Perhaps the best known Chen family teacher was 14th generation Chén Chángxing (() or Ch'en Chang-hsing, 1771-1853). He further synthesized Chen Wang ting’s
open fist training corpus into two routines that came to be known as “old frame” (-lao Jia). Chén Chángxing, contrary to Chen family tradition, also took
the first recorded non-family member as a disciple, Yang Luchan in 1820, who went on to develop his own family tradition, Yang style tai chi chuan. Tai chi
proved very popular and the other three traditional styles of tai chi chuan further sprang from Yang family tradition, some of these styles also borrowing
from the Chen family "Small Frame" tradition. Chen family teaching remained hidden and was not taught publicly until 1928.
Chen You Ben (), of the 14th Chen generation, is credited with starting a mainstream Chen training tradition that differed from that credited by
Chén Chángxing. It was originally known as “New Form” () as opposed to Chén Chángxing’s loa jia. It gradually become to be known as “small form” (-Xiao
Jia). Small Form eventually lead to the formation of two styles with Chen family influences, Zhaobao jia and Hulei jia (thunder), which are not considered
a part of the Chen family lineage.
YANG STYLE TAI CHI CHUAN
Yang Luchan had two sons whose names were Yang Pan Hou (1837-1892), and Yang Chien Hou (1839 - 1917). He also had three excellent students besides his two
sons; they were Wang Chun, Ling Shah, and Chuan You, all imperial guards. Wang Chun had mastered the hard energy aspects of Yang's art, as it was based on
softness; this is considered to be the lowest level of mastery. Ling Shan mastered the soft energy of Yang's art, which was considered to be the mid level
of mastery. Chuan You was the one that mastered the highest level of tai chi chuan, which was called the transformational energy of Yang’s martial art. He
processed the ability to switch from hard energy to soft energy at will.
Yang Pan Hou was perhaps the most proficient fighter ever produced by any style of tai chi chuan. He studied the large frame from his father and the small
frame from his father’s student, Wu Yu Hsiang, which has no relation to the Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan. Pan Hou concentrated his training in the explosive
movements of the small frame.
Yang Luchan's son Chien Chien Hou taught two successors, Chao Hsiung (1862 — 1930), and Yang Cheng Fu (1883—1936) who both taught the Traditional "Old and
Expansive" style which was described as "open and soft.... like a needle concealed within cotton”. Yang Cheng Fu was a powerfully built imposing figure of
300 pounds in his later years. He was known to be kind, good natured and very popular with all his students. Even generals humbled themselves before him.
Yang Cheng Fu had only a few disciples that passed on his art, some of which were Fu Zhongwen, Chen Wei-Ming, Chen-To and Tung Ying-Chieh. Fortunately,
Yang Cheng Fu dictated all the family teachings (the “Yang Family 40 chapters”), to his disciple Chen Wei Ming, and this precious information is available
to us to study today. The translation of this book is this schools’ reference material, that we discuss, analyze and use.
WU HAO STYLE TAI CHI CHUAN
Wu Yu Hsiang was a scholar from a wealthy and influential family who became a senior student (along with his two older brothers Wu Ch'eug-ch'ing and Wu
Ju-ch'ing of Yang Luchan. He also briefly studied with a teacher from the Chen family, Chen Ch'ing-p'ing, to whom he was introduced by Yang Lu Chan. Wu Yu
Hsiang additionally was influenced by his family's discovery of Wang Zhong-Yueh's classic, The Treatise of Taijiquan. He formulated a new distinctive small
frame style with compact, subtle movements and high stances. The emphasis is on bodywork, posture, equilibrium, sensitivity and the exertion of inner power
and chi development. The body is held in a straight and relaxed position during stepping, weight shifts, and waist turning, with each hand controlling its
own side of the body and generally not crossing. The hands are not stretched out beyond the foot and toes. The style emphasizes strictly on rising,
falling, starting, connecting, and opening and closing states within the movements. Leading steps are generally followed by a soft empty toe stance of the
trailing foot in the closed state stance. Jumps, strength releases, and fajing have mostly been removed from the forms as we know them today. The Wu Hao
Tai Chi Chuan techniques are described as the internal feeling should be large while the external display should be small and controlled and synchronous.
Wu Yu Hsiang's tai chi chuan is a distinctive style with small, subtle movements; highly focused on balance, sensitivity and internal ch'i development. It
is a rare style today, because he came from an influential family involved in government affairs, so he did not transmit his style to a large following. Wu
Ya Hsiang famous student was his nephew, Li l-yü (1832-1892), who also authored several important works on tai chi chuan. Li l-yü had a younger brother who
was also credited as an author of at least one work on the subject of tai chi chuan, Li Ch'i-hsüan. Li l-yü taught Hao Wei Chen (1842-1920), who taught Li
Xiang-yuan, Li Sheng-duan, Sun Lutang, his son Hao Yüeh-ru and others. Sun Lutang later on created Sun style Tai Chi. Hao Yüeh-ru in turn taught his son
Hao Shao Ju Wu Yu Hsiang's style of training, so that it is now sometimes known as Wu/Hao or just Hao style tai chi chuan. In the 1920’s, the degree of tai
chi chuan was experiencing degree of popularity. Hao Yüeh-ru was known for having smoothed out (in the sense of under-emphasizing jumps and snap kicks,
etc.) and standardized the forms he learned from his father in order to more effectively teach large numbers of beginners.
