Some of you might be thinking: Who are the people offering the online classes? Nabil Ranné and Konstantin Berberich founded the Chen-Style Taijiquan Network Germany in 2009/2010 to promote the Taijiquan in the lineage of our teacher Chen Yu. He has outstanding gongfu (Chinese for skill / martial skill) and learned Taijiquan in direct line from Chen Changxing (via Chen Gengyun and Chen Yanxi) to Chen Fake and Chen Zhaokui, his father.
Nabil is one of his few Western disciples and instructed many people, some of whom have also become trainers after diligent practice and some were already teachers before they started to learn in our lineage. But here we would like to add some info on those who came before us. Surely much has already been said about these famous teachers. But without their perseverance we wouldn't be able to teach this art, so they deserve the credits and so much more.
(14th generation of the Chen family)
Although Chen Changxing (chin. 陈长兴, 1771-1853) is one of the most famous martial artists in China, little is known about him and his life. In the family annals of the Chen clan from Chenjiagou he is mentioned as a martial arts teacher. In addition, his students - also those outside the family as renowned Yang Luchan, who is considered the founder of the Yang style - referred to him. The martial arts tradition of the Chen clan had already existed for several centuries in Chen Changxing's lifetime. He had protected trade caravans when he was younger and later opened a martial arts school in his hometown. Several theoretical texts on martial arts are attributed to him, including "Important words about martial applications" and "Ten essential statements on Taijiquan". Chen Changxing also merged the forms of Taijiquan founder Chen Wangting. Probably many shorter routines existed before and Chen Changxing arranged them in a somewhat new way. He thus developed the two routines that we still practice today. Chen Yu says: "The forms before Chen Changxing were very, very short. Chen Changxing has therefore combined these forms into two forms [...]. The content and the principle of the forms, however, have remained the same." Chen Changxing was the great-grandfather of Chen Fake.
(17th generation Chen family)
Chen Fake (Chinese 陈发科, 1887-1957), also known as Chen Fusheng, is considered to be one of the most outstanding representatives of the Chen clan Taijiquan in the 20th century. Even today he is being referred to as "the number one of Taijiquan". He is highly regarded as a role model because of his embodiment of Wude, the unity of martial arts and virtue. According to Chen Yu, Chen Fake perfected the gongfu frame in the last years of his life and then only passed it on to his son Chen Zhaokui. Shortly before his death he asked Chen Zhaokui to come over and he told him: "These methods were previously only taught in secret and never so finely and precisely outside of our family." The 83 form we teach goes back to this tradition and allows us to directly experience the martial arts practices and methods of the previous centuries. Thanks to his great skill, Chen Fake made the original Taijiquan of his family known to a greater public in Beijing.
Among his students were such prominent personalities as Chen Zhaokui, Chen Zhaoxu, Feng Zhiqiang, Gu Liuxin, Hong Junsheng, Lei Muni, Tian Xiuchen and many others, who later became famous for their Taijiquan skills.
(18th generation Chen family)
Chen Zhaokui (Chinese 陈照奎, 1928-1981) learned the Taijiquan of his father, Chen Fake, and was the most important representative of the big frame in the 18th generation of the Chen family. As early as 1932, at the age of four, he followed his father to Beijing and taught there, but also in other parts of China. He emphasized that since Chen Changxing his method had never been passed on outside the family in this detailed and precise way. His son Chen Yu accompanied him on his travels and studied intensively with him until his death. Chen Zhaokui returned three times in 1973, 1974 and 1978 to his birthplace of Chenjiagou in Henan Province (see biography). At the invitation of the village elders, he was asked to teach Taijiquan to the next generation. In the village the method of Chen Fake had never been experienced in this way and therefore they called it "new frame". Although the choreography is still being practiced there, the method of teaching the routines has been largely forgotten.
Chen Zhaokui's group of students includes many internationally known personalities. In Chenjiagou, for example, Chen Xiaowang, Chen Zhenglei, Zhu Tiancai, Wang Xian, Chen Dewang, Chen Suying, Chen Guizhen and Chen Chunai learned from him. In Zhengzhou it was Zhang Maozhen, Zhang Qilin, Zhang Zhijun and Hai Yuqing, in Shanghai Wan Wende, Du Wencai, Zhang Caigen and others. Chen Zhaokui attached great importance to the martial applications and of Taijiquan and it's practical usage. More on Chen Zhaokui's teaching methods can be found here.
(19th generation Chen family)
Chen Yu (chin. 陈瑜, born 1962) was born in Beijing in the Xuanwu district and is an outstanding representative of the 19th generation of the Chen clan. His family is from Chenjiagou, Henan Province. He teaches Taijiquan in the old family tradition and attaches great importance to the correct execution of the forms. He advises conscientious and intense training to develop combative, mental and health benefits in the practice. In Chinese martial arts circles he is highly valued for his impressive skills and his very special execution of the Chen clan Taijiquan. He lives in Beijing with his wife Zhang Yujie and son Chen Shiwu. He is the only child of Chen Zhaokui and the grandson of the legendary Chen Fake, who introduced the Taijiquan of the founding family in Beijing. At a young age he began to assist his father in teaching. Chen Yu's powerful forms and partner exercises have been precisely worked out and enable rapid progress with intensive training. His method is extraordinary and requires persistence, which is why it has been given the name "Taiji Gongfu", or the "Gongfu Frame of Chen-Clan Taijiquan".