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What is Tai Chi Chuan? 

Questions

10 essentials of Tai Chi

History of Tai Chi

History of Yang family

What is Tai Chi Chuan? 


q13.jpgWhat is Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan?

Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan (Fist of the great divide of Yang Family) is a traditional Chinese “inner” martial art, created by the Yang family (Yang Family is a famous Chinese family who thought the Imperial family of China as well as the nobility of Beijing. Yang Family has been storing for more than 200 years, until this day the secrets and traditions of Tai Chi Chuan) In the basis of inner martial arts is the development and use of the inner strength of one’s body for achieving maximum result with minimum muscle effort, as an exercise for health and effective fighting technique. After firearms came to China during the 19th century, martial arts changed their basic use from a self-defense method and a war weapon to a self-defense method for specific purposes (defense of individuals and events). Since than, most of the people in China and around the world want to study Tai Chi Chuan not that much as a self dense art but as health improvement methodology and also for healing purposes. Today, contemporary people around the world study Tai Chi Chuan as a life extension and health improvement methodology. This doesn’t mean that Tai Chi Chuan has changed and has lost its martial art force. In order for a person to get the maximum of Tai Chi Chuan, it should be thought and studied in its original version, the way it was originally created. That’s why if somebody wants to study the original style, he/ she have to first master the theory, Wu De (martial virtue), basic work, meditation, the forms, push hands and ancient weapons – saber, sword and copy, in order to strengthen their body through mobility improvement and unification of mind and body. Those who want to continue to study Tai Chi Chuan in order to master it on a deeper, practical level can do it after they’ve completed the basic work.

What is Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan for beginners? 

Yang style of Tai Chi Chuan is practical system in which by series of exercises and techniques, the practitioner learns to increase his or her physical energy, to get free from the tension, to improve his or her health condition, to self – defend and to protect from illnesses.   

What is Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan as a tool for effective self – defense? 

The effectivness of Tai Chi Chuan Yang style as a system for self – defense is extremely high. The focus is on neutralization of the opponent without using rude physical force. Quick and dynamic hits with the palm of the hand and the fist are used, as well as locks of joints, throws, and kicks on all levels. In order to study Tai Chi Chuan as a effective self-defense method, the practitioners should go through a special methodology of education in order to master their theoretic knowledge, to develop their force, physical and mental endurance, flexibility, relaxation, to master all the forms with and without weapons, push hands, sparrings without and with weapons.

What is Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan for health and longevity?

In the process of creating unshakable base of health and welfare of physical body, the person also builds a base for developing his or her own spiritual potential. The preservation of full physical psychic balance, in the condition of peaceful mental concentration is basic requirement for Tai Chi Chuan training. It is basic for development and cultivation of personality. Tai Chi Chuan is the way to balance the life of the practitioner, by realization of his place and role in the world surrounding him or her. Tai Chi Chuan is set to the inner meditative practice in movement. The systematic practice of Tai Chi Chuan leads to general strengthening of the immune system, improving the metabolism and treatment of many diseases. Furthermore Tai Chi Chuan slows aging. In order to discover Tai Chi Chuan’s longevity, health and youth secrets, one should build healthy habits through combining Tai Chi Chuan methods with a body detoxication, healthy eating style and a compete bad habits elimination.

What is Push hands? 
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Push hands is training practice with partner in which the practitioners are practicing techniques, which are encoded in the solo technique (the form) and apply them in the practice via dynamic techniques. Push hands appears to be the transition from the solo technique to free technique for self – defense. They are 5 types of push hands: fixed feet with one hand, fixed feet with two hands, steps with one hand, steps with hands and free.

Why to practice Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan with saber?

The training with saber is important element from the educating in Tai Chi Chuan. It’s very useful for practitioners, namely for – developing the memory, the coordination of movements, the strength, bravery, speed and the spirit. The movements are also useful as a massage for improved function of internal organs. The saber is an exotic ancient weapon, which person can learn also as effective fighting technique.

Why to practice Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan with straight, double-edged sword?

The practice of Tai Chi Chuan with a straight, double-edged sword is a complex and difficult technique for the relatively advanced. It needs high concentration, focus, consistency. It is extremely useful practice for developing the memory, eyesight, coordination and concentration. It also releases people from daily stress and tension. It is an interesting and effective fighting technique, uniting the most effective and practical techniques of ancient sword from the Wudang mountain. 

From the official site of the International Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan:

1. How did Tai Chi begin?

There are two theories

Theory #1

      Around the Yuan and Ming Dynasty - Chang Sanfeng - about 600-700 years ago lived in Shaolin Temple and went to WuDang Mountain and created Tai Chi. He saw a crane fighting with a snake. The crane was always hard. The snake would yield and follow the crane and did not resist and so he didn't lose his life to the crane. Hard was controlled by soft.

Theory #2

      Created by Chen Family about 300 years ago by Chen Wangting.

