style Taijiquan master, Chen Chan Xing's Great grandson. Chen became famous in his hometown for victories in lei tai (free fighting) competitions held in the county and for defeating opponents armed with spear and sabre while Chen stood barehanded(after he rejected the post offered to him by Han Fuju, local warlord). In 1929 , through Chen Zhaopi's recommendation , Chen Fa Ke left Chenjiagou and went to Beiping (today's Beijing) to teach Taijiquan . Very modest, used to say about himself "No Good" and for this reason became known as "Chen No Good". Many times challenged by martial arts practioners (including Bagua and Chinese wrestling experts) , defeated them in great style, without hurting anybody