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Part 8: The Development Of Zhao Bao Style Taijiquan

Of the popular styles of Taijiquan that have come into prominance in recent years, the Zhao Bao style Of Taijiquan is probably the most well known. Not to mention also one of the most controversial. There are two differring views on the origins of Zhao Bao Taijiquan and both have some logic to their claims.

We shall try to clarify what actually happened in the light of these two claims and present a plausible explanation to the confusion that exists today. Documentation on the Zhao Bao style is scarce and there are few published works to refer to. The Zhao Bao style is becoming increasingly popular and has spread to different countries. Perhaps in the future more primary and secondary sources will become available.

From Zhao Bao style comes a lesser known style of Hu Lei or Hu Long Jia Taijiquan. This style is just becoming known in the West and is arousing considerable interest. Works pertaining to this style are even harder to come by and investigation has been difficult because of this. But as the style is ultimately related to Zhao Bao style and its origins, more time has been devoted to the Zhao Bao style.

The Origin Theories Of Zhao Bao Taijiquan

There are two primary theories concerning Zhao Bao style Taijiquan. One comes from the Chen Villiage and the other from the Zhao Bao Villiage itself. Both, however, have the nexus on one key personage: Chen Qing Ping.

Of this noted personage we can only be certain of a few things. Chen Qing Ping had married and moved to the Zhao Bao Villiage which was his wife's home villiage. There he taught Taijiquan and had considerable influence. How he got the art is at the centre of the differences in opinion.

We shall examine the individual claims by themselves and then view them in the context of each other in an effort to determine the truth.

Claim 1: That The Chen Villiage Originated The Art

This claim was first put forth by Gu Liu Xin based on Chen Xin's seminal work on Chen style Taijiquan. In it, Chen Xin had written a family manual and that manual stated that Chen Xin had learnt his art from Chen You Ben and transmitted the art to the Zhao Bao Villiage.

Chen You Ben is widely acknowledged as the founder of the `new' style of Chen Taijiquan. We do not know for sure if he did know Taijiquan since it is disputed that the Chen Villiage did not invent Taijiquan since their claims have been proven untenable. In any case, Chen Qing Ping was supposed to have studied the Chen family arts from him and that is not what is in dispute. There is not very much material available on the `new' style and on the basis of postures there is not much variance with the `old' style.

This claim is the most widely believed due to the popularity of the works of Gu Liu Xin and Tang Hao. It was only in recent years with the liberation of China permitting more freedom that the Zhao Bao claims have been published and given air to. Beyond the recent work of Chen Xin, there is no other primary collaboration on it.

Claim 2: Zhiang Fa Transmitted The Art To Zhao Bao

In the recently published works of the Zhao Bao Taijiquan masters, there is a common belief that the art did not come from the Chen Villiage but instead was transmitted down by Jiang Fa, whose teacher was Wang Tsung Yueh, and that the art ultimately came from the Wudang mountain. This is in keeping with the early Chen references like that of Du Yu Wan.

The Zhao Bao masters hold that the art was first transmitted to the villiage by Jiang Fa who had once lived in the Zhao Bao villiage. Their placing of the date for Zhiang Fa puts him as a Ming Dynasty personage and could reflect an influence coming from the Chen Villiage on the placing of the dates. In any case, the old manuals in the Zhao Bao villiage record that the art came down from Jiang Fa.

This art passed down several generations to Zhang Yan who was supposed to have taught it to Chen Qing Ping and does not preclude the possibility that Chen Qing Ping was already skilled in the Chen family arts. The characteristics of Zhao Bao Taijiquan seem to bear this out.

Not all the Zhao Bao masters come down from Chen Qing Ping's lineage, some have come down from Chen Qing Ping's contemporaries and so it seems that the contention that Chen Qing Ping founded Zhao Bao Taijiquan may not be tenable.



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