Yang family Taijiquan

Yang Chenfu Dan Biandiagonal fly 2004

 

One of the most famous and popular of all the Chinese Internal martial arts systems today is the Yang family Taijiquan. So famous in fact that it is considered a category all its own.  Not often does one hear of it as a martial art but only as “Tai Chi” or Taijiquan.  Taijiquan is considered one of the 3 famous nei-jia (Internal Kungfu Styles) of China. It has a good reputation as a extremely effective system of health and fitness for all people young and old.

Taijiquan Origins

Taijiquan was developed in the latter years of the Qing Dynasty in an area of China known as Chenjiagou but in truth, it’s origin is cloaked in mystery and legend regardless of the scholarly consensus surrounding it.  In the past the origin of Taijiquan was attributed to Zhang Sanfeng who is commonly believed to be the founder of Wudang Temple and some believe to have become an immortal.  He is the one attributed with the founding of the nei-jia or internal arts. Wudang Temple without dispute houses the most extensive and sophisticated exposition of the Taijiquan fist style as well as a clear history of universal understanding and exposition of the nei-jia in the use of empty hand and weapons routines and methods and so demonstrate to the author the best argument for simplicity’s sake of greater antiquity than those originating outside the temple in the various villages and towns.

Chen Jia Gou

Chenjiagou is where modern scholars trace the origins of Taijiquan but then fail to demonstrate just how the art came to be in its particular construction and leave this to speculation. Wikipedia which is not always the best most reliable source does admit what is generally known.

The origin and nature of what is now known as tai chi is not historically verifiable until around the 17th century. Documents of this period indicate the Chen clan settled in Chenjiagou, (which is located) in Henan Province sometime during the 13th century and reveal the defining contribution of Chen WangTing (1580–1660). It is therefore not clear how the Chen family actually came to practice their unique martial style and contradictory “histories” abound. What is known is that the other four contemporary traditional Tai Chi styles (Yang, Sun, Wu, and Woo/Hao) trace their teachings back to Chen village in the early 1800s. 

The author considers the Wudang Temple is probably the real source whether directly or indirectly, of Taijiquan; however confused and speculative the historical derivation that places the art in the hands of the public by means of the known styles and derivations of Taijiquan since the late Qing Dynasty there is a necessary condition of origins nonetheless.  This author believes much of this is as a result of the evolution and combination of methods and techniques which necessarily would gradually over time spill out into the nearby provinces adjacent to whichever temple complex may have given birth to the style and philosophy of practice, and so over time with the aid of a generous monk, or individual, not ruling out someone who served extensively in a military unit, gradually developed these into what would become a coherent system that when constructed into more complex and cogent styles by auspicious individuals of piercing insight and talent adding to this also those who would become part of another greater whole by the same means until becoming fixed at some point into the recension known as Chen shih taijiquan .  this etiology can be seen to evolve in much the same way as how our language, views, religions, fashion, and culture gradually inches forward in an unbroken timeline of history.  Myths and Legends, historical fiction and doctored lineages abound so as to make dogmatic assertions risky at best from a precise and scientific viewpoint. Details contrived or claimed can be argued over of course but without certain resolution.

The lineage of the Yang family Taijiquan begins with Yang Lu Chan, his fanciful and legendary tale, told many times has been the inspiration of many, but it can be asserted here also that, being subject to the same kind of manipulation, it requires some restraint when it comes to what conclusions we derive from the hearing (or telling). Therefore it will not be told here.  It is in Beijing, the Capital of China where Yang Lu Chan gained fame acquiring the auspicious name Yang Wu Di which means Yang the invincible. It can be surmised from this that he made quite an impact.  The stories of his various challenges and demonstrations of his skill are widely told and are truly impressive in the hearing.  It is a fact that it was the Yang family Taijiquan and not the Chen family Taijiquan which first gained status and notoriety in Beijing notwithstanding the older and more thoroughly developed Chen family style which was still unknown in the capital. But the Chen family lacked a champion, a singular and auspicious individual to carry the banner of the Chen family into the capital until later when Chen Fa Ke arrived and although making a very positive impression was not of the same caliber as the Yang family and so was still overshadowed by the reputation of the Yang family. 

Modern Yang family Taijiquan

Currently there is a wide variety of Taijiquan styles and individual expressions of each style that can be found without much effort here and there.  The most popular routines are the Yang family routines even today.  There are however, a wide variety of interpretations.  Wujido Institute true to it’s founding principles however, approaches the Yang family Taijiquan as it does with all its research and training.  Therefore the Yang family Taijiquan in its orthodox form is what is taught at the Wujido Institute.  The Yang family system consists of the long boxing set; the 105 Taijiquan (long boxing empty hand routine), the 67 Taijijian (Tai Chi Sword), the 13 form Taijidao (Tai Chi Saber), the orthodox i-shuang Yang Tui Shou (two hand push hands) and the variations.  The complete Yang family system is taught. In addition, further study of Wu and Chen Tui Shou methods and weapon routines from the Wu and Chen family in addition are explored and taught: Wudang sword as well.  All Taijijian (sword) is actually derived from and belongs to the wudang family of swordplay but more or less not as comprehensive or evolved as the temple swordplay. The Yang sword routine was actually developed by a top wudang sword master, as reported in Chen Wei Ming’s book on Yang Style Sword. He resided in Beijing and taught the Yang’s 13 of the 48 sword skills of the Wudang.

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