2. What are the 13 Postures (original name of Tai Chi Chuan)?

The 13 Postures are comprised of 8 energies and 5 steps:

8 energies are: ward off, roll back, press, push, pull, elbow strike, shoulder strike, and split

5 steps are: forward, back, look left, gaze right, and center

3. How many styles of Tai Chi are there and what are their differences?

There are 5 different styles of Tai Chi that are connected with each other. Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu and Sun styles. All 5 styles are connected together; their outside movements are a little different but inside the energies are the same.

Chen Style - is fast and slow combined together with some jumping and stomping movements. Old form and cannon fist was created from the 17th generation.

Yang Style - Yang Luchan learned the old form/frame from the Chen family. Yang movements are slow, even, gentle, big and large. Yang Luchan learned from the 14th generation Chen family member.
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Wu/Hao Style - The 1st Wu style came from Yang and Chen styles and is slow, smooth, and small and the posture is high. Wu Yuxiang learned from Yang Banhou, 2nd generation Yang family member, and then learned from Chen Qingping, 14th generation. Wu/Hao is a smaller frame.

Wu Style - 2nd Wu style comes from Quanyu who learned from Yang Banhou. They lean their body to the side but when they lean they think about being straight. Wu learned from Yang Banhou. Later in age Banhou's frame became smaller.

Sun Style - learned from Hao Weijian. Their movements combine 3 styles of Tai Chi together, Wu, Hsing-I and Bagua.

4. Who created each of the 5 styles?

Chen was created by Chen Wangting
Yang was created by Yang Luchan
Wu/Hao was created by Wu Yuxiang
Wu was created by Wu Jian Quan or Wu Quanyu
Sun was created by Sun Lutang

5. Who did the creators learn from?

Yang Luchan learned from Chen Changxin
Wu Yuxiang learned from Yang Luchan, Yang Banhou and Chen Qingping
Wu Jianquan learned from his father, Quanyu
Sun Lutang learned from Hao Weijian

6. What are the original names of the birthplaces for the 5 major styles of Tai Chi Chuan?

The original name of the birthplace of Yang Style is Guangfuzhen town in Guangpingfu area (bigger than county, smaller than province).

The original name of the birthplace of Chen Style is Chenjiagou village, Wen county, Hunan province.

The original name of the birthplace of Wu/Hao Style is Guangfu town, Yongnian county, Heibei province.

The original name of the birthplace for Sun or Wu Styles is not officially known.

7. What is the History of Yang Style?q8.jpg

The birthplace of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan is Hebei Province, Yongnian County. About 200 years ago, Yang LuChan went to Beijing to teach the Emperor's Family. People would watch and wanted to learn from him. His movements were smooth, slow and even. As it evolved, Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan has had different frames. The original frame style is called the Old Frame. Then came the Small, Middle or Medium Frame and last the Large Frame. The Frame that is practiced now is the Large Frame which we call the "Traditional, 85, 103, and 108 Form." Even though the counting is different, the movements are the same.

8. How has Yang Style changed from old, medium and small frame and who did which?

Yang Luchan is old frame
Yang Banhou & Yang Shaohou - small frame
Yang Jianhou is medium frame
Yang Chengfu - large frame

9. What is the current Yang Family lineage?

Yang Luchan, 1st generation (old frame)
Yang Jianhou is 2nd generation (middle frame)
Yang Chengfu is 3rd generation (large form) He standardized the form that is practiced throughout the world today.
Yang Zhenduo is 4th generation
Yang Jun is 5th generation

10. What is the most popular style of Tai Chi today?

Yang Style is the most popular style of Tai Chi practiced around the world today. This is largely due to the Yang family teaching to the public and not keeping it private.

11. What are the 10 essentials of Tai Chi Chuan?

Following are the Ten Essentials of Tai Chi Chuan Orally transmitted by Yang Chengfu Recorded by Chen Weiming Translated by Jerry Karin

   1. Empty, lively, pushing up and energetic (1)

      'Pushing up and energetic' means the posture of the head is upright and straight and the spirit is infused into its apex. You may not use strength. To do so makes the back of the neck stiff, whereupon the chi and blood cannot circulate freely. You must have an intention which is empty, lively (or free) and natural. Without an intention which is empty, lively, pushing up and energetic, you won't be able to raise your spirit.

   2. Hold in the chest and pull up the back

      The phrase 'hold in the chest' means the chest is slightly reserved inward, which causes the chi to sink to the cinnabar field (dan1 tian2). The chest must not be puffed out. If you do so then the chi is blocked in the chest region, the upper body becomes heavy and lower body light, and it will become easy for the heels to float upward. 'Pulling up the back' makes the chi stick to the back. If you are able to hold in the chest then you will naturally be able to pull up the back. If you can pull up the back, then you will be able to emit a strength from the spine which others cannot oppose.

