In addition to the 5 main styles of tai-chi there exists a number of less well known styles. A selection of these are shown below.
Chen Qing-Ping was given permission to teach outside Chen village after he married and moved to the nearby village of Zhaobao. What he taught was known as new frame until a newer new frame emerged and the form became known as small frame. Zhaobao style tai-chi is widely believed to have developed from this, though it is disputed by Zhaobao schools who claim their own lineage.
Had Yang Lu-Chan not learned tai-chi from Chen Chang-Xing the art would not have been popularised and would probably be unheard of today.
If we accept the possibility that Chen style may have been derived from another teacher then clearly it is possible that other family styles may also have done so. It is conceivable that other styles of tai-chi exist that have not evolved from Chen style, have remained a family secret and may be unheard of in the world at large.
Such was the claim of the late Lee Chee-Soo who was one of the earliest people to teach tai-chi in the UK. The unique style he taught has diminished in popularity since his death but his legacy still remains in the UK.
In recent years modern schools of tai-chi have emerged which claim to promote the health aspects of the art while disregarding the martial. Yet these facets are inextricably intertwined.
Care must be taken not to substitute the pragmatic skills that have given tai-chi its reputation for the myths and superstitions that have come to surround it.
In the 1930's Cheng Man-Ching shortened and simplified the Yang style foundation form to produce "Cheng's 37 steps" and in so doing became the first person to package tai-chi in an easy to learn format suitable for the weak and elderly. Cheng's form was about a third of the length of the Yang form he had learnt from Yang Cheng-fu and removed many of the more difficult moves. He called his system simplified tai-chi.
Many western tai-chi schools have come from the Cheng Man-Ching lineage but he is practically unheard of in China.
Following their rise to power, the communist government initially made it difficult for tai-chi teachers in China. Small enterprises did not fit in with the new ethos and many teachers were imprisoned and tortured during the political turmoil of the cultural revolution. Consequently many tai-chi masters left the country and set up elsewhere. Eventually the government came to realise that a national treasure was being eroded and became more tolerant.
The Chinese Sports Committee has since developed standardised tai-chi forms for the purpose of competition. These new forms include the 24 Movement Simplified Form, the 32 Sword Form, the 48 Combined Form, the 66 Combined Form and the 88 Yang Style Form. Competition tai-chi has become a significant component of the Asian Games but is not popular in the west.