Chen Village's simple appearance belies something profound. This dusty hamlet of fewer than 3,000 people has had an impact on Chinese culture far out of proportion to its size, since this is where Taijiquan was born.

Taijiquan (otherwise known as Taichi and sometimes rendered as "ultimate fist") generally conjures up images of old people in parks moving gracefully, if glacially. But a glance at a Chen-style practitioner in motion would quickly destroy this image.

Life in Chen Village is hard. The Taijiquan can be, too. Unlike many slower, abbreviated Taijiquan styles, at ground zero it is often fast, powerful and dynamic. Routines frequently feature bursts of speed, quick punches and kicks.