Yang, Luchan, a Biography

Person: Yang Luchan

Yang, Luchan, a Biography

Yang Style history starts with Yang, Lu-chan (楊露禪) (a.d. 1799-1872), also known as Fu-kuai (福魁) or Lu-chan (祿纏). He was born at Yong Nian Xian, Guang Ping County, Hebei Province (河北,廣平府永年縣). When he was young he went to Chen Jia Gou in Henan province to learn taijiquan from Chen, Chang-xing. When Chen, Chang-xing stood he was centered and upright with no leaning or tilting, like a wooden signpost, and so people called him Mr. Tablet. At that time, there were very few students outside of the Chen family who learned from Chen, Chang-xing. Because Yang was an outside student, he was treated unfairly, but still he stayed and persevered in his practice.

One night, he was awakened by the sounds of "Hen" (哼) and "Ha" (哈) in the distance. He got up and traced the sound to an old building. Peeking through the broken wall, he saw his master Chen, Chang-xing teaching the techniques of grasp, control, and emitting jin in coordination with the sounds “Hen” and “Ha.” He was amazed by the techniques and from that time on, unknown to master Chen, he continued to watch this secret practice session every night. He would then return to his room to ponder and study. Because of this, his martial ability advanced rapidly. One day, Chen ordered him to spar with the other disciples. To his surprise, none of the other students could defeat him. Chen realized that Yang had great potential and after that taught him the secrets sincerely.

After Yang, Lu-chan finished his study, he returned to his hometown and taught taijiquan for a while. People called his style Yang Style (Yang Quan, 楊拳), Soft Style (Mian Quan, 綿拳), or Neutralizing Style, (Hua Quan,化拳) because his motions were soft and able to neutralize the opponent's power. He later went to Beijing and taught a number of Qing officers. He used to carry a spear and a small bag and travel around the country, challenging well-known martial artists. Although he had many fights, he never hurt anybody. Because his art was so high, nobody could defeat him. Therefore, he was called "Yang Wu Di" (楊無敵) which means "Unbeatable Yang." He had three sons, Yang Qi (楊琦), Yang Yu (楊鈺) also called Ban-hou (班侯), and Yang Jian (楊鑒) also called Jian-hou (健侯). Yang Qi died when he was young. Therefore, only the last two sons succeeded their father in the art.

Sources: Yang Tai Chi History