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About Yang Family Taijiquan

image: left to right: Yang Luchan, Yang Banhou, Yang Jianhao, Yang Shaohao, Yang Chenfu.

Yang family Taijiquan is one of 5 major schools of taijiquan with the others being the Chen, Wu (Hao), Wu, and Sun.
Chen- founder is Chen Wan ting.
Yang- founder is Yang Luchan.
Wu (Hao)- founder is Wu Yu xiang.
Wu- founder is Quan Yu.
Sun- founder is Sun Lutang.

Taiji name was originally from the I-Ching or “Book of Changes”. It means “Supreme Ultimate” which is “yin yang”. The theory of the origin of Taijiquan (martial art) is not clear. Some say it is from Chang Sanfeng, a monk from Shaolin temple who settled in Wudang temple around the Yuan and Ming dynasty. However, evidence points to the creation in Chenjiagou, Wenxian county, Henan province to Chen Wangting, a garrison commander 300 years ago during end of Ming and early Qing dynasty.
image: Chang Sanfeng (left) and Chen Wangting (right).

Taijiquan has 13 postures (often called principles/powers/or energies):
Ba Men (Eight gates):
1. Ward-off
2. Rollback
3. Press/squeeze
4. Push
5. Yank
6. Split
7. Elbow
8. Shoulder
Wu Bu (Five steps):
9. Forward
10. Backward
11. Look left
12. Gaze right
13. Center equilibrium.

Taijiquan comes out of obscurity to the capital of China: Beijing.
Yang Luchan originally learned the Chen Taijiquan from Chen Chanxin. Chen Taijiquan is characterized by both slow and fast movements, jumping, stomping, and displays of sudden explosiveness (fajin). The Yang form that is most widely trained today is the Yang family’s “Da jia” or large frame standardized by Yang Chenfu in the 1930’s. The Yang family is originally from Yongnian country, Guang Ping prefecture in Hebei province. Its movements are characterized as slow, even, gentle, long, and large. Yang Luchan was invited to teach in Beijing to the Emperors family and Imperial guard. People watched and wanted to learn since he displayed many unique skills there.

The earlier frames of Yang taijiquan are as follows:
Yang Luchan form is considered the “Old Yang” form, Yang Banhou and Yang Shouhou practiced a frame called the “Small frame”. Yang Jianhou practiced what is called the “Middle frame”. Yang Chenfu publicly taught the “Large frame”.

Relaxation is key to Yang taijiquan. By relaxation we mean to open the joints, tendons, and bones while unifying the entire body during your practice. The waist leads your entire body as energy is led from the root in the feet, exploded by the legs, controlled by the waist, and expressed by the hands. The first of the 10 principles is very important- raise the head opens the spirit, it aligns the body internally, and directs mind to sink downward.

Yang Chenfu laid down the art into 10 requirements:
1. Raise the head, lift the spirit to the crown.
2. Sink the chest and round the back.
3. Relax the waist.
4. Separate the weight, understand the full and empty in the legs.
5. Drop the elbows and shoulders.
6. Coordinate the upper and lower body.
7. Coordinate the inner with the outer.
8. Use the mind not external force.
9. Move continuously without interruption.
10. Seek stillness within motion.

The Yang family art has 5 major parts:
1. Study of the Long form (108, 103, 85 depending on count, but all the same sequence).
2. Study of Straight sword
3. Study of Saber
4. Study of Long staff
5. Study of Tui Shou (push hands and Da Lu, fixed and moving).
Long form images:

Straight sword with Yang Jun:

Sabre with Yang Jun

Tui Shou with Fu Sheng Yuan:

Fundamentals of Yang Taijiquan:
Bow stance requires:
1. The shape of an archer stance.
2. Knee follows the toe, does not go past the toe.
3. Back leg straight but not locked.
4. Shoulder width between feet.
5. Back foot points to 45 degrees.
6. Weight is 60% in front and 40% in back.
3 postures that use the bow stance are ward off right, brush knee, and slanted flying.