   3. Relax the waist

      The waist is the commander of the whole body. Only after you are able to relax the waist2 will the two legs have strength and the lower body be stable. The alternation of empty and full all derive from the turning of the waist. Hence the saying: 'The wellspring of destiny lies in the tiny interstice of the waist. Whenever there is a lack of strength in your form, you must look for it in the waist and legs.

   4. Separate empty and full

      In the art of Tai Chi Chuan, separating full and empty is the number one rule. If the whole body sits on the right leg, then the right leg is deemed 'full' and the left leg 'empty'. If the whole body sits on the left leg, then the left leg is deemed 'full' and the right leg 'empty'. Only after you are able to distinguish full and empty will turning movements be light, nimble and almost without effort; if you can't distinguish them then your steps will be heavy and sluggish, you won't be able to stand stably, and it will be easy for an opponent to control you.

   5. Sink the shoulders and droop the elbows

      Sinking the shoulders means the shoulders relax open and hang downward. If you can't relax them downward, the shoulders pop up and then the chi follows and goes upward, causing the whole body to lack strength. Drooping the elbows means the elbows are relaxed downward. If the elbows are elevated then the shoulders are unable to sink. When you use this to push someone they won't go far. It's like the 'cut off' energy of external martial arts3.

   6. Use Intent Rather than Force

      The taiji classics say, "this is completely a matter of using intent rather than force'. When you practice taijiquan, let the entire body relax and extend. Don't employ even the tiniest amount of coarse strength which would cause musculo-skeletal or circulatory blockage with the result that you restrain or inhibit yourself. Only then will you be able to lightly and nimbly change and transform, circling naturally. Some wonder: if I don't use force, how can I generate force? The net of acupuncture meridians and channels throughout the body are like the waterways on top of the earth. If the waterways are not blocked, the water circulates; if the meridians are not impeded the chi circulates. If you move the body about with stiff force, you swamp the meridians, chi and blood are impeded, movements are not nimble; all someone has to do is begin to guide you and your whole body is moved. If you use intent rather than force, wherever the intent goes, so goes the chi. In this way - because the chi and blood are flowing, circulating every day throughout the entire body, never stagnating - after a lot of practice, you will get true internal strength. That's what the taiji classics mean by "Only by being extremely soft are you able to achieve extreme hardness." Somebody who is really adept at taiji has arms which seem like silk wrapped around iron, immensely heavy. Someone who practices external martial arts, when he is using his force, seems very strong. But when not using force, he is very light and floating. By this we can see that his force is actually external, or superficial strength. The force used by external martial artists is especially easy to lead or deflect, hence it is not of much value.

   7. Synchronize Upper and Lower Body

      In the taiji classics 'Synchronize Upper and Lower Body is expressed as: "With its root in the foot, emitting from the leg, governed by the waist, manifesting in the hands and fingers - from feet to legs to waist - complete everything in one impulse." * When hands move, the waist moves and legs move, and the gaze moves along with them. Only then can we say upper and lower body are synchronized. If one part doesn't move then it is not coordinated with the rest.

   8. Match Up Inner and Outer

      What we are practicing in taiji depends on the spirit, hence the saying: "The spirit is the general, the body his troops". If you can raise your spirit, your movements will naturally be light and nimble, the form nothing more than empty and full, open and closed. When we say 'open', we don't just mean open the arms or legs; the mental intent must open along with the limbs. When we say 'close', we don't just mean close the arms or legs; the mental intent must close along with the limbs. If you can combine inner and outer into a single impulse*, then they become a seamless whole.

   9. (Practice) Continuously and Without Interruption

      Strength in external martial arts is a kind of acquired, brute force, so it has a beginning and an end, times when it continues and times when it is cut off, such that when the old force is used up and new force hasn't yet arisen, there is a moment when it is extremely easy for the person to be constrained by an opponent. In taiji, we use intent rather than force, and from beginning to end, smoothly and ceaselessly, complete a cycle and return to the beginning, circulating endlessly. That is what the taiji classics mean by "Like the Yangtze or Yellow River, endlessly flowing." And again: "Moving strength is like unreeling silk threads". These both refer to unifying into a single impulse*.

  10. Seek Quiescence within Movement

      External martial artists prize leaping and stopping as skill, and they do this till breath (chi) and strength are exhausted, so that after practicing they are all out of breath. In taiji we use quiescence to overcome movement, and even in movement, still have quiescence. So when you practice the form, the slower the better! When you do it slowly your breath becomes deep and long, the chi sinks to the cinnabar field (dan1 tian2) and naturally there is no deleterious constriction or enlargement of the blood vessels. If the student tries carefully he may be able to comprehend the meaning behind these words.

Philosophy
 
1. How is Chinese Culture incorporated into Tai Chi?

Chinese culture is developed from I-Ching and different schools of philosophy.
Tai Chi (one thing) eminates from wuji (ultimate nothingness). Tai Chi is the origin of dynamic and static states and separates into two - yin and yang. When there is movement, yin and yang separate. When there is no movement, they combine and become one.

