The town of Chen Jia Gou is situated in the Henan Province close to the Yellow river and is where Chen Bu, the first ancestor of the Chen family arrived from Shanxi province, that was famous for its martial arts during the Qing Dynasty. Chen Bu brought his family's martial art to Chen Jia Gou and passed it on to the next generations.
Chen Wan Ting (1600-1680, ninth generation) added the classical chinese philosophy, traditional chinese medicine and trademarks of Shaolin Gongfu to compose the first version of Tai ji quan.
Chen Wan Ting was a scholar and a excellent martial artist who at the end of the Ming Dynasty passesd imperial army exams on a provincial level. At the beginning of the Qing Dynasty he also passed civilian exams and in 1641 was made commander of the Wenxian armed forces. Political and social upheaval forced him to flee and hide from the government. He took refuge in the Shaolin monastery at 80km from Chen jia gou where many other rebels hid themselves. According to Chen Zheng Lei this a kind of brotherhood between Chen Wang Ting and another Shaolin practitioner emerged, which is one of the reasons of the very close relationship between Shaolin and Chen Taiji.
Chen Wan Ting returned at an advanced age to Chen Jia Gou where he started to develop Taiji by combining martial arts and qigong, medecine and philosophy. He studied the book of the Yellow Emperor, meditation, qigong and the system of the meridians. He mixed his family's martial art with others that he had experimented with and integrated the Daoist philosophy and Shaolin's Chan (Zen) philosophy. Chen Wan Ting adapted a lot of the Daoist philosophy such as the idea of the contraries Yin and Yang, movements of taiji being a microcosmos in the universe and that human movement should be natural and not forced. He tried to use his enemies energy and to understand the physics of why things move (leverage,...), why they stop and how to move faster. The ideas of Chen Wan Ting on these subjects were very advanced for his time.
The health aspects and the military experience of Chen Wan Ting that permitted him to include combat and sefdefense oriented techniques were equally important to the development of Taijiquan. Taiji was not only forms practice but gave a lot of importance to tuishou or pushhands, which is the direct application of the movements and concepts of the forms. He improved the basic patterns of pushing and leaning, as well as "listening" skills, understanding of the movements and how to control oneself and his adversary.
Chen taijiquan as we know it nowadays was created by Chen Wan Ting and passed on from generation to generation until Chen Changxing (1771-1853, 14 generation) developped the forms that are called Lao jia (The old frame) Another member of the family of the same generation made some changes to construct the forms that are called Xiao jia (Small frame), omitting some difficult movements and maintaining the structure of the original form. Chen Xin, of the 16th generation dedicated himself during 12 years to writing the 4 volumes of "The didactic material of Chen Shi Taijiquan" that document the theories of Chen Taiji.
Later Chen Fa Ke of the 17th generation created the forms of Xin jia (new frame) and in 1928 he and Chen Zhaopei of the 18th generation were invited to Beijing and Nanjing to teach taijiquan. From then on Chen Taiji quan started to spread outside of Chen Village and to the whole world.