Chen Fa-Ke

Chen Fa-Ke

Chen Fa-Ke picture

Chen Fa-Ke

Perhaps the best known taijiquan master of the Chen system in the 20th century is Chen Fa-Ke Chen Fa-Ke. His high level of skill has been recounted by many who knew him well. He is remembered for his dilegent practice, performing at least 30 sets of boxing a day, as well as 300 repetitions of "pole shaking" exercises.

In 1928 he travelled to Beijing at the request of Chen Zhao-Pei, his nephew. He established a name for himself, defeating a number of noted martial artists. As a result of this, Chen family Taijiquan became well known.

As a growing number of people came to learn taijiquan out of admiration for him, Chen Fa-Ke, at his students' urging, set up the Zhongzhou Wushu Centre in Beijing's Xuanwumen District. Among the applicants were even skilled wushu masters, including Liu Rui-Zhi, Tang Hao, Li Jing-Wu, Gu Liu-Xin and Feng Zhi-Qiang.

Chen Fa-Ke never had the chance to go to school, but he was an honest and tolerant person. His simplicity and uprightness won him great respect from his disciples. Although held in high esteem as a great taijiquan master, Chen Fa-Ke never belittled other schools.

When his disciples asked him what kind of wushu was the best, his invariable answer was that all schools, taijiquan included, are good so long as they have survived the tests of time; otherwise they would have long been eliminated.

Chen Fa-Ke
Chen Fa-Ke

He believed that whether a school of wushu is good or bad depends to a large extent on the way of teaching and learning. At the beginning, it is the teacher who has the primary role to play and a good teacher should have a good knowledge of what he is teaching and he should be able to point out the correct way to learn for his students. As for who will learn faster, it all depends on the learners themselves.

Chen's words have been taken by his followers as a maxim that one should always be modest and draw on the strong points of different schools. Before he breathed his last, Chen Fa-Ke exhorted his son Chen Zhao-Kui and Feng Zhi-Qiang to practise wushu diligently and learn the strong points of other styles of wushu with an open mind so as to continually enrich the Chen-style taijiquan. It remains a great regret today that many of his wushu theories and routines were not collated and published.


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e-mail: taiji@chebucto.ca

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