Wu Sheng = 5 elements/principles. 5 elements are: fire, water, metal, wood and earth Each develops, controls and balances each other.

Earth is nourished by fire
Metal is created by earth
Metal dissolves to feed water
Water nourishes wood
Wood feeds fire

Water quenches fire
Fire tempers metal
Metal cuts wood
Wood restrains earth
Earth holds back water

Chinese medicine uses yin and yang. For example: Heart = fire; Liver = wood;
Kidney = water. When we are sick yin and yang are not in balance. Chinese medicine also uses Wu Sheng elements


2. What is the difference between Internal and External martial arts?


With external martial arts one must be harder and stronger than their opponent in order to overcome the opponent.

Internal martial arts include Tai Chi, Hsing-I, and Bagua. We train to use soft ways to make body soft, follow opponent's energy. Like cotton - yielding. Inside and outside are coordinated together.

Practical
 
1. After learning the hand form, what else do we learn?


Students learn the Hand Form, Push Hands, and Weapons (sword, saber and staff). The hand form is the foundation for all other forms. After learning the hand form the student progresses to learn push hands. Push Hands teaches the student to apply the 8 energies taught in the hand form with an opponent/partner. The sword and saber teaches the student how to use a weapon. The sword and saber still follow the 10 essentials while maintaining the large, graceful, and even pace. The sword techniques are clear, light, flexible, lively and flowing and the saber techniques are heavy, powerful, and energetic and show strong spirit.

2. What is Push Hands and its basic principles?

The basic principles for push hands is sticking, adhering, connecting, following with no resisting or separating from the opponent. If your opponent doesn't move, you don't move. When your opponent begins to move, then you move late and arrive/control first.

3. What forms and types of Push Hands is taught by the Yang Family?

We have two forms of Push Hands - Fixed step and moving step. In Yang Style it includes 5 different types of push hands - single arm fixed step, double arm fixed step, moving step - straight footwork, moving step - cross footwork and big rollback.

4. What weapons are part of the original Yang family Tai Chi?

The traditional Yang style actually doesn't have many weapons. In the main they are divided into two groups: long and short handled weapons.

The short weapons are the 67-move sword and 13-move saber.

For the long weapons we used to include the long spear (or Yang style 13-move spear), but later for safety reasons, removed the spear head so that it became a long staff. The techniques for the staff remain the same as the original spear form. Later the long staff practice turned mainly into a way of training to emit energy (fajing). This is usually referred to as dou gan or 'shivering staff.'

5. What is a Bow Stance?

A bow stance is like the shape of an archer's stance. Knee follows the toe direction and doesn't go past the toe. Back leg is straight but not locked. Shoulder width between feet. Forward and back feet are rooted. If feet are too narrow (not shoulders width apart) you are not stable. Back foot points to corner or 45 degrees. Weight is 60% front, 40% back.

6. What is an Empty Stance?

An Empty Stance is when your back leg and foot is pointed to the corner and the front foot is forward. The front foot touches with either the toe or heel. More weight is on the back leg and the front leg takes just a little bit of weight. The back leg knee is in line with toes. Do not cross heels. Stay on the other side of the centerline between the heels. Footwork is narrower. Weight is 30% front, 70% back. Do not lean back - keep centered.

7. When practicing Tai Chi, should we concentrate on our breathing?

Breathing is natural, even. Sink your chi to the dantian. We don't talk too much about coordinating breathing with movements. With long movements you must breathe naturally - don't stop breathing because your energy will stop, chi will stop, and so movements and breath should be natural. Movements have to be coordinated with breath with simple movements.

8. What are some other things we should remember when practicing Tai Chi?

Mouth: Keep mouth closed but not closed. Naturally closed. When mouth is dry, yin is not enough then cannot have yang.

Tongue: Touch tip of tongue to the roof of your mouth. This helps keep the mouth moist.

Shape of hand: Lift slightly, extend, bend your fingers, slight space between fingers. Same shape of palm. Don't go too soft or hard.

Relax: Remember to open the joints, tendons and bones while unifying the entire body during your practice. Tai Chi is a "whole body" exercise. The waist is very important as it leads your entire body. Energy is led from your root, which is located in the feet, exploded by the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed by the hands.

9. How does the body move while practicing Tai Chi chuan?

The upper body is light, the middle body is flexible and the lower body solid and heavy.

10. How do we keep upper body light and lower body solid?

Do not use too much force to keep the upper body light.
Keep your chi sinking down to keep the lower body solid.

11. How do we keep our chi sinking down?

Do not hold your breath - keep breathing naturally. When you are calm, then your chi automatically sinks down.

12. What does it mean to be double weighted?

Double weighted means that your "empty" and "full" are not clear. It makes it so you are not able to transfer between empty and full so you are not able to be flexible and agile. It makes your breathing unnatural, your energy stiff, and your whole body not flexible.

