Yang Style History

This is almost what I wrote on the danish pages, but it takes long to translate, so I have just nicked this usefull peace of information fromTed Knecht's page.

Yang style Taiji Chuan originated during the 19th century in the Tao Kuang Period of the
Qing Dynasty. Up to the present day, the style has had a history of only approximately
150 years; however, Yang style Taiji Chuan has already spread throughout the world and
is practiced by millions of people each day.

Yang Lu Chan - The Chen Village Years

The founder of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan was Yang Fu Kui (1799-1872), also known as
Yang Lu Chan. Lu Chan was born of a peasant family in the village of Nan Guan in the
county of Yong Nian which is a part of the Guang Ping Prefecture of Hebei Province. The
martial arts history of the Yong Nian county area was very rich and prosperous, and as a
young boy, Lu Chan studied Shaolin boxing skills.

Yang Lu Chan

One day while Lu Chan was working in a local grain store, a rude man came into the Tai
He pharmacy next to where Lu Chan was working. The man wanted to buy some
expensive herbs, but was only willing to pay a cheap price. The man shouted and waved
his fists. The next thing Lu Chan saw was the man being thrown into the street without
any effort by the pharmacy owner. Lu Chan felt this was quite odd for a person to be able
to do such a feat without the use of force. The name of the pharmacy owner was Chen De
Hu. After a few days had passed, Lu Chan built up enough courage and went to Chen De
Hu to ask to become his student. Chen was at first fairly cautious, but after seeing that
Lu Chan was upright and honest, he told Lu Chan he was from the Chen Village (Chen
Jia Gou) in Wen Xian County of Henan Province. He said there were many people who
studied Tai Chi Chuan in the village. He also explained that his teacher was the famous
Tai Chi Chuan master, Chen Chang Xing. Upon hearing this, Lu Chan was very excited
and immediately wanted Chen De Hu to introduce him to Chen Chang Xing.

The Chen Village Tai Chi Chuan style was created between the end of the Ming Dynasty
and beginning of the Qing Dynasty. The basic standardization of Chen style Tai Chi
Chuan was by the 9th generation ancestor of the Chen Village, Chen Wang Ting. Chen
De Hu agreed upon the introduction to his teacher. Upon the acceptance of the
introduction, Lu Chan immediately left Yong Nian to go to the Chen Village. While Lu
Chan was under the tutelage of Chen Chang Xing, he trained continuously without any
interruption no matter if it was winter or summer. After six years of training, Lu Chan
finally returned to his home town. During the period in which Lu Chan was gone, many
people in the village practiced martial arts and wanted to test Lu Chan’s newly acquired
skills. Lu Chan was challenged to a duel in which he was defeated. Even though he had
lost the duel, he did not lose hope. He returned to the Chen Village to train for an
additional six years. The second time he returned home was during the Chinese New
Year. The people were excited that Lu Chan had returned and thought he would be
unbeatable. In the same area there was a martial artist who had connections with the
Chen Village and who had studied many styles of martial arts. He also heard that Lu
Chan had returned home and wanted to test his skills. The result of the match was a
draw. Yang Lu Chan felt his skill level was not completely proficient even though he was
able to hold his own against such a highly skilled martial artist; therefore he decided to
return to his teacher a third time. The third trip to the Chen Village moved Chen Chang
Xing so much that he began to teach Lu Chan everything he knew. After two years of
study, Chen Chang Xing said that when Lu Chan returned home this time, there would be
no one who could defeat him. Subsequently, Lu Chan returned home and was never
defeated again.

Yang Lu Chan studied at the Chen Village for a total of 18 years. Although he obtained
the true teachings of Chen Chang Xing’s Tai Chi Chuan style, he still was not satisfied
with his own abilities. Lu Chan constantly researched every aspect of his style until he
achieved an enlightened level of skill and his fame was known to all.

