History of Yang Tai chi
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 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 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 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.
Master Yang Jun is a 5th generation Yang family descendent. Born in Taiyuan, China, he grew up with his grandparents and watched his grandfather, Master Yang Zhenduo, train students. He began training with his grandfather at age five. Later, he began assisting his grandfather at seminars in China. After graduating from Shanxi University in 1989 with a degree in physical education, he began traveling with his grandfather to help teach internationally.
In 1998, the International Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Association was created by Master Yang Jun and Master Yang Zhenduo with the mission of bringing Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan practitioners together and promoting a system to share the family’s standard of practice of Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan worldwide to help humankind. Master Yang Jun left China in 1999 and moved to Seattle to begin developing the association internationally.
He became the first Yang family member to spread his family’s art in the West. Despite many significant challenges of moving to a new country and culture, including a language barrier, he succeeded in growing the association to currently include over 46 Yang Family Tai Chi Centers and over 37 Yang Family Tai Chi Schools on five continents with teachers in 24 countries. This spreading of Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan internationally has been one of his finest achievements.
He also contributed to increasing tai chi chuan’s visibility in the West by leading the organization of the 2009 and 2014 International Tai Chi Chuan Symposiums in Nashville, Tennessee and Louisville, Kentucky. These events brought grandmasters from the traditional schools of tai chi chuan from China to the USA to teach seminars and exchange ideas with scientists conducting research related to tai chi chuan. At the 2009 symposium, Master Yang Zhenduo officially named Master Yang Jun the 5th generation direct-line inheritor of Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan.
Currently a director at the Seattle/Redmond Yang Family Tai Chi Center in Redmond, Washington, Master Yang Jun frequently travels nationally and internationally to teach. Since 2016, he has travelled more frequently to China to develop Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan in that country. His greatest wish is to unite practitioners in China and the West into one big family where despite national borders and cross-cultural differences, everyone is linked together through their love of tai chi chuan.
Source: Yang Family Tai chi chuan organization website