13. Sometimes Tai Chi is referred to as the Long Fist. What is the meaning of Long Fist?

In the Tai Chi form the energy is continuously moving - no stopping. Like clouds moving, water flowing - it never stops.

With other forms of martial arts the meaning is the form is fast, movements are large but with Tai Chi it means that the energy continues like water, like clouds.

14. What are the three treasures of the human body?

Jing (Essence)
Chi (Qi) (Vital Energy)
Shen (Spirit)

"Accumulate Shen to promote Chi
Accumulate Chi to promote Jing
Refine Jing until it becomes Chi
Refine Chi into Shen
Refine Shen to emptiness
This is the way to strengthen, support and increase the Jing, Chi and Shen of the body."

15. What is Jing (Essence)?

Jing is a basic component of the human body and serves as a basis for vital activity. It is what we get from what we eat, the sun, the moon. In the Jing/Chi pair, Jing is more like Yin.

16. How does Jing (Essence) relate to Chi (Qi)?

The meaning of Chi is simply, life! Life is due to the coming together of Chi, and death is due to the dispersion of Chi. It is a force promoting the activity of the human body. Chi coexists with Jing. Where there is Chi, there is Jing. Where there is Jing, there must be Chi. Chi is like energy. Chi is more like Yang.

17. What is Shen (Spirit)?

Shen is derived from Jing and Chi, plus it has a substantial basis (Jing + Chi = Shen.) Shen is the outward manifestation of the cooperating action of Jing and Chi. Where Chi is strong, there will be Shen. Where Chi is absent, Shen will weaken. Shen moves along with Chi and Jing. The substance of Shen manifests itself in bodily appearance.

18. How Can we Raise our Shen (Spirit)?

By follow the 10 Principles of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan, the entire body is loose (song) and open allowing the (Jingshen) Vital Energy to be cultivated and be able to raise. Your spirit comes from your heart and shows out through your eyes. You must use your attention and concentration to help your spirit raise up.

19. What is Wu De?

Wu De (martial virtue) is the established code of conduct (morals) for martial artists and covers two main areas: the actions and the mind set of the Practitioner.

In The Action, one should express Humility, Respect, Righteousness, Trust, and Loyalty.

In The Mind, one must have Will, Endurance, Perseverance, Patience, and Courage.

20. What morals should we be adhering to?

Be a nice person. Respect each other, especially your elders.

Recommended Reading and Study Material

Art of War by Sun Tzu
I/Ching
How to Practice Tai Chi Chuan by Yang Chengfu
Yang Style Taijiquan by Yang Zhenduo
Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan by Fu Zhongwen
Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Traditional Form (103) DVD by Yang Jun
Chinese Medical Books
Chinese Cultural Books
Footnotes

[1] This four-character phrase is probably the most difficult one in all of Tai Chi literature to translate. I have chosen to regard each of the four words as filling the function of a predicate or verb-phrase. Another fairly obvious approach would be to take the first two as adverbial and the last two as subject-predicate: "Empty and lively, the apex is energetic." Many other interpretations are possible.

[2] In Chinese thought the waist tends to be regarded as the space between two vertebrae, rather than a circle girdling the middle of the body.

[3] External martial arts such as Shaolin are thought to use energy from parts or sections of the body, as opposed to the 'whole-body' energy of Tai Chi.

Reprinted with permission from Grandmaster Yang Jun

The History of Tai Chi Chuan

In the traditional Chinese martial arts there are a several famous centers of Kung –Fu which are well known not only in China but in the whole World. From them- without doubt- the most famous one is the monastery of Shao Lin, which is located in the Sun Shin mountain in Henan province. Besides the Shao Lin monastery there are also two more centers where original and independent martial arts have been developed. These are the Wu Dang Mountain school in the Hubei province and the school of the E Mei Mountain in Sun Chuan Province. The Wu Dang school has developed the so called “inner” styles of Kung- Fu (Neidzya) to which Tai Chi Chuan (The boxing of the great bound) counts, together with Xing I Chuan (The Boxing of the guided mind), Ba Gua Djang (The Boxing of the eight Trigrams) and many more.

According to some historical evidences the Wu Dang school was founded in the Tang dynasty (618 – 906). In a later period a great contribution to the development of the school was brought by the Daoist hermit Zhang Sanfeng (1247 – 1397), who is believed to be born in the ninth day of the fourth month of the Dinuei Year (1247) in the hour of the Rabbit (Mao).

