There are five main styles of Tai Chi Chuan, in order of seniority:
- Chen style
- Yang style
- Wu or Wu/Hao style
- Wu style
- Sun style
In order of popularity, the Yang style of Tai Chi
Chuan is most widely known and practiced around the world, and is derived
from the Chen style, and followed by the other three main offshoots: Wu,
Wu (Hou) and the Sun.
History speaks of Yang Lu Chan (1799 – 1872) who was
employed in the home of the Chen family wanting to learn Tai Chi Chuan.
But, as tradition dictated only family members could learn this ancient
martial art, so he had no other recourse, when frustrated after patiently
awaiting instruction, than to spy on the private exercises of the Chen
family, and secretly practice, what he saw, on his own.
One day he was surprised by the Grand Master Chen
Chang Xing while practicing and was asked to demonstrate what he had
learned. The Grand Master was so astonished at Yang Lu Chan’s mastery that
he decided to take him as his student.
Yang Lu Chan continued to practice for several years,
and unsatisfied, returned several more times until on his third return he
deemed that his mastery and technique were insurmountable.
Moved by his perseverance and capabilities, and
having become his best student, Grand Master Chen Chang Xing granted him
the secret knowledge of Tai Chi Chuan.
Later Grand Master Yang Lu Chan began to teach the
Chinese Emperor’s guards, and his court, adapting the style to fit the
elders, the physically challenged, or ill among the emperor’s court.
Soon it was evident that the weak became stronger and
the health of the infirm improved. He gradually awakened to realize the
true and great possibilities and potential of Tai Chi Chuan not only as a
martial art, but as a health benefit.
Yang Lu Chan had three sons, and passed this
knowledge on to two of them, Yang Ban Hou (1837 – 1892) and Yang Jian Hou
(1842 – 1911). In turn, Jian Hou had three sons, two of whom continued the
tradition, the eldest Yang Shao Hou (1862 – 1930), and youngest Yang Cheng
Fu (1883 – 1936). It was this youngest brother that brought forth the true
Yang style of Tai Chi Chuan, as his grandfather, father, uncle, and older
brother practiced and taught an adapted form of the Chen style.
Thus was born the authentic Yang style, with its
singular and unique identity that easily stands out, and lauded by the
Chen family themselves.
The Grand Master Yang Cheng Fu passed through three
stages in his practices and teachings. The first was one that was passed
down from his ancestors; the second was a modified variation of the same;
and lastly, the third stage was perfected and highly evolved. His work was
Yang Cheng Fu became the most famous Tai Chi Chuan
Master, for his invincibility and for having spread Tai Chi Chuan
Of the Grand Master’s four sons, the first one has
now passed away, the second son is now very old, and the third, the Grand
Master Yang Zhen Duo is who currently presides over the family. In 1982 he
created the Association for Traditional Tai Chi Chuan of Shanxi, China
over which he presides. Every five years professors and students from
around the world gather in celebration to commemorate its founding, taking
part in exhibits and tournaments.
Grand Master Yang Zhen Duo left China for the first
time in the 1980s to restore the true Tai Chi Chuan to the rest of the
world. He had heard of and witnessed the many mutations of his family’s
art that had taken place, to the detriment of the potential and
substantial benefits that this implied.
Upon his departure, China’s Sports Minister announced:
“We are sending our best and most authentic Master of this art.” So it was
that the Grand Master and his grandson, Master Yang Jun formed in 1998 the
International Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Association to impart there art
through the Yang Cheng Fu Tai Chi Chuan Centers, named after the father.
Today there are more than 30 centers worldwide, 5 of them in South America.
In Argentina since 1999.
The Masters that descend down through the generations
of the Yang family have elevated the art of Tai Chi Chuan to be recognized
as a National Treasure in China, while having given this great gift to the
rest of the world.
Note : All historical
data has been taken from personal documents belonging to the Yang family.