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The Road Back -- Keeping My Eyes on the Prize

New DVD Documentary on the Chen Village featuring Chen Xiaowang and Chen Xiaoxing


I'm really glad to see this DVD--Chen Village--on the market by director Jon Braeley. It's a close-up look at the Chen Village, the birthplace of tai chi.

If you didn't know better, you might think the place where tai chi was created 350 years ago would be a very spiritual place, with elaborate buildings and your mind might take you to a Hollywood-type setting.

In fact, the Chen Village is very poor and rural, with virtually nothing to offer except the best tai chi in the world. The people work the land, and most of them practice tai chi. It's eye-opening and surprising to see how poor the area really is, and it gives you even more respect for the Chen family, who has worked at tai chi and refined it over centuries to the point where they are now teaching around the world.

In this documentary, you'll see the courtyard where they still practice -- the place where Yang Luchan, a servant of the Chen family in the 19th Century, watched in secret and then practiced on his own. Non-family members were not allowed to learn the art, but when they caught him practicing and noticed he had skill, he was taught. When he left Chen Village, he was told he could not teach Chen tai chi, so he developed his own style. He taught his Yang style to the Imperial Family but they were lazy so he watered it down, and that weaker version is what most Americans think is tai chi.

I have studied with both of the masters featured in this DVD. Chen Xiaowang and Chen Xiaoxing, both brothers and descendants of Chen Wangting, are shown in their home town performing tai chi. Chen Xiaowang is the standard-bearer for his generation. His younger brother Chen Xiaoxing is my age, and he is content to stay at home running the Chen Village tai chi school (I was certified as an instructor in 2005 through Chen Xiaoxing). 

This documentary will show you the real thing as it's still practiced. I ordered the Chen Village DVD today and can't wait to give it a more full review next week.


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