There are two legends about how Tai Chi Chuan has been created. According to the first one it was while Zhang was observing a fight between a snake and a crane when he suddenly saw the principle of Dao through their movements. The other legend says that the god of war- the Hui Di spirit, a protector of the North and an inhabitant of the North Star- gave Zhang Sanfeng in his dreams, in a form of revelation the martial art of Tai Chi Chuan. The teacher and the mentor of Zhang Sanfeng in Zhang’s path “towards achieving immortality” was the Daoist master Hou Lun and Zhang remained a student of him for 13 years. Zhang Sanfeng used to have five favorite pursuits. He practiced his saber techniques under moon light in order to gather Yang energy. During the night he practiced Tai Chi Chuan in order to achieve strength. He improved his breath through developing his Chi by climbing the mountainsides of the Wu Dang mountain. Through meditation he enlightened his human nature. Through reading classical texts he cleared his mind in the rainy days and nights. Later, in his honor was built the “Blue Cloud” monastery, where even nowadays Doist monks practice the Wu Dang styles, famous for their perfection. In the time period known in Europe as “The Middle Ages” and even latter many famous masters of Kung Fu were trained in the Wu Dang mountain and drew knowledge from the canons of this classical school. Amongst them are two emperors.

What distinguishes however the Wu Dang styles from the other styles of Kung Fu and makes them so specific? On the first place- this are the complex and rounded movements, which are executed freely and spontaneously without the extreme physical efforts so typical for the “harder” styles of the Shao Lin school. The techniques of the inner styles that derive from the Wu Dang styles are soft, flexible and smooth like a water stream. This softness however is very deceiving and dangerous for the enemy. One should know that the principles of these techniques are very deep and they find their roots in the philosophy of Daoism and the laws of nature. Vey often the power of the enemy is used against him.

In the bared hand combat are applied more leading and evading techniques than hard and stiff blocking ones. The Wu Dang school is also famous for the perfect use of a sword (Wu Dang Dsien). In the upper levels of mastery the sword isn’t supposed to meet the weapon of the enemy but only his body. This outstanding ability is achieved through remarkable foot maneuver that is very characteristic for the Wu Dang style.

Nowadays the serious practitioners of martial arts turn their sights even more and more often towards the true values of Kung- Fu offered by the Wu Dang school. The originality, the diversity and the efficiency of the styles deriving from this school win more and more followers.

The other version about the heritage of Tai Chi Chuan
 

Another version about the creation of Tai Chi Chuan says that after finishing his military career the professional warrior Chen Uanting has settled into the village of Chenjiagou, Henan province. There was the first time when he started teaching his students a system of martial arts that highly resembles the system of Tai Chi Chuan. This version is supported by the most of the historical sources.

The system of Chen consisted of the complexes “13-move form”, “108-move form” of Chanchuan, “The long fist” and “Paochui”. In the technical aspect those forms were based on the style from the tractate Chuandzin, which is assigned to Tsi Dzigun from the from the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644).

Because of the reasons stated above the martial art of Chen Uanting looked more like to the “outer” fighting systems (weidzya). Only after achieving old age, under the strong influence of Daoism Chen imported much softer, suppler and more rounded moves and techniques, which were the fundamentals of the today’s Chen style. Through these new techniques Chen wanted to draw the attention of the practitioner to the right way of breathing and the float of Chi according to the daoist health conceptions. It is interesting to mention that the “Push hands” exercises he introduced to his students than are kept almost unchanged until nowadays. After the death of Chen Uanting the development of Tai hi Chuan continues in two directions. The first- “laodzya” or “old style” was closer to the original form and the second- “xingdzya” or “new style”, which based on the same principals of the original form, but it was shortened and simplified.

The real recognition of Tai Chi Chuan comes when the style exceeds the bounds of Chenjiagou and ceases being only a family style. The man, however, who has the greatest contribution to the popularization of Tai Chi Chuan isn’t born there, but in the Hubei province. His name is Yang Luchan and he is the founder of the Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan. His other name of Yang Luchan was Yang Fukui. Born in the year of 1799, deceased in the year of 1872.  

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History of Yang family

Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan is one of the gems in the realm of Chinese martial arts. Ever since the founder of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Yang Lu Chan, his sons Yang Ban Hou and Yang Jian Hou, his grandsons Yang Shao Hou and Yang Cheng Fu, and his great-grandsons Yang Zhen Ming, Yang Zhen Ji, Yang Zhen Duo, and Yang Zhen Guo have all worked together to research, change, develop, and spread Tai Chi Chuan. Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan has become extended and graceful, carefully structured, relaxed, gentle and flowing, while still maintaining the martial arts aspects. It is also a method for improving health and curing illness. Tai Chi Chuan is loved by tens of millions of practitioners, spreading Tai Chi Chuan at home and abroad. It has become the most popular of all Chinese martial arts, providing a remarkable contribution to the health of mankind.


