It is the traditional long form of the Chen family, matrix of the many styles and forms of TaijiQuan that we see today.

I came to LaoJia in 1995 after nineteen years of practising and teaching the Yang Style 108 Form.  The story goes that the Old Frame of the Chen family was taken away from Chenjiagou (the village of the Chen clan) by Yang LuChan, and over a generation or two acquired a different character to become Yangtaijiquan.

I certainly had difficulty recognising my mother-form.  Following Chen XiaoWang in the first movement of lifting the arms, I sensed the unknown : there was something directing the arms that was not from breath and muscle as I was used to.  And although I saw a difference, I could not copy his way of lifting the arms, and this experience - of not being able to copy a movement until I begin to understand what empowers it from inside - has been repeated time and again in my learning of all the forms, especially in the 38, XinJia and spear forms.

A shock came soon after the beginning moves of LaoJia, in the forward steps known as Brush Knee And Push in Yang Style and Wading Forwards in Chen.  The two names give an indication of the difference : in one you step and push in a fairly elementary coordination of left and right, upper and lower body.  Whereas in Chentaiji, the two sides of the body are each turning like wheels, propelling the arms which simultaneously rotate along their entire lengths.

Let us look at the backward steps, called Step Back And Repulse the Monkey in Yang Style and Step Back Whirling in Chen.  The techniques of the two show an entirely distinct modus operandi.  In my old 108 Form, it was sufficient to relax and draw the arm in from the deeper muscles of the back, and coordinate the push with the shifting of weight.  It seemed that nothing in my previous training had prepared me to Wade Forwards or Step Back Whirling!  This is because the body in Chen is constantly coiling and uncoiling from the core around the waist, crosscurrents knitting together the two sides of the body.  In this everchanging complex weave, power comes if no tension blocks the flow along the route from dantian to periphery.