Chen Tai Chi is not the oldest Tai Chi

Many Chen Tai Chi practitioners claim that Chen Tai Chi is the oldest Tai Chi. Compared to the Tai Chi styles which were around before 1988 this was not so far off. Chen Tai Chi is considered to have Buddhist influence, while Wudang Tai Chi is based on Taoist teachings.

The following article is written on facts from conversations with Taoists from the Wudang mountains:

The oldest Tai Chi form on earth considered by the Wudang Taoists is Wudang Sanfeng Tai Chi 13, followed by the Wudang Sanfeng Tai Chi 108 form.

Why was this not discovered sooner?

  • Wudangshan was previously called Tai He Shan, the name was different and the Taoists were all killed by the Chinese republic revolution. Most of their temples and books were burned.
  • The Taoist monasteries before 1988 (Source: Zhong Yunlong) had strict rules and were not available for outsiders. The first documented Taoist monasteries appeared in the year 142. The actual origin is estimated at the late 4th century BCE. This makes Taoist tradition much older and the connection between the Taoist Tai Chi practice make this origin almost undoubtedly.

Why would Taoist tradition connect to the origin of Tai Chi?

Taoists always wanted to improve life. The oldest documented form for longevity is called Ba Duan Jin (Eight Brocade) Qi Gong which Taoist influence is documented at 1300. The actual origin of this Qi Gong is estimated at 1150. Posture, Breathing, Intention and Concentration were equally trained in Ba Duan Jin and built a perfect foundation for the Tai Chi principles we know today.

The birth of internal Tai Chi Quan

The Eight Immortals have a big influence to the Taoist teachings. By constantly improving body and mind, becoming stronger and healthier, the Tai Chi 13 form was created by Zhang Sanfeng. The exact year remains a mystery but this must have happen around the year 1200-1400. Many history books explain two different Zhang Sanfeng. Zhang Sanfeng was merely a nickname which can be translated as “Heaven and Earth”. For someone who attained the knowledge of Tao, Sanfeng might be a fitting name. However Zhang Sanfeng is seen as creator of Neijia (internal martial arts) which is an integral part of Tai Chi. There is a clear written record that Zhang Sanfeng created the Tai Chi 13 form. (additional Source: Grandmaster Zhong Yunlong Interview).

How the Wudang teachings came to Chen Village

In the 17th century a Taoist monk named Wang Zhongyue 王宗岳 came to Chenjiagou. Wang Zhongyue was asked to teach the Tai Chi form. Why he did this or what exactly happen is unclear but it started the Chen Tai Chi teachings we know today. (Source: Wikipedia)

Tai Chi as part of Internal Wudang Martial Arts

The principles of Nei Gong, Qi Gong, Kung Fu and Liang Yi are integrated in the Wudang Tai Chi system. Meditative (Wuji) aspects of Nei Gong, breathing, stretching and posture from Qi Gong, fighting aspect and intention from Kung Fu, harmonizing Yin and Yang with the doctrines of Liang Yi. Tai Chi is the connecting element to control all this aspects in motion. That Wudang Tai Chi is so well developed today we owe to the ancient documented Taoist experiences.


  1. I’ve been practicing the Eight Brocade aka Eight Silk Weaving for over 30 years. Now in my late 40’s many people still think I’m in my early 30’s to even late 20’s. Along with nutrition, vitamins, minerals, herbs, advanced nei-gung meditation and marrow washing and constantly absorbing energy, diet and juicing I continue to feel stronger, get healthier and still have an excellent memory, clear skin, full hair with almost no gray, bright eyes, speed and strength an in perfect health.

    I avoid doctors, don’t drink, smoke, take any drugs at all, read labels on foods, fast and practice sexual chi-gung as well for health and longevity along with other martial chi-gung training to keep the yin and yang balanced and keep the yang fires strong but controlled which usually decline with age, especially in men. This is where semen retention and controlling emissions comes into play as you should emit once a week to two weeks depending on age, health, energy and other factors.


  2. I been doing martial from age of 17 teen now 64 and mostly tai chi for 40 years and a young 64 and have always been told that Zhang Sanfeng was the founder of taichi and also in my researchers his name always cropped up.


  3. When we examine Chen Family martial arts of Chenjiagou, we see a 500 years old martial syntheses (Shaolin Taizhichangquan, Hongquan with Chen Family ttradition?) of the era, with the Li Family input to make the art as we see it today. Additionally, From Chen to Yang to Wu to Sun to Beijing Forms but I see no similar progression of Wudang taijiquan.
    How does one explain this glaring ommision when it was only Chen shi taijiquan that has been the background of what we know as taijiquan (tai chi) today?


      1. Also, what we know as Taiji today is only a name. You are under the impression that everyone knows what you know and thinks as you think. The shape of Taiji is the formless within a form. Zhang San-feng did not say that he created Taiji because he knew that Taiji existed before this universe was created. Zuan Wu was his teacher, and that is why the mountain is called Wudang Shan and not Zhang San-feng Shan. Zhang San-feng was the Great Grand Master that instructed his students to create there own styles, independent and free of his own but still having the internal work as it’s seeds. From those seeds a big tree was born, with many branches and leaves that we can see today. Who and what came first doesn’t matter, but what does matter is the path you walk. If the shoe fits wear it proudly.


  4. you can explain this by watching the muay thai fight vs chen taiji. Clearly rigged. then I saw two wudang fighters who had the real thing. People tend to be proof of history. I have witnessed some amazing things that were never written down, but does that mean it did not take place? Chen village supposedly defended itself from bandits, and if this is true, then how did the Japanese plunder the village? I have decided to train in the wudang martial arts after training in chen taiji for years, and part of this reason is that after doing push hands with a guy who has trained every day for at least 8 years in chen taiji, I found he had no strength, and I used a different martial art and used little effort in pushing him over. People need to understand and listen to reason. Should I listen to a group of people who clearly have rigged fights, or to those who have been forgotten?


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