Needle at Sea Bottom

By Sara Olsen
Needle at Sea Bottom is not just the name of a posture in the Yang Form. It is an example of how myth and fact have blended throughout China’s long history to become accepted as history. Accounts of events and figures from the earliest Neolithic years were not recorded in writing until much later. The exploits of great mythical and historical figures preserved for centuries in spoken tales made their way into written records in many different versions. One of the earliest myths, the story of Great Yu concerns events over 4,000 year old. Continue reading


Written by Holly Sweeney

Yang Chengfu’s Ten Essentials insured that the practice of Tai Chi Chuan would improve people’s health. It is impossible to overstate the importance of these Ten Essentials in identifying the elements that make Tai Chi Chuan a healthful practice. Without the Ten Essentials, it is doubtful that Tai Chi Chuan would be recognized allover the world as a unique exercise system that offers special benefits to those who practice it.

Ten Essentials of Tai Chi Chuan

Part I

Looking at: “Practice continuously and without interruption”

Smooth continuous movement is probably the most recognizable characteristic of traditional Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan. Anyone who has ever witnessed Yang style Tai Chi players remembers this distinctive quality of their practice.

What is the benefit of “practice continuously and without interruption” from a scientific viewpoint? There are unique results that occur as a result of applying this principle from the Ten Essentials. Slow, smooth, continuous movement produces at least two special conditioning effects for nerves, muscles, and tendons. To understand the conditioning that occurs, we first have to learn about the functional properties of nerves, muscles, and tendons. Continue reading

A Brief Biography of the Yang Family (II)

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.

Yang Shao Hou

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. Continue reading