Yang Lu Chan

 

Yang Fu Kui, later called Yang Lu Chan (the "Lu" having two different Chinese characters as accepted) was born in 1799 and died in 1872. Yang Lu Chan's family was from Hebei Province, Guangping Prefecture, Yongnian County and since childhood his family was poor. He would follow his father in planting the fields and as a teenager held temporary jobs. One period of temporary work was spent in doing odd jobs at the Tai He Tang Chinese pharmacy located in the west part of Yongnian City (the pharmacy was opened by Chen De Hu of the Chen Village in Henan Province, Huaiqing Prefecture, Wen County). As a child, Yang Lu Chan liked martial arts and started studying Chang Chuan, gaining a certain level of skill. One day he saw some hoodlums who came to the pharmacy looking for trouble. One of the partners of the pharmacy used a kind of martial art that Yang Lu Chan had never before seen to easily subdue the troublemakers. Because of this, Yang Lu Chan decided to study with the owner of the Tai He Tang pharmacy, Cheng De Hu. He saw that Yang Lu Chan came from the heart and was eager to study and sent Yang Lu Chan to the Chen Village to seek the 14th generation of the Chen Family Chen Chang Xing as his teacher.


Yang Ban Hou

 

The momentum created in the Tai Chi world by Yang Lu Chan throughout his lifetime did not stop with his death in 1872. Yang Lu Chan transmitted all of his knowledge to his two sons, Yu, nicknamed Ban Hou, and Jian, nicknamed Jian Hou, who became the 2nd generation representatives of the Yang Family. Yang Yu, also named Yang Ban Hou, but referred to as the "2nd Son" by all, was born in 1837 and died in 1892. From an early age he and Jian Hou followed their father studying Tai Chi Chuan. All day long Ban Hou would practice hard, undeterred by winter's cold or summer's heat. Yang Ban Hou had a hard and fierce disposition. He was skilled at sparring, and especially adept in using the staff (made of bai la wood, over three meters long, and used in the same way as the spear). One day in Yongnian City, inside the stalls located at the East Gate, a fire started due to carelessness. Water surrounded all of Yongnian City and it teemed with reeds. It was late fall, after the harvest, and inside the stall bundles of reeds were piled up into a small mountain. Once one of the stalls caught fire, if it was not put out quickly it would turn into an inferno. At this time, Yang Ban Hou rushed to the scene wielding a spear, lifting and throwing the fiery bundles of reeds. The burning bundles flew through the air like a string of fish, and almost instantly they were all in the water. With the fire extinguished and conflagration avoided, the word of his deed spread quickly through the city.


 

Yang Jian Hou

 

Yang Jian, called Jian Hou, was nicknamed Jian Hu and called "3rd Son" until his later years when he was referred to as just "old man". Born in 1842, he started studying Tai Chi Chuan with his father at a young age. Under the strict requirements of his father he would practice hard all day. Frequently feeling that he could not endure it any longer, he tried several times to run away. It was clear that working hard daily at practicing gongfu under his father's watchful eye caused his skill to greatly improve. Finally he became a man of great talent. Jian Hou took his father's old frame and revised it into the medium frame. He also mastered the saber, spear, sword and other weapons. His sword skill was renowned for combining softness and hardness. Jian Hou even mastered using pellets (dan4). He would hold three or four in his hand at one time and when thrown simultaneously each would strike a different bird in flight. He earned the fame of not wasting one pellet when thrown.



Yang Shao Hou

 


Yang Zhao Xiong was born in 1862 and died in 1930. Also named Meng Xiang, and later called Shao Hou, most just called him "Mr. Big". From very young he studied with his father and his uncle. He learned the greater part of his skill from Ban Hou. His nature was forceful and he would stand up for injustices suffered by others. Shao Hou enjoyed sending people flying, rather like his uncle's style. When he was young he taught the middle frame established by his father, but later changed direction. He developed a form that was high with small movements done in a sometimes slow and sometimes sudden manner. His releasing of energy (fajin) was hard and crisp, accompanied with sudden sounds. The spirit from his eyes would shoot out in all directions, flashing like lightning. Combined with a sneer, a sinister laugh, and the sounds of "Heng!" and "Ha!", his imposing manner was quite threatening. Shao Hou taught students to strike quickly after coming into contact with the opponent, wearing expressions from the full spectrum of emotions when he taught them.



Yang Cheng Fu

 


Yang Zhao Qing, called Cheng Fu, or just "3rd Son", was born in 1883 and died in 1936. He started receiving his father's teachings at an early age. During his youth he worked hard at making a careful study of Tai Chi, practicing hard through both summer and winter with his skill increasing daily. Eventually he became a celebrated martial artist. In order to adapt to the changing needs of society, Yang Cheng Fu began with his father's revised middle frame, and made further revisions. He gradually established the Yang family large frame, becoming the most widespread of today's Yang styles. The large frame postures established by Yang Cheng Fu in his older years are open and extended, simple and direct. The structure is compact and precise, with body alignment maintained in movement. The movements are gentle and flowing, and performed at an even speed. There is combined hardness and softness, lightness and heaviness. All of these characteristics make it the representative standard form for Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan, serving as the pattern for all those who would follow in its study. The form established by Yang Cheng Fu can be performed in a high, medium, or low stance. Thus, the degree of difficulty can be adjusted according to the one's requirements and condition. The form retains the martial arts aspects of attack and defense, and is suitable for strengthening the body, improving health, and curing illness. Because of this, it has deeply received the love of the vast Tai Chi Chuan practitioners.


