History of Yang Tai Chi
Yang Style Taiji was originated by Yang Luchan, originally of Yongnian Village, Hebei Province in north central China. Yang was a student of 14th generation Chen master, Chen Changxing. Yang, who studied in the Chen village in the first half of the 19th Century, was the first non-family member to be taught the arts of the Chen family. He and his sons and grandsons futher developed this art into the form we know today, particularly that of the Large Frame Yang of the grandson, Yang Chengfu who lived into the first half of the 20th Century.
Large Frame Yang Style can be described as comfortable, extended, and graceful and with slow, relaxed steady tempo and gentle, stable, flowing movements. It has become the famous form of the Yang school of Taijiquan. Yang Chengfu’s own words are, “Taijiquan is the art of softness containing hardness, of a needle concealed in cotton. The posture 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.” Owing to these qualities and to Yang Luchan’s original dissemination to the Imperial Family in Beijing, and his family’s later dissemination to the general public, it has become the most popular and widely spread of the styles both in China and Taiwan as well as world wide.
Fu Zhongwen Yang-style Form Part 1
Fu Zhongwen Yang-style Form Part 2
Contemporary Yang 24 National Forms Tai Chi
In 1956, the National Physical Culture and Sports Commission of the People's Republic of China, developed a simplified and shortened version of the Tai Chi Chuan form. It was based on the Yang family style of Tai Chi Chuan. The new short form consisted of 24 movements, and could be performed in 4 to 8 minutes. The Beijing short form eliminated some of the movements that are found in the Yang family long form such as sweeping Lotus kicks, Toe Kicks, Snake Darts out its Tongue, or Carry Tiger to the Mountain. The short form also greatly reduced the number of times that some movements are repeated in the long form (e.g., Ward-Off, Grasping the Sparrow's Tail, Waving Hands Like Clouds, or Single Whip). The traditional Yang style long form of Tai Chi Chuan has 108 movements (postures or parts).
The Beijing short form could be taught farily quickly to students of various ages in physical education programs. The brevity of the form appealed to students of all ages. The short form provided a standard form for use in some competitions. The new short form was less physically demanding than longer forms and other styles, and appealed to older beginners. It provided a good introduction to the basic elements of the Yang Family long form. When done properly, the short form can exemplify grace, beauty, and many fundamentals of the art. For these reasons, the short Peking version of the Yang style Tai Chi Chuan form has become quite popular and is now practiced and played all over the world. When performing the short form, players should: move slowly, move continuously, keep the movements rounded, move without great effort, relax, keep the head up, let the mind direct the movements, don't bounce, and maintain an upright posture. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, breathe deeply and regularly, breathe in when pulling back or reaching up, and breathe out when going forward or reaching down. All the basic principles found in the T'ai Chi Ch'uan Classics should be followed when doing the Beijing simplified taijiquan form.