Empty stance requirements:
1. Back leg is pointed to corner while front leg points straight.
2. Front foot touches with heel or toe, while back leg bears most of the weight.
3. Back leg knee is aligned with toes.
4. Foot work is narrower, stay on both sides of the centerline between the heels.
5. Weight is 30% front leg and 70% back leg.
Postures: Fist under elbow and Play pipa uses empty stance with heel touching ground, while High pat horse and White crane spread wings uses front toe touching the ground.

Yang family also practice the Straight sword. It is characterized by it agile, fast, open, and lively movements.

Want to Study Yang Taijiquan? more info at the link here to the Yang Family International Association:

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Yongnian Taijiquan interview: Fu Sheng Yuan, James Fu, Paul Brown, and Damon Bramich

1994 I was in Shanghai China to visit the 50th anniversary of the Yongnian Taijiquan Association founded by Fu Zhong Wen (FZW). I have recently caught up with Paul Brown and Damon Bramich online and re-unite with the Yongnian Association head by FZW’s son Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan and grandson Master James Fu.

Image: Fu Sheng yuan teaching the finer points of push hands to Dr. Jonathan Shear and Matt Stampe in Shanghai China April 1994.
Image: Fu Zhong Wen and James Fu in USA July 1994

Name: Paul Brown

Where are you currently residing?
• Perth, Western Australia.

When did you start Yang Taijiquan?
• 1989

List any other styles you train and whom under?
• I have only trained under Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan.

Awards, certifications, titles, competition experience, etc.?
• Disciple of Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan since 1993, 6th Dan Chinese Wushu Federation, 3 Gold Medals and 1 Silver Medal in Tai Chi competitions in China, i.e., Shanghai, Yongnian and Xian.

Currently training under and how long?
• Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan for 25 years.

What do you see as the future of the Yongnian Association?
• The Yongnian Association was created by Grandmaster Fu Zhongwen in Shanghai, China in 1944 and has been synonymous with promoting the authentic Yang Style Tai Chi, as was taught to Fu Zhongwen by Yang Cheng Fu. Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan and Master Fu Qing Quan, plus their disciples, are all committed to preserving the Yongnian Association.

Any words of encouragement to fellow practitioners?
• Find out the history of your instructor, i.e., who they learnt from and for how long. This is to ensure you are receiving the best instruction possible. Tai Chi is very easy to be misinterpreted and altered, which is why we see so many versions of Yang Style Tai Chi today. Practice diligently daily because the more you practice the better you will understand this art yourself. Your instructor is for guidance, i.e., to keep you on the rails. If you want to harness your chi energy and develop jin power, you need to train diligently for many years. It will not come quickly or easily.

Please share your Views on ranking, certifications, teaching, etc.
• Tai Chi Kung Fu comes with time learning from an experienced teacher. It is not something that can be channelled into rankings or certifications. An experienced teacher is required to guide you through the jungle of misconceptions. They are important in fine tuning your movements and keep your mental state on the correct path.

What is your view of the current status of traditional martial art like tai chi with the explosion of MMA fight events?
• I don’t really have an opinion on the rise of MMA. I respect all people that train hard in their chosen martial art. I am appreciative that I have been able to learn the art of Tai Chi from a great master and am happy to concentrate my study on this art. I remember Fu Zhongwen saying to me one day that it was important to focus on one martial art if you want to master it.
Please feel free to share any videos and links. • I think there is a lot of videos of Grandmasters Fu Zhongwen and Fu Sheng Yuan, and Master Fu Qing Quan on YouTube. People can see these online. These are the videos I would recommend for people wanting to learn authentic Yang Style Tai Chi.

Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan answered the following:

How are things going with the Yongnian Association in China and abroad?
• The Yongnian Tai Chi Association in China is going very strong. There are also active memberships of Yongnian Associations in Australia, Malaysia, India, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Hong Kong, and New Zealand. Myself and my son Fu Qing Quan have also taught in the USA, Canada, England, Chile, Thailand, Taiwan, Switzerland, Poland and Germany.

How many countries are now in the association? • As above.

What is your view of the current status of traditional martial art like tai chi with the explosion of MMA fight events?
• I enjoy watching the MMA on television. If students trained strongly and diligently in authentic tai chi for many years they could be competitive in an MMA competition.