Yang Lu Chan - The Beijing Years

Not long after, Lu Chan was invited by Wu Lu Ching, a distant relative, to teach his
martial arts in the capital of Beijing. Wu Lu Ching was a government official of Emperor
Tao Kuang. Upon arriving in the capital, Lu Chan was a guest at the home of a wealthy
businessman named Mr. Zhang. Mr. Zhang’s business was small at first, but later
became very large and prosperous. Their organization also included instruction in
various types of martial arts training. The first occasion to meet the Zhang family was
during a banquet in which everyone was to perform his respective martial art. One of the
heads of the Zhang family saw the thin body of Yang Lu Chan, and as an insult, placed
Lu Chan behind an ordinary martial artist preparing to demonstrate. After Yang Lu Chan
performed his style, Mr. Zhang asked if the “Cotton Fist” of Yang Lu Chan could
actually defeat an opponent. Lu Chan replied by saying that except for bronze, iron, and
rock, his fist could defeat anything with flesh and blood. Consequently, the man asked if
Lu Chan would take a challenge from him. Lu Chan agreed without hesitation not only to
take a challenge from this man but also from anyone else at the banquet. Following, the
guests went out into the garden court to witness the contest. When the contest first
began, a martial arts master came running toward Lu Chan as fierce as a tiger. As the
two met, Lu Chan raised his arms and the man flew back several meters through the air.
Immediately following, another master came up and challenged Lu Chan. Without
completing one technique, the man was thrown back several meters onto the ground.
After seeing this, the others did not dare challenge the skills of Yang Lu Chan. Upon
returning to the banquet hall, Lu Chan was seated at the head table and was toasted by
everyone. From that day on, Lu Chan began teaching Tai Chi Chuan at the Zhang

After the martial contest at the Zhang residence, people from everywhere came to
challenge Yang Lu Chan; however, all who challenged Lu Chan fell beneath his fist.
From that point onward, Yang Lu Chan was given the title of “Yang the Invincible”. Wu
Lu Qing introduced Lu Chan to many people within the royal Qing government to whom
he taught Tai Chi Chuan. This allowed the art of Tai Chi Chuan to become very popular
in the capital; moreover, the royal family invited Yang Lu Chan to their residence to live
and teach. Subsequently, Lu Chan brought his two sons to the capital to teach Tai Chi
Chuan at the palace.

Yang Pan Hou

Yang pan Hou (1837-1892) was the second child of Yang Lu Chan. pan Hou had practiced
Tai Chi Chuan from childhood under the supervision of his father. His skill level was
very high. His character was very firm even though he had a very hot temper. There was
one time when a martial arts master nicknamed “Man with 10,000 Pounds of Strength”
came to Beijing to challenge Yang Lu Chan. After the Yang family heard of the news,
Yang Lu Chan did not pay much attention to the matter. However, Yang Pan Hou said to
his father that “if our store has something to sell and people want to buy it, why don’t we
sell?” What Pan Hou meant was that his family had true martial ability, so why not take
the challenge. Consequently, Pan Hou went by himself to take the challenge from the
man. When the contest began, the man threw his shirt off and showed his muscles to the
crowd. Yang Pan Hou with his skinny body just stood waiting for the man to attack. When
the fight commenced, the only image seen was the man pouncing toward Pan Hou. Pan
Hou evaded the attack. The man immediately attacked with continuous strikes to Pan
Hou’s face. The crowd heard a yell and immediately following, the man went flying
through the air several meters into the distance. When everyone was able to see clearly,
they realized that Pan Hou used “Separate Heel Kick” to the man’s groin area. While
the crowd was still cheering and admiring Pan Hou’s skill, he returned silently back to
the palace.

Yang Jian Hou and His Children

Yang Lu Chan’s third child was Yang Jian Hou (1839-1917). His Tai Chi Chuan skills
were a harmonious blend of hard and soft. He was especially talented at issuing internal
energy and the practice of broadsword, straightsword, and spear. His character was very
warm-hearted. Whenever Jian Hou competed and trained with others, he never looked
light-heartedly upon anyone; therefore, he too was never defeated.

The third generation of Yang style martial artists consisted of Yang Ling Xiao
(1872-1930), also known as Yang Zhao Peng, who was Yang Pan Hou’s son. He studied
with Chen Xiu Feng who was one of Pan Hou’s disciples. The first son of Yang Jian Hou
was Yang Zhao Xiong (1862-1930), also known as Yang Shao Hou. Shao Hou studied Tai
Chi Chuan from his youth and was very good at sparring. His movements were fast and
his posture was rooted. The Yang style small frame was transmitted by Shao Hou. There
are very few people who know the small frame style. Some people see the style as
strictly for fighting and do not wish to teach others. Therefore, this may be the reason
why practitioners of this style are becoming fewer and fewer. Yang style small frame
leans more toward the fighting aspect rather than health. Because it is performed with
quick motions, the style is sometimes called Tai Chi Fast Frame or the Fast Small Frame.

