Chen Village Tai Chi Chuan


When you enter Chen village, you are struck by how unremarkable it is. Set in the remote China countryside surrounded by farmland, it appears to offer little. Except for one fact. Out of a population of 3,000 some 2,500 practice Tai Chi Chuan. In China it is known simply as Taiji village and is the birthplace of Tai Chi Chuan. It is then you realize just how remarkeable Chen Village really is.



Like most of rural China, Chen village suffered badly during the cultural revolution and today, it is still a poor village populated mostly by farmworkers. Yet as the birthplace of Tai Chi Chuan it is one of the most significant locations in Martial Arts. Although only 3,000 villagers live here, 2,500 practice Tai Chi Chuan. “I’ve been here a long time now and I’ve met people from all over the world in this little village in the middle of Hunan, China” says Joseph, a student from the UK…”and they’ve all got something in common, they’re all interested in Tai Chi.”

The Chen family, standard bearers of Chen style for 400 years, continue to teach Tai Chi Chuan at the school in the center of the village. Chen style was at an all time low until fairly recently and although most of the villagers practice, outside China, the Chen style was not popular. Chen Xiaoxing who heads the Chen school says “Nothing worked well until the school was trensferred to me privately … we may not be as big as Shaolin temple but we average 200 students every day.” Outside China, Chen Tai chi has spread rapidly due to the elder brother Chen Xiaowang, 19th generation lineage holder of Chen Taijiquan. Today, Chen Xiaowang teaches at Chen Tai Chi at schools all over the world and returns to Chen Village only for seminars and induction of new disciples. Chen Xiaoxing prefers to stay in Chen village and run the school. He famously stated – “I really have no need to leave Chenjiagou. Everything I need is here.” In the village more schools have now opened due to Chen’s rise in popularity, the largest is run by Chen Bing. “In teaching in America and Europe and talking to students who wanted to stay in Chen Village,” says Bing, “I know they needed a school with better facilities.” Adds Chen Xiaowang, “The conditions in our day were very bad and life was unstable but now the conditions are much better.”

In this intimate journey to Chen village we discover how the present generations of the family have rescued the Chen style from obscurity and why every year thousands of Tai chi students from all over the world make the long pilgrimage to a small village in rural China. Hear the stories from the students own words of living and training in the village and although they are not expected to farm or work in the fields, they are expected to live like anyone else does in rural China … very hard and very tough! ”Training here improves your Tai Chi so much” says student Daryl from Seattle… “it’s like going to the source, back to the well where the water is sweeter.” Joseph adds “Just by being here you imbibe a lot of knowledge of Tai Chi because of the environment.” All the while the documentary it is set to a backdrop of the school Tai Chi classes taught by Chen Xiaoxing and Chen Xiaowang with Chen Ziqiang, the school coach. As we approach our dramatic ending with an induction of new disciples, John a teacher from the UK says “It was the most important day of my life. Chen Xiaowang told me you are now part of the family, if you lose balance come back here and we will take care of you.”

As our journey unfolds, you will realize just how remarkable Chen village and its people really are. For an in-depth review of Chen Village please read Journal of Martial Arts Review.

Chen Village is a must see for all Tai Chi enthusiasts. Once again John Braeley has done it by going to the right place, the home of Chen Tai Chi and interviewing and filming the genuine top masters.In addition it has the graduation ceremony of some of the students of the Chen style. Chen Village is not a flashy production but shows the village and people simply as they are and that is what I wanted to see.
Stan Chun. 20.07.2017.

Empty Mind Films have devoted substantial time and effort to documenting the Chinese martial arts. Chen Village is a classic. It is mandatory viewing for anyone interested in Chinese martial studies or the state of Taiji today. I would not hesitate to use that film in a university level classroom.
Kungfu Tea Magazine. 01.12.2014.

I recently watched Chen Village, The Zen Mind and Masters of Heaven and earth, not once but many times. They all encompass the very essence of these arts. Beautifully filmed and narrated that make riveting viewing.
Terra Rosa. Australia. 09.19.2013.

This is a great film to watch. It is interesting and you get to see a bit of life in the village as well as some excellent taichi demonstrations, particularly by Chen Bing. The film is, however, very focused on Chen Xiaowang. Nevertheless, it is a great and very well made video that gives a great glimpse into life in Chen Village and tai chi there.
Rami L. Eierwock. 10.06.2014.

Being a Chen Taijiquan student it was amazing to see what the people in Chen Village go through on a daily basis. We here in the western world think we work hard at taijiquan but it is nothing compared to what they go through. 5 Stars!
Adrian M Bagayas. 05.01.2011.

This village, this place, this sanctuary is amazing. This documentary has captured something totally unique and irreplacible in human endeavors. An art, a science, and a spiritual path that almost disappeared under the communist and other repressive regimes. Until somehow, these regimes recognized the true value of their “National Treasure”.
C. Palmer, USA. 09.27.2010.

Chen Village’ is a heartfelt testament to the famed Chen martial arts family in China – the creators of Taijiquan. Shot on location, largely during the acceptance of a variety of Westerners as ‘disciples’ of the Chen Taiji patriarch, Chen Xiaowang, this quite historical film uniquely profiles today’s leading Chen village masters. Things to not miss:
– The profile of a non-Chen woman who’s lovely form belies her true age
– Chen Xiaoxing recalling early how the art was passed down
– Chen Bing performing fantastic “New Frame Cannon Fist”
– Chen Xiaowang’s commentary on the (small, yet interesting) differences between foreign and Chinese students
– Emotional testimony from a British disciple
Chen Village is essential viewing for anyone deeply involved in traditional Chinese martial arts.
Stephan Berwick. 18.02.2010.

What a find! I am thinking of visiting Chen Village next year and when I found this video, I had to get it. It gives a nice introduction to the history of the village and the interviews were good.
Stephen. 27.11.2009.

For an in-depth review of Chen Village please read Journal of Martial Arts Review.

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