Any words of encouragement to fellow practitioners?
• Follow my father’s motto, i.e., Diligence, Perseverance, Respect and Sincerity. Your training should be non-stop for many forms, with great effort. This will enable your body to become strong.

When will be the next gathering of all associations?
• Every year in Shanghai, China my son and I run a workshop for practitioners of the Yongnian Tai Chi. This event is usually held in May.

Yongnian county and Guang Ping is the Yang family hometown, can you talk about the memorial of Yang Chen Fu and Fu Zhong Wen there?
• My father and I were both born in Yongnian, China. This is our home village, so it is important that we return here as our final resting place. We built a memorial to my father in Yongnian that befitted his significance to tai chi and the village. My family dedicated a considerable amount of time, and negotiated with the Yongnian government officials, to build this memorial. Today my family, disciples, students and visitors regularly attend the memorial to pay their respects to my father. The memorial site to the Yang family members is also located just outside the town of Yongnian. This site was recently relocated due to industry building up around the former location. The bodies of Yang Lu Chan, Yang Ban Hou, Yang Jian Hou, Yang Cheng Fu, Yang Sao Hou and my mother are all buried at this location. The new Yang family memorial is an improvement on the former memorial, and is more befitting of the masters buried there.

Part 2 with master James Fu and Damon Bramich coming soon.

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Interview with Stuart Shaw and Ben Ng: Progressing Taijiquan down in Australia

I’ve met both Stuart and Ben on Facebook through the various forums there. The Fajin Project was designed to weed out that garbage of mystical Taiji bullshit to bring a light of truth as what is real and what works in real confrontation vs. mystical fajin and other non-sense. I was quite impressed with there push hands gathering that involved both Stuart, Ben, Joey Nishad, John Fung, and many others willing to test their push hands. More of these with video need to be done, especially with the ones who “talk more than do”. Having been friends on Facebook, I have had many good conversations and been involved with several forum discussions on future of competitions, and reality of using taiji kung fu for no-nonsense self defense.

Stuart Shaw

Where do you reside?
Toowoomba Queensland Australia.

How long have you been training in Tai chi chuan?
21 years.

Currently training under and how long?
Principal of my own school now, not directly affiliated with any other school, teacher, or lineage.
Trained through Yang style, but I have taken my work in more combat direction, fusing with Systema. My first teacher was from the CMC lineage … Yang style was down from Yang Sou Chung / Chu King Hung line …. but I have formally turned my back on that line because of their silliness. Silliness = delusional bullshit in believing in super powers.

Name the all styles you practice and teachers?
Taijiquan, Ziranquan (free boxing), Systema.

Awards, certifications, titles, competition experience, etc.?
I have kept a fairly low profile, a few fights here and there, recently took home a nice silver dragon at the Coffs Harbor Push Hands Bootcamp.

Please discuss the World tui shou forum and how it is going, the future of the sport and vision for the sport.
As I have said on the forum, I would like to see “push hands” comps become a meeting ground between Taijiquan and the rest of the martial arts community. Stand up grappling, take down wrestling as a competition format is unique and with the right rule set and promotion it could become a popular sport. “Hopefully” it will make the Taijiquan community step up their training; I know that it has for me since I have been playing more with it.

Here’s the reality … Taijiquan is a toothless tiger. Somewhere along the way, probably folks like YCF, the teeth and claws of Taijiquan have been systematically removed. From there each subsequent generation have continued that trend. The whole collective herd is about to run off the edge into the abyss of delusion and martial irrelevancy and a few of us are trying to head off that occurrence … perhaps we are doomed to fail, but that won’t stop me trying.

What is your view of the current status of traditional martial art like tai chi with the explosion of MMA fight events?
MMA is what all martial arts should be anyway. Life is not insular and the only way “evolution” progresses is through genetic exploration adapting to the current environmental factors. If your art is only “great” in the past than it was never great … you either have to evolve or become extinct … superseded by newer models better fitted to the environment. Taijiquan as a martial arts is all but dead; filled either with delusional fuckwits pretending they have Dragonball Z superpowers, or with old foggies playing handsies in the park. Less than ½ a percent of Taijiquan schools in the world actually have anything resembling good combat skills.

