The Story Of Their LivesThe History of the Yang Family
Biographies of the Most Famous Masters of the Yang Family
The 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.
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.
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 How
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.
Born in 1968 in Taiyuan, Master Yang Jun is the 6th 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.
Master Yang Jun began his training with Master Yang 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, Master 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.
Master 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.