After several years of war, Zhu Yuanzhang finally took command of the Red Turban Army. In 1367, he sent troops on a northern expedition, making it the final step towards unifying China. On the northern bank of the Yellow River, a portion of Henan Province was still occupied by the Yuan General Tiedongmu’er. Zhu Yuanzhang dispatched his general Chang Yuchun to cross the Yellow River and engage in a major battle with Tiedongmu’er, who was stationed in Huaiqing Prefecture, Henan. The two sides fought back and forth, resulting in a stalemate and a tug-of-war between them. The prolonged tug-of-war inflicted great suffering on the common people. Regardless of which side entered the villages, the villagers had to put up colorful slogans on their doorframes to welcome them. The frequent and rapid shifts in the tug-of-war led the villagers to come up with a permanent solution. They used a thin wooden board with one side saying “Welcome the Yuan Army, Protect the Homeland and Ensure the People’s Safety,” and the other side saying “Expel the Barbarians, Restore China.” When one side arrived, they would flip the board to display the welcoming slogan of that side. This method was cost-effective and convenient, but it ultimately caused a catastrophic outcome.
On this occasion, Zhu Yuanzhang’s general Chang Yuchun defeated Tiedongmu’er and settled in Huaiqing Prefecture. While touring the city, he was delighted to see colorful welcome slogans on every household’s wooden signs at the entrance. Suddenly, a strong gust of wind blew, flipping the signs to reveal the other side that said “Welcome the Yuan Army.” Angered by this sight, Chang Yuchun ordered the execution of all households with double-sided signs, resulting in the massacre of countless people in Huaiqing Prefecture. It was the first bloody slaughter of Huaiqing Prefecture.
After proclaiming himself emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang harbored deep resentment towards Tiedongmu’er, who fiercely resisted, as well as the people of Huaiqing Prefecture who hung double-sided signs. He sought an opportunity to seek revenge against the people of Huaiqing Prefecture. Coincidentally, a group of imperial envoys from Shanxi was robbed on a bridge near Gengzhuang in Wen County, Huaiqing Prefecture. When Zhu Yuanzhang received the news, he was furious and secretly ordered Chang Yuchun to carry out another bloody massacre in Huaiqing Prefecture.
As a result, Wen County, Meng County, and Wuzhi County, which were under the jurisdiction of Huaiqing Prefecture, experienced three brutal and bloody massacres. The area around Wen County was particularly devastated. At that time, the Ming army placed ingots at every village intersection in Wen County. The next day, if the ingots were still there, it meant that the village was devoid of people. But if the ingots were gone, it indicated that there were still survivors in the village, and the search and slaughter would continue. These cruel actions caused the population to be decimated over an area of hundreds of miles, and thousands of acres of fertile land were left abandoned and desolate.
In the fifth year of the Ming Hongwu era (1372 AD), Zhu Yuanzhang ordered the migration of people from Hongdong County in Shanxi Province to the desolate and uninhabited areas within a radius of hundreds of miles around Huaiqing Prefecture. Among the migrants was a young man named Chen Bu, originally from Dongtuhe Village, Zezhou County, Shanxi. Due to consecutive disasters in his hometown, Chen Bu fled to Hongdong County with his wife and children and was swept into the migration procession into the territory of Huaiqing Prefecture. Accompanying the migration, Chen Bu and his family arrived at a location 10 kilometers northwest of Wen County (near the border of Qinyang City), where they settled in a place with water and named it Chen Bu Zhuang. However, due to the low-lying terrain and frequent floods in Chen Bu Zhuang, the family relocated to Qingfeng Ridge on the southeast bank of the Yellow River in Wen County in the seventh year of the Ming Hongwu era. They renamed their settlement Changyang Village. With the southern side of Changyang Village facing the Yellow River and the northern side protected by a hill, the village was shielded from droughts and floods. Because there was a village called Shigou to the west of Changyang Village, another village called Zhaogou to the east, and a village called Beigou to the north, all three villages had “gou” (ditch) in their names. Influenced by this, as the Chen family multiplied and prospered, Changyang Village was eventually renamed Chenjiagou.
After settling in Changyang Village, Chen Bu worked diligently, cultivated the land, and built a prosperous family. In order to protect their homeland from local bandits, Chen Bu, who was skilled in traditional martial arts, gathered his children and grandchildren at home to practice martial arts. Together, they used their family’s martial arts to safeguard the various interests of their family.
When teaching his disciples, Chen Bu strictly adhered to the rule of “passing on to males, not to females, and passing on to Chen family members, not to those outside the clan.” As a result, the Chen-style Tai Chi remained in a secretive and closed state of transmission for many generations. It was passed down to the sixth generation, with the second generation being Chen Gang, the third generation being Chen Qi, the fourth generation being Chen Jingyuan, the fifth generation being Chen Tang, and the sixth generation being Chen Zongli. In the seventh generation, the Chen family brothers began to branch out and establish their own enterprises. The seventh generation, Chen Sihuai, passed it on to the eighth generation, Chen Fumin, who in turn passed it on to the ninth generation, Chen Zouqian, and his brothers. From this point on, Chen Bu’s family martial arts began to develop horizontally. Chen Zouqian, based on the family’s martial arts, made extensive modifications and improvements, bringing the family’s martial arts to its peak.
Chen Zouqian, also known as Chen Wangting, lived during the late Ming and early Qing dynasties (1600-1680 AD). From a young age, he excelled in his studies and was diligent in his pursuit of knowledge. He not only mastered the secrets of the family’s martial arts but also extensively studied the works of various scholars and philosophers. With profound knowledge and relentless exploration, he continuously innovated and developed the martial arts, making him a remarkable figure in both scholarly and martial pursuits.