Please share your Views on ranking, certifications, teaching, etc. Any words of encouragement to fellow practitioners?
I have never much been into rankings and belts, though they certainly are a good way to get students motivated into staying in a school. The allure of “the next belt” is certainly a good way to build a school. My way of teaching is: Purify, naturalize, integrate, and temper. Purify your body and mind from conditioned thoughts, beliefs, and responses. Naturalize your body and mind until you are free and spontaneous. Integrate your body and mind to develop efficiency of power and movement. Temper your body and mind through pressure testing your skills and strategy.

Ben Ng-
Ben Chon-Sing Ng

Where do you reside?
Sydney Australia

How long have you been training in Tai chi chuan?
I had first been introduced to Taijiquan when I was 9 years old and just came to Australia. My father tried to introduce me to Wu style, but for a youngster, I did not have the patience for it. I regained an appreciation for Taijiquan around 2001. It is now what I primarily practice.

Currently training under and how long?
I have trained with Master Alice Dong, (recognised lineage holder of Fu Zhong Wen’s Yang style) since around 2004. I have been her representitive in teaching and competition since 2005.

Name the all styles you practice and teachers?
By Chronological order: Yang style Taijiquan- Bret (not sure of his surname, he used to teach the FZW Yang style, but currently teach Hun Yuan style in Canberra Australia)
1993-2001 Rhee TKD- 1st Dan
2001-2002 Kyokushin Karate- 5th Kyu
2002-2007 Shorinkan Shorinryu Okinawan Karate- 1st Dan 2002 Shinkenryu Kenjitsu- 5mths unranked
2002-2007 Matayoshi Kobudo- 2nd Dan
2004- present Pei Lei Wushu Association (Master Alice’s School)- Yang Style Taijiquan, Youlong Baguazhang, Sanda.

Awards, certifications, titles, competition experience, etc.?
2005 AKWF Oceania Championships- Gold in Male Traditional Yang Style.
2005/6 Shorinryu Kenyukan Association Australia Championships- Open Male Continuous Sparring 1st place.
2008 World Traditional Wushu Championships (Wudang, China)- Silver x2 in Male Yang Style Bare hand and Taiji sword.
2010 World Traditional Wushu Championships (Wudang, China)- Bronze in Male Yang Style Taiji sword.
2012 KWA National Championships- Gold in ‘Male- Other Kungfu styles’, ‘Male- Traditional Yang style Taiji Sword’ and ‘Male – Other Taichi weapons’.

Please discuss the World tui shou forum and how it is going, the future of the sport and vision for the sport?
I was invited by Stuart to contribute to the forum due to my background in both competitive and traditional martial arts practices. Personally, The most that I gain from competition is meeting other practitioners of the craft, and seeing the large varieties of styles. I think that if we want to turn heads towards Taijiquan and other Chinese styles as a practical martial art, then we need to go to the most watched combat arena and do well there, which I currently think is MMA. Yang Lu-Chan gain fame that way and his style is now the most practiced Chinese physical activity in the world. BJJ is now currently enjoying the same attention. If we only compete amongst our selves, we won’t get very far.

What is your view of the current status of traditional martial art like tai chi with the explosion of MMA fight events?
Status is in the eye of the beholder. MMA fans would say that traditional martial arts are useless because most their practitioners need specialised training to do well in the MMA arena. Traditional martial arts practitioners look at MMA and think that its just brutal nonsense. Its one of those debates that can never be won and there are merit on both sides. In my humble opinion, from one who has done everything from forms, full contact sparring and friendly matches with local level MMA guys, people have to look at ‘why’ they want to train and find the thing that suits them. You need to find a ‘style’ that has the same goal as you. One should have a realistic idea about what they are doing. One who does Wushu as a cultural activity, health and character development, should not delude themselves or others that they can chuck a Yip-Man and take on 10 guys on the street. One who goes into stuff like MMA and/or Sanda training need to accept that there are risks and a price to pay on your health from hitting and being hit on a regular basis. I think the best way for Taijiquan to be put back on the map as a combat art, is to take it back to the most watched arena and prove its worth there (which I think, is currently MMA). That was how Taijiquan came to fame and right or wrong, is now the most widely practised style of ‘Chinese martial art’ on earth. When people start going to Taichi schools asking to be taught ‘real combat’ and walk away when they can’t, will naturally raise the level of practicality in Taijiquan.

