Yang Tai Chi Masters
Yang Lu Chan
Yang Lu Chan (1799-1872) also known as Yang Fu Kui was born in Nan Guan of Yong Nian County
in Hebei province. He was from a farming family and worked in the local grocery store during his
break after harvesting. In his youth he had learned Shaolin Kung Fu and was always interested in
martial arts and when an opportunity arose for him to learn martial art from a master in the Chen
Jia Gou village call Chen Chang Xing, (who had learned Tai Chi from Jiang Fa) he proceeded to seek
the master out. After years of training, Yang Lu Chan was accepted as disciple given the full
transmission of the system. Yang Lu Chan spent 18 years to finish his study of this soft style of
martial art from Chen Chang Xing.
After leaving the Chen Jia Gou village, Yang Lu Chan went to Beijing and began to perfect his
Tai Chi Chuan skills. After years of continuous training and self-research, he achieved a high
level of martial art skill that he defeated all challenges from masters of other kung fu styles
through out China and be known as Yang Wu Di (Yang the Invincible).
Yang Lu Chan had two sons Ban Hou and Jian Hou. Eventually his sons helped him to train his
grandson Yang Cheng-Fu to be the greatest Tai Chi Chuan teacher in China.
Yang Ban Hou
Yang Ban Hou (1837-1892) was the second child of Yang Lu Chan and had started training Tai Chi
from a very young age. Under the strict and watchful eyes of his father, Yang Ban Hou would achieve
a very high level of skill and be also known as Yang Wu Di. Although Ban Hou was of an upright
character, he was somewhat short tempered and therefore had very few disciples. Like his father he
would accept and defeat all challenges with other martial art masters.
As a young boy, Yang Ban Hou was exceptionally talented in martial arts with outstanding natural
abilities. However, he hated the tough training that was forced upon him by his father, Yang Lu-Chan,
and would often run away from home. Each time his father would find him and bring him home.
Although Ban Hou hated his daily training, his natural abilities helped him, and his martial arts
improved very rapidly. In a few short years his martial arts abilities were unequaled. Thus, his name
became very well known throughout the China. Yang Ban Hou taught the Yang family Tai Chi fighting
secrets to his nephews Yang Shou Hou and Yang Cheng Fu, sons of Yang Jian Hou.
Yang Jian Hou
Yang Jian Hou (1839-1917), also known as Jing Pu, was Yang Lu Chan's third son. Jian Hou possessed
a highly developed martial art skill and was agile in his Tai Chi form. His Tai Chi Chuan was a
harmonious blend of hard and soft. He was especially talented at issuing internal energy. He also
had a profound knowledge of the Tai Chi straight sword, saber, and spear.
Jian Hou's eye-body coordination was superb and his movements were very fast. He was once among
a crowd of spectators in an opera theater in Beijing, watching an actor perform with a sword. The actor
suddenly lost control of the weapon and it flew out of his hands in Yang Jian Hou's direction. So quick
was Jian Hou's reaction that he not only managed to ward off the sword, but also caused it to be flung
back onto the stage.
His character was very warm-hearted. Whenever Yang Jian Hou competed and trained with others, he
never looked light-heartedly upon anyone; therefore, he too was never defeated. Unlike his elder
brother, Ban Hou, he was loved and respected by his many students because he was a gentle and patient
Yang Jian Hou had three sons, Yang Sau Hou, Yang Zou Yuan and Yang Cheng Fu.
Yang Cheng-Fu (1883-1936) was the grandson to Yang Lu Chan the founder of the Yang-style Tai Chi
Chuan. It was Cheng-Fu who finalized this style into the present-day form that is so popular all
over the world. Learning Tai Chi Chuan from his father since early childhood, Yang Cheng-Fu showed
great talent and learned very quickly, especially the "middle frame" of Yang style passed on by his
grandfather to his father and uncle Yang Ban Hou, both of whom had taught martial arts in the Prince
of Duan's mansion and enjoyed a great reputation in Beijing.
As an adult, Yang Cheng-Fu was invited by the Beijing Sports Society to teach martial arts in the
city and afterward he traveled to Wuhan, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hangzhou to teach the
Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan. Because of his modesty, gentleness and eagerness for perfection--which he
seemed to have inherited from his grandfather, Yang Cheng-Fu was loved by all his disciples, who were
scattered all over the country.
During his stay in Wuhan, he accepted a challenge by a local kung fu master versed in swordsmanship.
Wielding a mere makeshift sword of bamboo; Yang easily defeated his well-armed opponent and apologized
profusely for having hurt his wrist unintentionally during the fight.
Yang Cheng-Fu, after traveling to teach in the south, began to explicitly emphasize the use of
Taijiquan in treating illness and protecting health. He substituted gradual movements for the rapid
The distinctive characteristics of Yang Cheng-Fu style of Tai Chi are: the postures are relaxed
and expansive, simple and clean, precise in composition; the body is centered and aligned, not
inclining or leaning; the movements are harmonious and agreeable, containing hard and soft, uniting
lightness of spirit and heaviness of application. In Tai Chi training one develops softness from
loosening and relaxing. In accumulating softness one develops hardness; hardness and softness benefit
one another as there is mutual interaction. The postures may be high, middle or low, so that one is
able to make appropriate adjustments in the movements according to factors of age differences, sex,
bodily strength, or differing demands of the students. Because of this, it is as suitable for treating
illness or protecting health as it is for increasing strength and fitness.
The postures of Yang Style Tai Chi are expansive and open, light yet heavy, natural, centered and
upright, rounded and even, simple, vigorous and dignified-because of this one is able to quite naturally
express an individual style that is grand and beautiful.
Yang Cheng-Fu once said “Taijiquan is the art of softness containing hardness, of a needle concealed
in cotton. The postures must be centered and upright, rounded and full, calm and steady, relaxed and
tranquil. The movements are light, lively and curved-a completely marvelous action”.