Yang Shao Hou
Yang Zhao Xiong was born in 1862 and died in 1930. Also named Meng Xiang, and later called Shao Hou, most just called him “Mr. Big”. From very young he studied with his father and his uncle. He learned the greater part of his skill from Ban Hou. His nature was forceful and he would stand up for injustices suffered by others. Shao Hou enjoyed sending people flying, rather like his uncle’s style. When he was young he taught the middle frame established by his father, but later changed direction. He developed a form that was high with small movements done in a sometimes slow and sometimes sudden manner. His releasing of energy (fajin) was hard and crisp, accompanied with sudden sounds. The spirit from his eyes would shoot out in all directions, flashing like lightning. Combined with a sneer, a sinister laugh, and the sounds of “Heng!” and “Ha!”, his imposing manner was quite threatening. Shao Hou taught students to strike quickly after coming into contact with the opponent, wearing expressions from the full spectrum of emotions when he taught them.
Students with fewer skills passed difficult times with him, therefore he didn’t have many of them. Shao Hou had a son called Zheng Sheng that later studied with Yang Cheng Fu.
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 Cheng Fu was of robust constitution. His natural disposition was kind and good-hearted, simple and honest, confident and sincere with people. In the martial arts world, his morality and his prestige was very great. His skills at Tui Shou (push hands) was exquisite.
Excellent when issuing (fa1) and neutralizing (hua4) energy, at his time he had not equal. His arms were like iron wrapped in cotton.
With small movements, first he lead the opponnent and then he suddenly released energy. You were not aware yet that he had moved, and you were already flying in the air and falling to the ground. Therefore the students loved his skills and at the same time they were happy to study with him.
In 1928, Yang Cheng Fu left Beijing and went south to teach taijiquan at Nanjing, Shanghai, Hankou, Hangzhou and Guangzhou. In Nanjing he was head coach at Central Martial Arts Academy. His students were numerous, spread in all regions to north and south of the Yangtze. To promote the development of taijiquan, in 1925 Yang Cheng Fu dictated his disciple Chen Wei Ming the book “The Art of Taijiquan” (taijiquan Shu). In 1934 he also dictated “Essence and Applications of Taijiquan (Taijiquan Tiyong Quan Shu), which contains the quintessence of taijiquan, precious legacy for future students.
Yang Cheng Fu had four sons: Zhen Ming, Zhen Ji, Zhen Duo and Zhen Guo.
Yang Zhao Peng
Yang Ban Hou had one daughter, and a son called Zhao Peng. Zhao Peng studied with Yang Cheng Fu and then opened a school in Guangxi, where he later passed away.
Yang Shou Zhong
Yang Zhen Ming, called Shou Zhong, was born in 1911 and died in 1986. From a young age on he followed his father in studying the art of Tai Chi Chuan. By age 14 he had comprehended the Tai Chi Chuan energies and was thoroughly proficient in the techniques of the saber, sword and spear and had become the assistant of his father, Yang Cheng Fu. Shou Zhong at age 19 went to Anhui Province and later taught Tai Chi in Nanjing. After that he traveled with his father, passing through Zhejiang, Fujian, and Guangdong Provinces. After Yang Cheng Fu passed away, Shou Zhong stayed in Guangzhou (Canton) to teach. In 1949 he moved to Hong Kong and opened a martial arts school where he taught.
In Hong Kong, Macao and other countries of Southeast Asia there are many of his disciples. Yang Shou Zhong took the boow written by his father before his death, Practical “Use Of Tai Chi Chuan: Its Application and Variations” and made various editions.
He collected some pictures of Yang Cheng Fu and published the illustrated book “Usage and Variations of Taijiquan with Illustrated Demonstration by Two” (Shuang Ren Tujie Taijiquan Yongfa Ji Bianhua) which was later available throughout the world. He died in 1985, leaving his three daughters in Hong Kong to pursue his cause and to continue teaching Yang Style Taijiquan.
Yang Zhen Ji
Yang Zhen Ji, born in 1921, started studying with his father and elder brother at age 6. He studied very hard, grasping the essence of Tai Chi Chuan. In the late 1940’s he began teaching Tai Chi Chuan. He traveled from Guangzhou (Canton) to Beijing, to Tianjin, to Guangxi, and to Handan to teach. Because he teaches very earnestly, his students are quite numerous and he once visited the United States. Zhen Ji, after several decades of practice and teaching, has gained a deep understanding of the skill passed on by his father.
Zhen Ji was the chairman of the Handan Wushu Association and was a member of the Commite of the Hebei Wushu Association. He wrote “Yang Cheng Fu Style Taijiquan” (Yang Cheng Fu Shi Taijiquan). He passed away on March 27, 2007.
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.
Since 1980 he has served as Vice-President of the Shanxi Wushu Association. In 1982 Yang Zhenduo founded the Shanxi Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Association, and has served as President since. The Association has now grown to over 30,000 members throughout the Province and is the largest martial arts organization of its kind in China. In October 1998 Yang Zhenduo founded the International Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Association, serving as Chairman of the Board. Under his leadership, in just one year the International Association has grown to 18 centers in 9 countries with over 350 members. The Chinese WuShu Academy recognized Master Yang Zhenduo in 1996 as one of the top 100 WuShu Masters in China. He has also been honored by proclamations from the Mayors of San Antonio, Texas and Troy, Michigan. Master Yang Zhenduo has appeared on the covers of Tai Chi and other martial arts magazines at home and abroad. He has written 5 books on the study of Tai Chi and countless articles. He has produced 3 complete sets of videos instructing in the Yang Style system of Tai Chi.
Yang Zhen Duo has two sons: the eldest, Yang Dao Fang and the youngest, Yang De Fang.
Yang Zhen Guo
Yang Zhen Guo, born in 1928, started studying at an early age the Tai Chi passed on by his family. He lives in Hebei Province, Handan City, and for many years looked after his mother. He has ceaselessly taught Tai Chi Chuan all around the local area. He once visited Taiwan, and has made a fairly significant contribution towards the development of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan. Zhen Guo has three daughters and two sons, Yong Fang being the first and Zhi Fang the second son.
In 1987, Yang Cheng Fu’s sons, Zhen Ji, Zhen Duo and Zhen Guo, built a tomb for the Yang family’s ancestors, giving past generations a place to rest. In order to remember the origin of Yang Style Taijiquan, the Yang Family burial place in Yongnian, Hebei Province, has been defined as a historical relic and protected by the state since 1991. In addition, contributions were made to complete the restoration of Yang Lu Chan’s historical residence, allowing students to continue enjoying the place with reverence.
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.
In conclusión, those who practice taijiquan invariably points to the Yang family. It was Yang Lu Chan who first opened the style to the public in Beijing. Then, after the changes of three generations, it was Yang Cheng Fu who developed and set the form and has made it widely popular. Now, the fourth generation of the Yang family, Zhen Ming, Zhen Ji, Zhen Duo and Zhen Zhen Guo, and the disciples of Yang Chengfu have spread Yang Style Taijiquan, making the style more famous at the present time. The history and countless real evidence have shown that Yang Style Taijiquan has given a notable contribution to health and longevity of human kind. To bring forth this important part of Chinese culture, I hope that our generation and future generations can work together, making possible for the Yang Style Taijiquan to shine with even greater magnificence.
- The Newsletter of the International Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Association, Number 2 (March 2000) and Number 3 (August 2000).
- Images taken from “The Yang Family History Fine Art Book” (www.martialgraphics.com) by Marco Gagnon.