Zhao Bao Tai Chi
The Zhao Bao style of Tai Chi originated from the town of Zhao Bao in the sixteenth century. Located fourteen kilometers east of the county of Wen in the central Chinese province of Henan , Zhao Bao is known for its idyllic atmosphere. The town looks south over the Yellow River’s northern banks, and gazes north into the Taihang foothills, turning east into the capital（京畿）, and extending west toward Luo Yi . Since antiquity, this propitious location has made Zhao Bao a center of travel and trade. According to legend, Zhao Bao was once the elaborate Jin Yin Zhong（金銀塚）burial grounds of the soldiers of Zhao Dynasty during the Warring States Period（戰國時期趙國）; thus earning the town the title of “Zhao Bao” or “Zhao’s stronghold,” a name which has continued into usage today.
In the closing years of the Ming（明） Dynasty , the town’s name became well-known in the world of martial arts when a Zhao Bao native named Jiang Fa studied Tai Chi under Shan Xi master Wang Zong Yue（王宗岳）. Jiang Fa later chose fellow townsmen Xing Xihuai as a worthy disciple to on pass his own skills to, and thus began an illustrious new tradition of martial arts in the town of Zhao Bao. During the Kanxi（康熙） Period , the later emperor Yong Zheng visited Zhao Bao and admired the Tai Chi grandmasters so much that he gifted a handwritten inscription to the local Temple of Guandi to commend the martial prowess of the Zhao Bao Tai Chi masters.
The tenets of Zhao Bao Tai Chi emphasize simplicity, stressing that one should be as “hard as iron, soft as cotton, slippery as a fish, and tenacious as glue.” Its philosophy is expressed in the composition of its stances, in movements that harmonize and flow with the anatomy of the human body. Its aesthetic draws inspiration from nature with the goal of achieving movement as light as a cloud and as fluid as water. The martial art derives the structure of its theory from canonical Chinese scriptures including, “I Ching”（易經） , “Zhongyong” , as well as Neo-Confucian thought , uniting “The Three Teachings” , under a new umbrella of thought. Its art of attack and defense emulates the inscrutable shifts of clouds as well as the deceptively smooth pull of powerful ocean waves, attacking at the most unexpected to leave an opponent senseless.
Zhao Ba Tai Chi is still evolving in the long river of history. For seven generations Zhao Bao’s conservative leaders kept the art exclusively within the clan, giving rise to the saying that, “Zhao Bao Tai Chi would never leave its village.” Towards the end of the nineteenth century, however, this direct line of descent was broken, and many new practitioners entered the school. Then, in the 1930s, tenth generation Zhao Bao Tai Chi Grandmasters Zheng Wuqing and Zheng Boying both left Zhao Bao, respectively, and brought a definitive end to the axiom that “Zhao Ba Tai Chi would never leave its village.” The two Grandmasters both settled in the nearby city of Xi’an and dedicated their lives to cultivating and promoting the art of Tai Chi to the greater public.
In the 1990s, Zhao Bao Tai Chi’s eleventh generation Grandmaster Song Yun-Hua （宋蘊華）and Master Wayne Peng, the twelfth generation master of Zhao Bao Tai Chi, took the reach of Zhao Bao Tai Chi even further to Hong Kong as well as overseas and their work has received worldwide acclaim.