Zhaobao He Style Tai Chi
(pronunciation note: “He” style is pronounced with a soft “e” as in “her”)
A rare style of Tai Chi is called He style taijiquan or Zhaobao He style.
This style was created by He Zhaoyuan (1810-90), who learned from Chen Qingping.
He style is known as “circle fist” due to its use of spirals and circles within circles.
Here is a video of He style taijiquan.
The following information was provided today, courtesy of Steve Gilshenen, who teaches He Tai Chi Chuan in Japan.
He Zhaoyuan (1810-1890)
He Zhaoyuan was came from a family with a tradition in Chinese Medicine. He was born in Zhaobao Town*, Wenxian County, Henan Province, China.
In 1825 he became a student of Zhaobao Tai Chi under the instruction of Chen Qingping, the towns Martial Arts Teacher. He attained great skill, which earned him an appointment to the Military Post of Wuxinlang in the Capital. During his posting he performed duties as a Body Guard while travelling to the Far North and the South, encountering bandits and robbers. Many legendary stories of his skill are still widely known in Zhaobao Town.
While in the Capital, his fellow student, Li Tangjie, advised him to reform Taijiquan. He increased his own skills tremendously and developed an original style that would be called He Style Tai Chi Chuan.
Upon returning to his hometown of Zhaobao, He Zhaoyuan’s Teacher, Chen Qingping, asked him to demonstrate what he had learned while away. After seeing the incredible skill his student had achieved he said “I am really amazed that you have worked so hard during these few years while you were in the Capital. Your skills in Martial Arts have surpassed mine. From now on you can start your own style and call it He Style Tai Chi Chuan.”
Following this, Chen Qingping’s own teacher, Zhang Yian, returned home from Shandong and He Zhaoyuan went to visit him. After demonstrating his Tai Chi Chuan, Zhang Yian said “I’m very old now, yet I haven’t seen any Martial Arts or Fist Form as good as this. Your Martial Arts skills have reached the highest peak. A wonderful flower has blossomed in the Tai Chi garden of our town”.
HISTORY OF HE TAI CHI CHUAN
As He Tai Chi Chuan is a branch of Zhaobao Tai Chi Chuan, we share common ancestors up to Chen Qingping, starting with Zhang Sanfeng. Wang Zhong Yue passed his knowledge learned from Zhang Sanfeng to Jiang Fa (Wang Zhong Yue is also believed to be the Teacher of Chen Wangting, the creator of Chen Tai Chi Chuan), who lived in a small village named Xiaoliu, several kilometres from Zhaobao Town. He is the First Generation of Zhaobao Tai Chi Chuan.
Jiang Fa’s Teacher told him to teach only worthy students and after much display of honesty and sincerity, Xing Xihuai proved himself and became the Second Generation. He passed his skill onto his sworn brother, Zhang Zichen. Chen Jiangbuo, of Zhaobao Town, learned from Zhang Zichen and eventually broke the confinement set by Wang Zhongyue and enrolled many students. One of his students was fellow Zhaobao native, Zhang Zhongyue, who became the Fifth Generation of Zhaobao Tai Chi Chuan. Zhang Zhongyue’s Grandson, Zhang Yian, inherited Zhaobao Tai Chi Chuan and became famous as a Swordsman, defeating an evil monk in Caoxian County. It was he who passed the skills onto Chen Qingping. Yang Luchan, creator of Yang Tai Chi Chuan, wrote in his book: “I learned Taijiquan from Chen Changxiu in Chenjiagou Villiage but I mastered it from Chen Qingping in Zhaobao Town”. He Zhaoyuan was one of Chen Qingping’s key students.
He Zhaoyuan taught his sons He Jingzhi and He Renzhi as well as his Grandson, He Qingxi.
He Qingxi (1857-1936) was extremely kind and had exceptional skill. Due to the turbulent times he was unable to pass on his skill until later in life, when he passed it to Cheng Wuqing. Another of He Qingxi’s students was his son, He Xuexin, whose Grandson, He Youlu, is the current representative of He Tai Chi Chuan and Director of He Style Taijiquan Institute in Wenxian County.
Cheng Wuqing moved to Xi’an in 1938 and taught He Tai Chi Chuan in the 7th Branch of Huang Pu Military Academy. A student of his was Ji Changxiu, who would move to Hong Kong and later receive permission from her teacher to teach He Tai Chi Chuan.
Ji Changxiu has taught students from many countries, further spreading He Tai Chi Chuan. One of her students, Henry Murray, received permission to teach He Tai Chi Chuan in Australia and became my teacher. It was he who gave me permission to teach He Tai Chi Chuan in Japan.
CHARACTERISTICS OF HE TAI CHI CHUAN
He Tai Chi Chuan is well known for its circles within circles and for the speed with which it is usually practiced. It is somewhat faster than what is commonly seen in other styles of Tai Chi Chuan. There are Three Frames in which He Tai Chi Chuan is practiced, each for differing purposes.
- The basic training method is called the “Middle Frame”. The movements are learned in this frame to ensure accuracy.
- Small Frame is a more “natural” and easier Frame. Circles become smaller and transitions become as if walking.
- Large Frame is a much more challenging Frame, employing deeper stances and bigger movements. This is the Frame used for learning Combat Applications.
Thanks again to Steve Gilshenen for this rare information.
Share this page