The small frame style was researched extensively by Yang Lu Chan for many years
whereby he took the essence of Tai Chi Chuan and the various fighting methods and
combined it to form a routine which incorporates qigong, massage, and the theory of the
meridian systems. The small frame style allows the entire body to receive maximum
benefits from small lively movements. The main points of the style are as follows: There
are over 200 postures in the routine which are performed in less than two minutes. The
practitioner must maintain a low stance whereby the head does not rise higher than four
feet above the ground. The fighting applications must be regularly practiced and
combined with internal energy. The small frame style is practiced mainly by younger
people and is quite different from what most people would consider Tai Chi Chuan. Small
frame Tai Chi Chuan not only incorporates speed, vitality, and lightness, but also
maintains the essence of relaxation, quiescence, roundness, and softness.

Yang Cheng Fu

The third son of Yang Jian Hou was Yang Zhao Qing (1883-1936), also known as Yang
Cheng Fu. Cheng Fu was a very warm-hearted, intelligent person. He trained under the
tutelage of his father in the deepest way. His Tai Chi Chuan skills were like an “iron
needle hidden in cotton". The characteristics of his postures were large, relaxed, and full
of vitality. The postures of Yang Cheng Fu’s large frame style can be divided into high,
medium, and low. The postures can be selected based upon the practitioners age, sex,
strength of body, and other various demands. Because of this, Yang style Tai Chi Chuan
is not only used to cure illness and to maintain health, but also is used to strengthen the
body and to develop a high level of martial combat skills. Consequently, many people
have found his Tai Chi Chuan most suitable.

Yang Chengfu

Yang Cheng Fu was born on July 7, 1883 and passed away on March 3, 1936. He studied
the art continuously in Beijing under the instructions of his father. Not until after the
passing of his father did Cheng Fu travel to southern China to teach. He taught in
various cities throughout China in such places as Wuhan, Hankou, Nanjing, Hangzhou

Some of Yang Cheng Fu’s students were Yang Sau Chung, Tung Ying Chieh, Fu Zhong
Wen, Yang Zhao Xin, Tian Zhao Ling, Chen Wei Ming, Zhang Qing Lin, Wang Ting Xing

In 1925, Yang Cheng Fu published the book, “The Art of Tai Chi Chuan”, using actual
photographs of Yang. Later in 1931, he published “The Applications of Tai Chi Chuan”
using new photographs. In 1928, he was invited to be the head of the Wudang section of
the Nanjing Central Guo Shu Academy. Later he was also invited to be the head of the
Zhejiang Provincial Guo Shu Academy in Hangzhou. In 1930, Cheng Fu settled in
Shanghai where he published the book entitled “The Complete Principle and Theory of
Tai Chi Chuan”. In 1932, he was invited by Chen Ji Tang and Li Zong Ren to teach in
the city of Guangzhou. Two years later he returned to Shanghai. After Yang Cheng Fu
traveled to southern China, he gradually moved away from the martial aspect of Tai Chi
Chuan to more of the health aspects. When Yang Cheng Fu first arrived in Shanghai, he
was invited to demonstrate at the “Soft Fist” Society. When Yang performed “Separate
Heel Kick” he issued much power causing a loud sound to be heard. Later, he changed
the kick to a slow and even movement. “Fist to Groin” originally issued much power at
the last moment of execution, but this was also changed to a slow and even motion. His
method of practice gradually changed to slow and continuous movements without any

Yang Cheng Fu was a very large person whose push hand skills were tremendous. His
sensitivity was very keen and agile. When he issued power, he was precisely on target;
his speed was lightning fast; and his striking distance was short so that he could throw a
person several meters through the air without harming his opponent. In fact, according to
some of his students, the feeling of being pushed by him was actually comfortable and

The Story of a Cotton Thread

In the year 1932, Master Yang Cheng Fu and his disciple, Fu Zhong Wen, traveled south
to the city of Guang Zhou in Guang Dong Province to teach the art of Tai Chi Chuan.
One day, a martial arts teacher by the name of Liu and his disciples went to the
residence of Master Yang. Upon observing the way in which Liu was dressed and the
manner in which he held himself, Master Yang knew that this man’s talents in fighting
were extraordinary. Upon meeting Yang Cheng Fu, Liu raised his hands, saluted Master
Yang and said: “It is well known that your skills in Tai Chi are superior and for three
generations your family has been without equals. I have especially come here to see
your skills.” Master Yang realized Liu was challenging him to a duel and that the conflict
would be unavoidable. Master Yang suddenly thought of an idea to prevent a fight but to
maintain the code of the martial world (Wu Lin). He told his disciple, Fu Zhong Wen, to
go and get out a one foot piece of cotton thread. Young Fu was shocked when he heard
this because the cotton thread was used as a training tool only among the indoor
disciples of the Yang style. It was never before shown to outsiders.

