Well first and
foremost it is a martial arts system, it
is practiced in a very slow manner to
facilitate the perfecting of each
movement, breathing is very important as
is the relaxing of the muscles and the
With a relaxed mind
you can visualise an opponent in front
of you to perfect movements, much like
shadow boxing in the west. Breathing
properly and relaxing the muscles enable
you to move the body's Qi (chee)
smoothly, developing strength and speed
in legs and arms. Special exercises
called Qi Gong enable you to
synchronise breathing, Qi flow and body
The link with TCM
through Yin and Yang theory, the
meridians that Qi flows through and the
acupuncture points make this art very
much a self healing as well as defensive
art. The Qi you use to heal is the
Qi you use for defence against attack
from a person or a virus. Also,
the way that Tai Chi is practiced with
this emphasis on relaxation and deep
breathing also make it an ideal way to
relax before or after a stressful day.
In this day and age
there is no necessity to practice this
art in a martial way and so the health
side has taken over in many schools.
The style we practice
and teach in our schools is Yang style,
from the Yang Cheng Fu lineage taught by
GM Brian Jones and from the Yang Jian
Hou Lineage from GM Tian Ying Jia.
Tai chi chuan is usually literally
translated as "grand ultimate boxing".
Instead of being an immodest title, the
"grand ultimate" portion of the name
refers to the Chinese concept of the
origin of the universe. That is
the principle of yin and yang. In
fact, the common yin-yang symbol is
properly called the t'ai chi diagram. I
see tai chi chuan being the art of the
harmony of yin and yang, in tangible
The founder is said to be Chang San Feng
(Zhang Sanfeng), who is thought to have
lived from 1279 to 1368, but no one
knows if he actually existed.
Some experts claim him as just
being a myth, while others argue he did
exist and there are monuments to him in
Many believed Chang San Feng was a
Shaolin monk who decided to leave the
monastery to become a Taoist hermit.
On Wu Tang (Wudang) mountain, he gave up
the hard fighting style he had learned
and formulated a new art based on
softness and yielding. One story tells
how he had a vision between a snake and
a crane (although some say it was a
magpie, an eagle or a hawk). In
theory, the crane should have had an
easy time killing the snake, but in
Chang's vision, the crane would try to
attack the snake's head, and the snake
would evade and hit the crane with it's
tail. When the crane would try for
the snake's tail, the snake would bite
the crane. This resulted in the
discovery of the basic t'ai chi concepts
of evading, yielding and attacking.
Chang assembled a martial art that used
softness and internal power to overcome
brute force. He is believed to
have written: "In every movement, every
part of the body must be light and agile
and strung together. The postures
should be without breaks. Motion
should be rooted in the feet, released
through the legs, directed by the waist
and expressed by the fingers.
Substantial and insubstantial movements
must be clearly differentiated."
This marked the beginning of tai chi
chuan, but at that time it was called
chang chuan, or long boxing after the endless flow of the Chang
jiang (Yangtse) River. Later, Chang
formulated the 13 postures of tai chi.
While no one knows what his art looked
like then, it is thought that the
movements were practiced as individual
techniques and/or concepts.
The next major historical figure was
Wang Tsung Yueh (Wang Zong Yue), who
wrote the second tai chi classic and
first referred to the art as tai chi
chuan. He also coined the
statement, "a force of 4 ounces deflects
1,000 pounds." He is thought to
have expanded the original 13 postures
into a linked choreographed form.
Some historians believe Wang actually
founded the art, while others dispute
his existence as well.
Nobody disputes the
existence of the founding father of Yang
family style Yang Lu Chan.
Yang Lu-chan (1799 - 1872) it is said
learned the old-frame style from Chen
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 tai 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 Xing,
who then taught him the whole old-frame
style. Yang is said to have spent
the next either six, 13 or 18 years
studying under Chen, depending on who is
telling the story.
Yang eventually returned to his hometown
of Kuang Ping (also spelled Guang Ping
and is a rarer style of Tai Chi) and
taught the old-frame Chen style.
He later travelled to
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
It is important to
remember that Yang Lu Chan 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
Because of his victories in
challenge matches, he acquired the
nickname "Yang the Invincible".
Nevertheless, he always tried to avoid
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 Jian Hou (a.k.a. Yang
Yang Jian Hou (1839-1917) taught medium
frame (Zhong Jia), and small frame (Xiao
Jia) styles of tai chi. He was easier to
get along with than his brother and had
more students. One story told how he
once held a sparrow in his hand and used
his sensitivity to prevent the bird from
taking off by neutralizing its push. In
another story, armed only with a brush
Yang is said to have defeated a martial
artist who was wielding a sword. His
sons, Yang Shao Hou and Yang Cheng Fu,
carried on his art.
Some of Yang Cheng-fu's students
originally trained under his brother,
Yang Shao Hou. Consequently, they
inherited the energy of that form.
Stories of Yang Shao Hou described him
as being brutal and often injuring or
killing his students. Consequently, he
did not have many followers, but the
ones he did have were good martial
artists. The well-known ones include his
son Yang Chen Seng,
Tian Zhao Lin, Hsiung Young Hou, and
Chang Ching Ling, all of whom carried on
his unique small-frame method.
After Yang Shao Hou died, his students
became followers of his brother, Yang
Cheng Fu. Some tai chi historians claim
that many of the senior students of Yang
Shao Hou, believing their skill was
higher than Yang Cheng Fu's, went off on
their own after Shao Hou died. Thus,
they were written out of the official
lineage, and some practitioners do not
consider their versions of the art
Some experts claim that
Tian Zhao Lin and Hsiung Young Hou
were also students of Yang Pan Hou. Tian
taught Shi Tiao Mei, who taught Tchoung
Ta Tchen. Hsiung Young Yo also taught
Tchoung Ta Tchen
- as well as Liang Tung Tsai and
several others - the small frame and san
shou form. Researcher Andy Dale refers
to this San Shou form as another
"secret" Yang style, which Yang Shau
Chung claimed was derived from the Chen
Ar Lu style (pao chui, or cannon fist),
as taught by Yang Lu-chan.
Yang Cheng Fu (1883-1936) was one of the
most important historical figures in
modern tai chi chuan.
He taught a "Large Frame" tai chi
form that used slow, smooth, expansive
movements. It was often said that he
felt like a steel bar wrapped in cotton.
Legend has it he was never defeated in
combat. Chang Ching Ling an advanced
student of Yang Shao Hou and
Tian Zhao Lin also practiced with
him and may have helped develop Yang
Cheng Fu's skill.
Yang taught at the Central Kuo Shu
Institute in 1926. When he moved south
modified the Yang form, taking out the
fast kicks and the more strenuous
movements. He is also credited with
emphasising the health benefits of the
art and popularising it among the
educated class. Yang deserved much of
the credit for the current popularity
tai chi chuan and especially of the Yang
style. Some claim he taught one art to
the public and another to his closest
Though many experts deny this
His form is referred to as "Yang
Family Style", as the "Family"
designation is only appropriate for
What are Marks
Last and only
Western Tudi To
Tian Ying Jia, 5th Generation Yang
Tai Chi Grand Master, Shanghai ,China,
Escrima, Kun Tao Tai Chi and Qigong
Instructor, Integrated Kun Tao
Grand Master Brian Jones, U.K
Yin Zhu Yan Wild Goose Qi Gong
(Dayan Gong), Eagle Claw Kung Fu, Ba Gua
Zhang Master, Hang Zhou, China,
Oriental Herbal Medicine and member of
the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine,
Acupuncture and Member of the British
Acupuncture / Herbs / Tui na (Hang Zhou
Cert Tui na U.K.