Why Taijiquan:

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Click to view larger image With Grandmaster Chen, Zhenglei after a private lesson in the home of Master Jesse Tsao, San Diego, California. November, 2005

Welcome to Gary McClellan's Chen Style Taijiquan page.

I began my study of Chen style taijiquan in July 2000, with Patrick Martin, a Chen Stylist who lives and teaches in Flagstaff Arizona. In 1988, Patrick had traveled to Chenjiagou Village, China, and learned the original Chen family taijiquan from Grandmaster Chen, Zhenglei. With Sifu Patrick Martin, Flagstaff Arizona, December 2005. Click to view
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Having survived all the Y2K computer updates, rewrite, and replacement projects I'd been involved with, studying and practicing a martial art that results in centering, balance and internal energy seemed like a good idea. After six years, I can honestly say that of the many pursuits I've followed in my life, Taiji generates constant pay back for the energy I put into it.

I'd been interested in Taiji since 1969, when I saw Taiji being practiced in the various green spaces that exist throughout Kowloon and Hong Kong. Over the years, I'd explored a few books and video tapes but there never seemed to be an opportunity to make the necessary time to learn one of the forms..

Other interests I had that paralleled Taiji were Akido, but classes were interrupted by my work schedule and traveling throughout the U.S. installing computer systems. My interest in Akido was aimed at gaining a practical understanding of "going with the flow", rather then learning a "punch now, relax later" martial art. For mental balance, I'd read and studied the I Ching since 1970 for a philosophical understanding of "going with the flow", i.e, according with the Tao, and practiced Transcendental Meditation, off and on, since approximately 1985/86. TM was a very calm way to relax, center, focus, and release mental stress, but lacked the physical aspect.

I also enjoying doing historical fencing with rapier and dagger for exercise and simply because it was fun. Historical rapier combat, at least in my view, has a required mental component for strategy and tactics rather than just a reliance on speed and athletics. I've always enjoyed hiking, kayaking, and sailing as a method of relaxing as well, but something was still missing.

So that's why I'm very happy to be practicing Chen Taijiquan since it gives me "one-stop shopping" for all my needs/wants. For me, Taiji practice delivers meditation, exercise, martial arts skills, relaxation, balance, reduced stress, better health, and pure physical enjoyment in that doing the forms actually feel good. The increased flexibility and joint mobility is a welcome plus, as well

Depending on how much available time I have on any given day, I do several of the following routines.

Forms and Postures:

  • Health Preserving Qigong routines from Grandmaster Chen, Zhenglei.

  • Chen Taiji Silk Reeling (Chan Si Gong) exercises as taught by Grandmaster Chen, Xiaowang and Grandmaster Chen, Zhenglei.

  • Grandmaster Chen, Zhenglei's Essential 18 Form
    18 Form list of postures.
    My 18 Form demonstration video.

  • Laojia Yi Lu (Chen old frame, first routine)
    Laojia Yi Lu list of postures

  • Laojia Er Lu (Chen old frame, second routine)

  • Chen Single Broadsword (dao) routine.
    Broadsword routine list of postures

  • Chen family traditional short staff routine created by Chen, Shen-Pu.
    Short staff list of postures.

Workshop, Classes and Events I've Attended:

Chen style beginning, intermediate and advanced ongoing classes with Sifu Patrick Martin, July 2000 onward, Flagstaff, AZ

Chen style silk reeling (Chan Si Gong) two day workshop with Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang, September 2001, Phoenix, AZ.

Laojia Yi Lu two day workshop with Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei, November 2003, San Diego, CA.

Laojia Er Lu two day workshop with Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei, November 2005, San Diego, CA.

Two day Certificate workshop with Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei, during the International Forum on Taijiquan 2006, Thunder Bay, Canada, July 2006.

Grandmaster Panel Adjudication with Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei, during the International Forum on Taijiquan 2006 , Thunder Bay, Canada, July 2006.

Laojia Yi Lu / Er Lu two day certificate workshop with Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei, December 2006, San Diego, CA.

So How Do I Learn Chen Style Taijiquan?:

If you live in the Flagstaff, Arizona area, getting started is easy. Northern Arizona University offers Taijiquan classes taught by Patrick Martin.

If you live outside of Flagstaff, look for qualified Taijiquan instructors in your local area, but your best choice would be to see if any of the Chen Masters considered to be the "Four Tigers of Chen Village", (Masters Chen Zhenglei, Chen Xiao Wang, Zhu Tiancai, and Wang Zian) will be holding workshops within traveling distance of your location. Look for a Silk Reeling workshop to start with, or a workshop defined as "suitable for all levels". Attending a workshop by a Chen Master will provide you with a solid introduction and the fundamentals needed for the practice of Chen Style Taijiquan.

There are many books and DVD's available that will introduce you to the practice of Chen Style Taijiquan. Trying to teach yourself from scratch, however, is limiting. You are certain to develop bad habits that will be hard to break later on, and most importantly, miss out on a solid understanding of the basic Chen Style principles that must be applied consistently throughout the various Chen bare hand and weapons forms. You need to learn from a qualified instructor who can guide you in learning and applying the Chen Style principles to your practice, and correct mistakes you might make early on.

For those in areas without available instructors, however, DVDs and books may be your only source of information. If this is your situation, Northern Arizona University's UniversityHouse channel on the DISH Network offers Beginning Tai Chi with Patrick Martin. Patrick's six part video series covers the fundamental movements and philosophies of taijiquan and is a good introduction to Tai Chi principles and Chen Style silk reeling movements.

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Last update: Aug 16, 2006