Please share your Views on ranking, certifications, teaching, etc.
Rankings and certifications are like picture frames. A beautiful work of art should naturally have a fittingly well crafted and beautiful frame. You can take an ordinary painting and make it look more valuable than its worth with a nicer frame. Sometimes people discover in their basement, a dusty unframed painting that happens to be worth millons. Regarding teaching, a good teacher teaches for the good of the students. Not every student who walks through the door can be trained to become a proficient fighter or even do forms properly, but as long as they are better this week than they were last week, every week, they have already won.

I think its not about what the hands or posture is in a school, but whether they have a reasonable reason for doing things the way they do it. So to me, any school any style can be good or bad. I don’t follow a style, I follow a good teacher And don’t worry so much about the ‘levels’. No one else really gives a shit about them. Don’t sweat too much about “testing”. They are only valid in their system. The most important thing is that you are doing what you know is the ‘real’ way. It would not do you justice to end up mis-representing yourself.

Any words of encouragement to fellow practitioners?
Don’t find a style that you like, find a teacher that you like and do whatever style that they teach. Do what you love. Don’t waste time arguing with people. Being happy and successful is the best validation for what you do.

On Standing gong:
I do standing first to ‘build the frame’. In my school of thought, all of the other movements are different expressions of ‘the frame’.
Warm-ups and stretching:
Now-a-days neck circles are not done anymore as a continuous rotation, as it puts a lot of strain on the neck joints. I would just do the front half then look up, push the chin back and look down, then turn left and right. Also with stretches, instead of bouncing on them, take a deep breath and the stretch down on the exhale, hold it for 5 sec, then take another deep breath, and stretch further, hold for another 5 sec and do that total 3 to 4 times. You can do that for the neck as well.

Please tell me about your training in TCM, how long you have been a practitioner? what are some of the types of treatments you mostly do? how has TCM helped your Taijiquan?
I graduated in 2001 as a Bachelor of Health Science in Acupuncture, from the University of Technology in Sydney (UTS) Australia. UTS has always had a foundation in scientific research in TCM.
I have been practicing full time since then. I have been treating musculoskeletal problems (aches, pains, injuries, etc.) primarily, but also have a reputation for my work in fertility enhancement.
I feel that I use the same perspective to study Taijiquan as I do with TCM, which is to try and ‘decode’ what the ancients mean, instead of taking all the ancient writings at face value. I think that a lot of seemingly magical stuff in Taijiquan, such as Fa-Jing and Qi cultivation, can be dissected and explained scientifically. But even if things can be explain scientifically, still requires mental concentration, visualization and sensitivity to make it work.

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What is a Sifu really? metrics available

In Chinese martial arts, a “Sifu” is an accomplished teacher of a tradition and philosophy. They pass this knowledge and skill on to a student or apprentice. In this day and age, the term Sifu has been abused by many Chinese, and non-Chinese martial art instructors, without having proper lineage, training skills, and background. We want to clarify to the potential consumer, what is the right metrics for a good (Tai Chi) kung fu instructor aka Sifu.



Some metrics suggested from Dr. Ken Fish@RSF forum thread here:
1. Teacher has spent not only years in training, but put in several hours each day of those years under the guidance of a strict teacher.
2. Has an understanding of, and can clearly explain (verbally and physically) the physical mechanics of the system .
3. Understands that things like pushing hands or sticking hands are exercises that develop certain attributes or test structure and alignment, but are not ends unto themselves and that time spent in training these exercises may not have actual value in real world application of the art.
4. Has experience (police, military, criminal organization, security) that put his/her training to the test. Has been in situations that required him to defend him/herself for real.
5. Understands that martial arts are not a vehicle for competitive sport (unless one is looking for sport oriented martial arts), and does not confuse tournament activities (sparring, push hands) or compliant application drills with actual fighting.
6. Can demonstrate the techniques of the art against full speed, non-compliant (or relatively non-compliant) attacks.
7. Has no “cult of personality” – students are not encouraged to see the teacher as anything more than a teacher deserving of respect.

