Hu Lei Tai Chi
originated in Wanggeyao Village, Zhaobu Town, Wen County, Jiaozuo City, Henan Province, China. It was created by Grandmaster Li Jingyan, a Tai Chi master from the late Qing dynasty.
Li Jingyan learned martial arts from Master Chen Qingping in Zhaobu Town. Among the disciples of Master Chen Qingping, Li Jingyan was considered the most outstanding (as recorded in Chen Ziming’s “Chen Family Tai Chi Boxing Genealogy”). Li Jingyan later transmitted the art to Yang Hu (Yang Shuwen) from Wanggeyao Village, who further refined, developed, and popularized it.
During the late Qing dynasty and the early Republic of China era, there were over a hundred official training grounds for Grandmaster Yang Hu in Huaiqing Prefecture, Henan Province. His students ranged from high-ranking officials like Du Yan, the governor of Huaiqing Prefecture, to common people. It was a flourishing time for Hulei Tai Chi. Notably, Yang Hu’s disciple Xie Songji achieved various victories, including defeating the foreign strongman “San Ba San” and other renowned martial artists.
In the practice of this style, the movements are characterized by the following principles:
“Alternating between fast and slow,
uniting strength and softness;
leading, falling, opening and closing,
employing both large and small circles;
as fast as lightning, as swift as thunder, unstoppable.”
Hence, the local people refer to it as Hulei Jia, while martial arts practitioners call it “Huo Bu Fang Yuan Tai Chi” or “Zhou Shen Ba Gua Tai Chi.”
The main characteristics of Hulei Tai Chi are as follows
Complete Lineage: It has been passed down with a comprehensive and intact transmission. It still preserves the authentic Tai Chi principles, techniques, training methods, and applications from a hundred years ago.
1. Quan Jia (Set of Movements)
It is divided into ten levels of proficiency, which represents the “Ten Levels of Theory, Ten Levels of Techniques, and Ten Levels of Training.” It progressively deepens the understanding and practice of the art.
2. Standing, Sitting, and Reclining Exercises
These are the methods of static training. Although they may seem still, they actually involve seeking movement within stillness, with layers of subtle changes, such as big movements, small movements, and micro-movements.
3. Solo Practice
The individual movements within the Quan Jia can be extracted and practiced independently, forming a complete system. This includes training in issuing force from specific stances, using active footwork, employing both soft and firm techniques, and cultivating intention-based force, among others.
4. Tui Shou (Push Hands)
Traditional Tai Chi did not emphasize fixed-step push hands. Instead, it focused on “active footwork push hands,” involving stepping forward and backward, with intricate details on how to advance or retreat, where to advance or retreat, and even training in advancing one step and retreating three steps or advancing five steps and retreating five steps. There are further changes such as sliding steps, shaking steps, and padding steps. This also includes the application of techniques such as throws, strikes, sweeps, and joint locks within the context of active footwork push hands.
5. Sanshou (Free Sparring)
Derived from push hands, Sanshou is another system within Hulei Tai Chi. Once one has mastered push hands, the transition to Sanshou becomes natural and seamless.
6. Internal Cultivation
The saying goes, “Ten years of training, ten years of cultivating Qi.” Training is emphasized during youth and middle age, while cultivation becomes the focus during middle age and beyond. The practice should integrate training and cultivation, where the external form guides the internal energy. When the internal energy is activated, it is expressed externally, but the external should never be neglected. Ultimately, with a single thought, the internal and external aspects move together.
The cultivation of Dantian (the energy center of the body) involves stabilizing its movement. When the Dantian is still, it becomes filled with energy. Once it is stabilized, then the Dantian can be set in motion.”Dantian Gong, advancing to the next step, involves leading and sinking the Dantian and rotating it.
The saying ‘Even ten thousand pieces of gold cannot buy the Tao’ refers precisely to the cultivation methods of the Dantian!