After I put out the brief clip of me doing the Chen Old Frame 1st Routine, I got a few people asking me what's up with that, they thought I was a Zheng Man Qing specialist thru-and-thru. But as I explained at the seminar (where that demo was filmed), I learned and intensively practiced all the foundational aspects of Chen (Village) Style Tai Chi almost 45 years ago, loooong before it became a 'thing' as it is now all over the world. Back then either you blundered into it purely by accident, or else you would never even have heard of it, much less ever learned it.
Anyway a few people wrote to ask me, do I still routinely practice the Old Frame form - which after all is long, complex, and athletically demanding (I am 60 years old). Answer is ef yes, I run through this quite often just for the fun of it.
What specifically is the fun of it? Two things:
- The Chen moves overall are so wild, arbitrary, and goofy - they actually have a huge value for internal training. Because you see, in real internal training, the first challenge is just to get yourself relaxed enough and then organized enough that you even feel the real internal energy at all. But then once you've learned to occasionally generate a 'charge' it will be sputtering and momentary and spasmodic at first. Like a half-screwed-in light bulb. Over time you'll learn to be able to "hold the charge" as I often say, that is you'll be able to maintain the full body current or stream of power even with changes in body orientation, speed, dynamics, physical load etc. That's when you're really getting somewhere with this stuff. The Xingyi inventory of 5 Elements plus 12 Animals is superb for this purpose. But Old Frame Chen is also a good contender in that same training niche: weirdo moves done at normal or near normal speed which nevertheless demand that you HOLD YOUR INTERNAL CHARGE throughout the move's execution - beginning, middle and end. And that is the real training value of a wildass crazy set of moves like Chen Old Frame. No matter how it may look to you, no matter how it may feel to those who haven't yet tasted the real elixir, yes this is a true internal training routine and one of the best for experienced people.
- The other reason is that I like to kick. I don't talk about it much, but my original martial art was Tae Kwan Do. I've always been good at kicking and I used it extensively in the older style sanda type sparring we did in my very first kung fu days (early 70's). Kicking is fun and I never lost my taste for it, even though I don't emphasize it in my books and training materials because I've found that most people are too stiff to really be able to savor the enjoyment of it. But personally I like it and the Old Frame is full of playful leg work For a few minutes each day my legs get to do their thing, they get to LARP OUT as Billy Jack. In the iconic scene below, BJ takes out a baddie with exactly one of the Chen Old Frame moves. LMFAO....