RANT: Things sketchy “Sifu’s” do that isolate themselves from the CMA community in general, or what is not a sifu in my view and why they lose face:

1. Never participate in CMA community events: competitions or network with peers. Prime example is the person who talks smack about push hands and full contact comps.
2. Sifus who have an unknown origin of who gave them title of Sifu. Even after researching people they trained with, and peers within that style, do not like that person.
3. Lose of face factor: is willing to have plenty of videos of defeating his compliant students in push hands, will not push hands with you, or others who are skeptics especially after talking to much #5 below.
4. Talks as if representative/authority of a Family they are not apart of. Mouth off and say like, ” _____ family art is a one touch knock-out art, tai chi in fighting without our principles looks like bad kickboxing.” All the while they having no real-world fighting experience, or ability to show fighting experience against a non-compliant partner.
5. Make unsubstantiated claims that are too woo-woo in nature: “we do one-touch knockouts” “we launch people in the air with our fajin”, all the while being compliant play.
6. Competitions- they will chastise you as a fighter, yet their fighter can’t survive first minute of fight and gets knocked out. Has nothing to show of fighting, then calls fighting “boring”.
7. Remain in their comfort zone around their worshipers. Forget ever seeing them outside their circle of influence.
8. Critical of people who have actually gone and won championships: publicly said so-and-so wasn’t using Tai Chi when he defeated everyone in Chen village, or calling out the Tai chi guy who fought 3 opponents and won heavy weight championship on the Lei Tai, had the nerve to say “it wasn’t tai chi”.
9. Makes fun of other martial arts or CMA’s while being hypocritical: for instance disrespects Wu-shu, but then uses the term “jibengong” which is “basics” from wu-shu.
10. As a internal stylist, thinks cardio and weight training is stupid. Publicly even saying is “allergic” to cardio. I guess they “allergic” to having what their internal needs…aka strength and what their body needs: to lose weight.
11. Altering peoples belief systems: flooding the students with religion. Nothing wrong with Buddhism, however Tai chi and Buddhism are two separate fields of study and not part of the same. What tai chi system teaches Buddhism? none.
12. Hiding behind minions: having their students contact you rather than themselves.
13. Wu De- does not possess, no respect, no ability to have a normal conversation, their behavior talks louder than kung fu, and since you don’t hero worship them, they not interested in discussion.
14. By not allowing you to touch hands with them, they save their face because if the truth was found that the skills they claim are fake, they know it will be reported publicly.
15. Sifu as a business move, they do not want to lose their “rice bowl” because they have no other real life skill or source of income other than to make claims and sell of Tai chi “secrets” or skills tai chi people think they want like ‘fajin’ and enlightenment. Skills that will not work against other skilled martial artists in a real fight anyways.
16. When they come to town, no interested in friendly visit, to network with other people, just here to make seminar money. Often excuses “I have an injury” to want to try push hands with you.
17. Anytime you question them on a forum or have an opinion, it comes down to getting name called, troll bashed, and getting banned from the forum group. Will not answer where they learned the “secret tai chi form” of so-n-so.
18. Questionable training. Claiming to have trained with someone, but not really over a time frame of years. More like a week retreat or workshop.
19. Complains they are that good. Claims, ” Not enough people to touch hands with” and “I’ve never been taken to the ground”. Yeah…cause you shelter yourself from real fighters and martial artists.
20. Online video Marketing of “Tai Chi secrets to fighting” and other non-sense. Excuse me, what are you famous for? You are not an combat athlete, you have no push hands championships, or full contact fighting championships. It is disgraceful to those who have competed and actually “put up and shut up” about it.
21. Lucky Money: require students to give them more because it makes them have “better kung fu” and relationship with Sifu.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it! aka “Please contemplate my arguments against your delusions.”

Link to some honest and good Sifu’s can be found here.

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