Yang Zhao Peng

 


Yang Ban Hou had one daughter, and a son called Zhao Peng. Zhao Peng studied with Yang Cheng Fu and then opened a school in Guangxi, where he later passed away.


Yang Shou Zhong

 


Yang Zhen Ming, called Shou Zhong, was born in 1911 and died in 1986. From a young age on he followed his father in studying the art of Tai Chi Chuan. By age 14 he had comprehended the Tai Chi Chuan energies and was thoroughly proficient in the techniques of the saber, sword and spear and had become the assistant of his father, Yang Cheng Fu. Shou Zhong at age 19 went to Anhui Province and later taught Tai Chi in Nanjing. After that he traveled with his father, passing through Zhejiang, Fujian, and Guangdong Provinces. After Yang Cheng Fu passed away, Shou Zhong stayed in Guangzhou (Canton) to teach. In 1949 he moved to Hong Kong and opened a martial arts school where he taught.


Yang Zhen Ji


Yang Zhen Ji, born in 1921, started studying with his father and elder brother at age 6. He studied very hard, grasping the essence of Tai Chi Chuan. In the late 1940's he began teaching Tai Chi Chuan. He traveled from Guangzhou (Canton) to Beijing, to Tianjin, to Guangxi, and to Handan to teach. Because he teaches very earnestly, his students are quite numerous and he once visited the United States. Zhen Ji, after several decades of practice and teaching, has gained a deep understanding of the skill passed on by his father. 


Yang Zhen Duo

 


Yang Zhen Duo, born in 1926, began studying the art of Tai Chi Chuan at age 6 with his father and elder brothers. He studied assiduously and was good at research, and was able to grasp the essence of Tai Chi. His Tai Chi skill is consummate and demonstrated with a natural poise. Yang Zhen Duo's disposition is tolerant and kind, simple hearted and honest. He teaches patiently, carefully and meticulously. Modest and unassuming as was his father, he has come to receive the deep admiration and esteem of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan enthusiasts. Zhen Duo carries on the aspirations of his ancestors, dedicating himself to the popularization and spread of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan. Since the early 1960's on, he has lived in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, teaching Tai Chi Chuan. In 1982 he founded the Shanxi Province Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Association, now with students in Shanxi Province alone numbering in the tens of thousands. Many times he has been invited and traveled to America, France, Italy, Germany, England, Sweden, Canada, Brazil, Singapore, and other countries to hold seminars. Making an impression at home and abroad, Yang Zhen Duo has helped allow Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan to promote the ties of friendship between the citizens of China and the rest of the world.



Yang Zhen Guo

 


Yang Zhen Guo, born in 1928, started studying at an early age the Tai Chi passed on by his family. He lives in Hebei Province, Handan City, and for many years looked after his mother. He has ceaselessly taught Tai Chi Chuan all around the local area. He once visited Taiwan, and has made a fairly significant contribution towards the development of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan. Zhen Guo has three daughters and two sons, Yong Fang being the first and Zhi Fang the second son.


Yang Jun

 


Born in 1968 in Taiyuan, Grandmaster Yang Jun is the 5th Generation descendant of the creator of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan. Son of Yang Dao Fang and grandson of Master Yang Zhen Duo, Yang Jun is the future bearer of the Yang Family heritage.

Grandmaster Yang Jun began his training with GrandmasterYang Zhen Duo when he was only 5 years old. He is proficient in Tai Chi Chuan, Sword, Saber, Push Hands, and many other forms of Tai Chi. Beginning in 1982 when they went to Singapore, Grandmaster Yang Zhen Duo has taken Yang Jun with him whenever he traveled abroad to teach. Now, after nearly twenty years and dozens of seminars around the world, Yang Jun has become a teacher in his own right. His skill is unquestioned. His forms seamlessly combine softness with hardness, finesse with flair, and restraint with expression.

Since 1995, Yang Jun has served as the Vice President of Operations and Training of the Shanxi Province Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Association with over 30,000 members in his hometown province of Shanxi. In October 1998 Yang Jun created the International Association and has served as President since. In August of 1999 Yang Jun moved to Seattle with his wife Fang Hong to formally begin working for the International Association and to establish a school in Seattle. Yang Jun represents the first member of the Yang Family to live outside of China.

Grandmaster Yang Jun graduated from Shanxi University in 1989 with a degree in physical education. In 1995 the Chinese WuShu Academy recognized him as a famous WuShu master in Shanxi Province. In 1996 he was certified as the highest level national judge and served as the head judge at the 1998 National Tai Chi Chuan Competition in China.