Master Yang warmed up by performing “Grasp Sparrow’s Tail” and “Cloud Hands";
thereupon, he took the cotton thread between his thumb and index finger and asked:
“Who has the strength of a thousand pounds to tear this piece of thread in half?” Upon
hearing this, Liu sneered at Master Yang while sending one of his disciples out to take
the challenge. The disciple grabbed the other end of the cotton thread and asked: “When
shall we begin?” Master Yang replied by saying: “It is completely up to you.” Following,
the disciple fiercely pulled at the thread. Master Yang adhered to his every move.
Suddenly the disciple reversed the direction of motion, however, Master Yang, without
hesitation, also moved in the same manner.

This went on for several rounds without the disciple being able to tear the thread in two.
While the thread was being pulled it remained straight no matter which direction the
force was being applied. Liu saw what was occurring and summoned his disciple to step
back. After Liu performed several exercises to warm up, he jumped into the air and
performed several tornado kicks. Immediately following this, he jumped toward Master
Yang as agile as a rabbit and grabbed the other end of the thread. Master Yang was just
as agile and moved in the same manner. Without hesitation, Liu jumped back in a
retreating maneuver while trying to break the thread; in the same instance, Master Yang
followed in Liu’s footsteps preventing the thread from being broken. Afterwards, Liu
shot forward as fast as an arrow, then darted to the left and then to the right, moving in
all directions. Within all of this motion, both Liu and Master Yang never made contact
with each other. The way in which the two moved was similar to a dragon lantern moving
in the night. Spectators witnessing the event were astonished by the skill of Yang Cheng
Fu. The entire time this was occurring the thread was never broken nor was it even bent.
The thread remained straight during the entire match. After a long period of trying to
break the thread, Liu was completely out of breath and covered with sweat. Master
Yang, on the other hand, was very calm and relaxed without any signs of exhaustion.

When the match was over, Liu realized that the skill level of Master Yang was very
extraordinary and therefore held a grand Panquet in honor of Master Yang. From that
day forth, both Liu and Master Yang became very good friends. In the same way as
Master Yang’s grandfather and father did before him, Yang Cheng Fu had developed his
skills of understanding energy (Dong Jin) and listening to energy (Ting Jin) to an
outstanding skill level. He was able to adhere and yield to every single move his
opponent performed and did not expend any energy. Even to this day, the story of how a
piece of thread can demonstrate martial skills is told in the martial arts community near
the Guang Zhou region.

Yang Lu Chan was able to build upon the basics of Chen style old frame Tai Chi Chuan
and make it more compatible for the common person to learn no matter what his age. At
that moment, people termed his style “Yang family Tai Chi Chuan”. The Yang style
passed through reform and constant improvement during the first two generations of
father and son. The formal standardization of the style finally occurred when it came into
Yang Cheng Fu’s hands. The postures became wide and comfortable; the structure was
strict and demanding; the body was upright and erect; and the movements were
harmoniously flowing, light, agile, and rooted.

Tai Chi Chuan Blossoms

It was because of the hard work of the third generation inheritor that Tai Chi Chuan
became popular and developed into what it is today. Moreover, this allowed the onset of
many other styles to flourish. An example of this was Wu Yu Xiang, a disciple of Wu Lu
Qing, who created Wu style Tai Chi Chuan. Wu Yu Xiang transmitted his style to Hao
Wei Zhen who later developed Hao style Tai Chi Chuan. Hao Wei Zhen passed his style
to Sun Lu Tang who created Sun style Tai Chi Chuan. Yang Pan Hou taught Chuan You
who then transmitted the art to his son, Wu Jian Chuan, thereby creating the other Wu
style Tai Chi Chuan.
In summation, it can be said that Yang style Tai Chi Chuan is the root of Wu, Hao
(partially), Sun, and Wu style Tai Chi Chuan. In 1956, the National Chinese Sports
Association extracted postures from Yang style Tai Chi Chuan to create a simplified
version of Tai Chi Chuan. Afterwards, the 88 posture and the 48 posture Tai Chi Chuan
routines were created.

Yang style Tai Chi Chuan has developed and advanced tremendously over a very short
historical time frame. This testifies to the importance Tai Chi Chuan has in the
prevention and healing of illnesses and the promotion of health and longevity. It is
possible that after the mutual exchange of ideas and knowledge between all Tai Chi
Chuan practitioners, Yang style Tai Chi Chuan can become internationally ranked and
can make great contributions to the health and well-being of the world.

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