While there are direct descendants of Li I-yü and Li Ch'i-hsüan still teaching in China, there are no longer Hao family members teaching the style. The
last inheritor to learn under Hao Shao-ju currently living is Liu Jishun, who has many students around the globe but only two disciples in the United
Kingdom. Wu Yu Hsiang's art was passed to his nephew Li Yi Yu and then to Hao Weizheug who was instrumental in popularizing the style to a wider audience,
thus the addition of his surname to help distinguish the style from the other Wu style.
WU STYLE TAI CHI CHUAN
Keeping the tradition of past ancestors, Chuan You taught the art of Yang Lu Chan (transformational energy) to his son, Chien Chuan. The fall of the Ming
dynasty came and his son realized that holding a Manchurian surname would be hard to sell the family martial art in China. He decided to change his name to
Wu Chien Chuan. He learned the large frame Tai Chi from his father, concentrating on the transformational energy of the style, and the small frame from
Yang Pan Hou, Yang Luchan's eldest son. The large frame uses small circular movements in the limbs, while the small frame uses a much larger, and powerful
internal circles to produce small, explosive movements in the extremities. Wu Chien chuan uses the knowledge he gained from his father, Chuan You and Yang
Pan Hou to develop a small frame with high stance form of tai chi chuan, infused with Taoist meditation techniques, while maintaining the explosive close
quarters combat techniques of Yang Pan Hou's small frame tai chi chuan, which became known as the Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan.
SUN STYLE TAI CHI CHUAN
The Sun style tai chi chuan was developed by Sun Lutang (1861-1932), who was considered expert in two other internal martial arts styles: xingyiquan and
baguazhang before he came to study tai chi chuan. Besides his earlier xingyi and bagua training, Sun's experiences with Hao Wiezhen, Yang Shaohou, Yang
Chengfu and Wu Jianquan influenced the development of what is today recognized as the Sun style of tai chi chuan. Sun's son, Sun Cunzhou (1893-1963) and
daughter, Sun Jianyun (1914-2003) were tai chi chuan teachers, as well as Sun Cunzhou's daughter Sun Shurong (1918-2005) who taught in Beijing until her
Sun style tai chi chuan is well known for its smooth, flowing movements which omit the more physically vigorous crouching, leaping and fajin of some other
styles. The footwork of Sun style is unique, when one foot advances or retreats the other follows. It also uses an open palm throughout the entirety of its
main form, and exhibits small circular movements with the hand. The gentle pastures and high stances make it very suitable for geriatric exercise and
martial arts therapy.
Today, Sun style ranks fourth in popularity and fifth in terms of seniority amongst the five family styles of tai chi chuan. Sun Lutang was also considered
an accomplished Neo-Confucian and Taoist scholar, especially in the Yi Jing and the Tai chi classics. He learned Wu/Hao style tai chi chuan from Hao
Weizhen, who was Li Yiyu's chief disciple.
The Yang Style teachings that were passed by Yang Luchan to his son Chien Chien-Hou and then to his grandson Yang Chen-Fu
(1883-1936) who in an interview in 1930 said that Yang Luchan began studying with Chén Chángxing at the age of ten and he did not return home until
sometime in his forties. His story is basically that of a poor boy who became a renowned Martial Arts Master to the Manchu princes. He was the foremost boxer throughout the entire empire. Yang Luchan is the recognized founder
of a martial art lineage of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan, which has now become a worldwide movement. However, it is his grandson Yang Cheng’Fu
that the world can thank for promoting Tai Chi to its current level of recognition. Yang Cheng’Fu dictated all the extremely valuable oral
transmissions given to him directly by Yang Luchan, which today fortunately for us, we have available translations to study in the English language.
It was from the Chen family original teachings that Yang Luchan was catapulted from a “humble and poor” status to becoming the “Martial Arts Master to the
Manchu Princes”; and it was through Yang Cheng Fu’s educated disciples that Tai Chi has now become adapted for practice all over the world by martial
artists, intellectuals, the sick and the elderly. Besides being a highly effective system of self-defense, Yang Tai Chi is now well known for its abilities
toward developing a peaceful mind, mental and physical health, flexibility, agility, balance, coordination, and power (internal and external). This form of
art, if practiced daily, will also increase breathing capacity and normalizes and strengthens the circulation of blood and Chi energy throughout the entire
body, including the brain and all of the internal organs in result with a radiant and health and long life.
The Yang Tai Chi form taught at the Northern Praying Mantis & Tai Chi Martial Arts Center is based upon Yang Luchan’s original Traditional Long Form
which is presently the most popular worldwide. The long form in Chinese is called “Cheung Kuen” meaning “long fist” or, more subtly translated as “endless
form”. Tai Chi uses circular motions, which represents the theory of having no beginning and no end. Within the Tai Chi form are numerous distinct postures
that can all potentially link together in endless combinations.