Huan Dahai

Huan Dahai, 1925-2015

Huan Dahai (middle), Cheng Jiefeng (white shirt)


Welcome to the Huan Dahai page of 'longhua' old style Chenshi taiji and Jiang style bagua. I learned his style from his #2 disciple Cai Yuhua through the 80s and from Huan Dadai himself through the 1990s. I don't teach his Chen style taijiquan to any but my most advanced students, as it is too intuitive and organic to teach easily. Also, I have little material on him, since when we learned at that time we didn't have movie cameras and all that stuff. But, while I have have had many teachers, I only have one sifu, and I love this Chen style and Jiang bagua. 

Huan Dahai died in Shanghai, October 12, 2015. Here is an obituary that a student in the bagua lineage wrote (in Chinese). Some of the facts aren't quite what sifu told me, but it is a good obituary.

Some people have contacted me about Huan Dahai and his Chen taiji and bagua lineages. There are more fellow students out there than I was aware of, and they are often as unaware of each other as I was of them. So, to make a long story short, here are some postings about Huan Dahai, his lineage, and his students who are teaching.

I would like to find out more about his Chen taijji lineage. I have researched the people that he told me about, but I don't know much about them. Maybe if we work together we can find out more about this wonderful style. It is the most organic thing I practise, I don't know how else to describe it.

The bagua that sifu taught me is from Jiang Rongqiao, and I have translated a bagua book by Jiang Rongqiao, and put in photos of my martial elder brother, Cai Yuhua.

This is what I know of our Chen lineage.

Starting from Chen Yanxi. He taught his son Chen Fake (1887-1957), and among others, Li Ruidong, Yuan Keding (1878- ?), and Hu Yuchun. Our lineage comes from Yuan Keding. Our branch did not come from the taiji as changed by Chen Fake, but directly from Chen Yanxi. Chen Yanxi is generally thought to have taught at Yuan Shikai's martial academy, so this lineage is clear.

Yuan Keding was from Henan and spent time in Tianjin, Shandong, and Beijing. Yuan Keding was Yuan Shikai's (1859-1916, and the first president of China 1911-1916) son. I'm afraid that Yuan Keding wasn't famous for much of anything but trying to get political power on his father's coattails. 

The monk Zhai Hui’an learned from Yuan Keding. 

Li Ruidong was a wushu instructor for Yuan Shikai, and was known for his shaolin, taiji, weapons, and wrestling skill. He learned from Yang Luchan, among others. He was from Wuqing county in Hebei. I think Yuan Keding could have also worked with Li since they both worked for his father.

Huan Dahai learned from his friend Zhai Hui’an and also from Hu Yuchun (Zhaii’s martial uncle).

I am writing a book about our Chen style taijiquan, and Shanghai, and my experiences living and training there. It is taking a long time. I am trying to write something that is not a normal taijiquan book, and not boring. It is coming along quite well at the moment.

This is the old teahouse where sifu would go after training.

huandahai teahouse

chengjiefeng2Taiji Changquan. 

Our lineage has a Taiji Longfist routine among its routines. The Taiji Longfist routine flows like a river, just as the old books say. Its power is not quite the same as the Chen taiji power, not a chansi jin. Huan Dahai learned it from Jiang Rongqiao (1891-1974), so I am unclear why it is considered within our Chen style lineage. Jiang Rongqiao learned it from Tang Shilin. I don't know any further up the line. I do know that Jiang Rongqiao learned taiji from Tang Shilin, but this is not just Taiji. Just another of those mysteries. My martial brother, Cheng Jiefeng (in the photo), Huan Dahai’s eldest apprentice, also learned it directly from Jiang Rongqiao, and taught it to me and he allowed me to take photos as he did the routine on a few occasions. I can't put too many photos up online, since he gave me permission to take the photos to use just for my own learning. This is too bad, because Cheng Jiefeng does about the best taiji I've ever seen. This routine feels wonderful, but I haven't taught it to many people, as I feel it is something that needs to be deserved. I have been training with Cheng Jiefeng in 2016, 2017, and 2019 in Shanghai, working on the finer points of the routine. The covid-19 pandemic stopped my travels to Shanghai after that.


As for our baguazhang, that comes from Jiang Rongqiao. This is quite clear, as it is the same as Jiang put in one of his books, and the same as Sha Guozheng teaches as the old eight palms. Here are some photos of Cai Yuhua, my martial brother, the second highest apprentice of Huan Dahai. He teaches in Switzerland every year, usually in the fall. I have been training with Cheng Jiefeng in 2016, 2017, and 2019 in Shanghai, working on the finer points of the eight changes and the seventy-two hidden kicks. Cheng Jiefeng also learned directly from Jiang Rongqiao.




huandahai2This is our bagua 'sabre'. We learned with whatever came to hand. Sifu carried a cane, although he didn't need it to walk. The rest of us picked up branches.

Links to people who have some contact with Huan Dahai's Chen taiji or bagua lineage.?

taiji031_textmediumThis posture is similar to how we do a move in our white swan spreads its wings ('E' = swan, 'He' = crane, an easy switch when transmission is oral). Now, he could be doing another move altogether, and our lineage is not related to Chen Zhaopei as far as I know. But, it is interesting. This image is from Jarek Szymanski, China from Inside. He told me "I met the folk on the picture when I went to Chenjiagou for the first time in July 1991. He was a strange old guy, who insisted on showing me how the real old Chen style TJQ looked like, and do some pushing hand with me. I took several photos of him; however at the time I had no intention of any research and did not ask him about his name, his teacher or lineage. I believe he passed away some years ago." "As far as I remember he was Chen Zhaopei's disciple – he had me take some photos at CZP's tomb. He had the idea that real old frame looked exactly as he did it. By the way if you see the photos of CZP's Bai He Liang Chi in his book they look very much like that guy's posture. The fact is he definitively had some skill and his pushing hands were kind of scary."

More photos posted on Flickr

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