Complete history and chronology of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan

Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan

Yang Lu-chan (1799 - 1872) learned the old-frame style from Chen Chang-hsing. Many stories tell how this took place. A popular one holds that Yang wanted to learn the art, but the Chen family would not teach outsiders. So Yang took a job as a servant for the Chen's and learned t'ai-chi by watching through a crack in the wall. Afterward, he would practice what he learned when he alone in his room. One day he was discovered and asked to spar with the other students. He easily defeated all of them and was taken under the wing of Chen Chang-hsing, who then taught him the whole old-frame style. Yang is said to have spent the next six years studying under Chen. (Some historians say he studied for 13 years and others 18 years)
Yang eventually returned to his hometown of Kuang Ping (also spelled Guang Ping) and taught the old-frame Chen style. He later traveled to Beijing and became a military martial arts teacher for the Manchu government. After he altered the sequence of the movements in his form, it later became known as the Yang style.
Some modern practitioners claim that Yang watered down the art he taught to the Manchus and reserved a different version of it for his townspeople and family. But this may be just a selling point for those who insist they teach the only "authentic" form.
It is important to remember that Yang played a pivotal role in opening the once-closed art to the outside world. Two facts are significant: He learned the old-frame Chen style, and he was never beaten in combat. Even as a beginner, he defeated all of Chen's students. For those who claim he didn't learn all the secrets of the Chen family, this action speaks louder than any speculation. Because of his victories in challenge matches, he acquired the nickname "Yang the Invincible". Nevertheless, he always avoided hurting his opponent in a match. Two of his sons carried on his art and family tradition: Yang Pan-hou (a.k.a. Yang Yu) and Yang Chien-hou (a.k.a. Yang Jian). The senior Yang also taught Wu Yu-hsiang and was friends with Tung Hai-chuan, who was the founder of pa kua chang (bagua zhang) another major "Internal Style" of kung-fu. It would be easy to speculate there was some influence of pa-kua over the Yang's t'ai-chi ch'uan and Yang's t'ai-chi ch'uan over Tung's pa-kua chang.


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