The Intention Force Way Learning the Yang family's Tai Chi Chuan

A special transmission outside the scriptures; Not dependent on words or letters; By direct pointing to the mind of man, Seeing into one's true nature and attaining Buddhahood. - Bodhidharma on Zen


Yang style Tai Chi Chuan.

A very popular form of Northern Chinese combative art characterized by soft, rhythmic and gentle movements as expressed through a long form. Today Yang style Tai Chi Chuan is typically practiced more for health than combat.

True Tai Chi Chuan is not a matter of styles or forms. It goes beyond just mere training of the physical. To discover the essence of Tai Chi Chuan we have to detach ourselves from that which enslaves our body and mind with the mundane. Mastery of the art as dictated by the principles of the Tai Chi Classics requires that we seek that which utilizes the mind to train the body to optimize its own movements with little outer motions.

The Yang family Tai Chi Chuan legacy as transmitted from Yang Chienhou to Wang Yongquan to Wei Shuren to my teacher and to me was previously a secret method of using the intention to train the body to express the principles of Tai Chi Chuan for health and combat. Grandmaster Wang opened the doors cautiously to the public but Master Wei was the one who made the art truly accessible to the Chinese public through his books and DVD, and by taking on a number of disciples.

Master Wang Yongquan

Though there are more students of this lesser known method of the Yang family Tai Chi Chuan today, nevertheless, those with understanding that go beyond mere waving of hands remain few. As the art spreads further we can expect to see external deviations in terms of movements but that is fine as long as the internal characteristics are there. However, it would not surprise me should even the essence be forgotten as in the rush to mint money the unprepared anoint themselves as teachers.

Master Wang in Step Up to Seven Stars posture from the long form.

For example today many refer to this style as Imperial Tai Chi even though this lineage of Yang family Tai Chi Chuan has nothing to do with the imperial family. As far as I know neither Master Wang or Master Wei has ever referred to the art as such. In fact, at one time someone asked Master Wang why he did not call this art Wang style Tai Chi given its uniqueness. Master Wang angrily replied that this is the art of the Yang family Tai Chi Chuan and not something he concocted hence it would be misleading to call it Wang style Tai Chi Chuan. Sometimes I cannot help but wonder that perhaps it would have been better if Master Wang had indeed given the art a different name.

In this way, the art would not have been sidelined and given the short shrift by those with vested interests in their own style of Tai Chi Chuan. Normal people fear the unknown and we can expect the same even with master practitioners particularly when quizzed by curious students after they have read Master Wei's books and the master finds himself unable to shed light on the true meaning of the methodology described. It's not fair to ask one master to explain the methods of another even within the same perceived style; perhaps students just expect too much.

The Tao is perfect like unto vast space, With nothing wanting, nothing superfluous: It is indeed due to making choice, That suchness is lost sight of. - Jianzhi Sengcan in Inscription on the Believing Mind
Yang Chengfu

Prodigal Son

Yang Chengfu.

Son of Yang Chienhou.

Prodigal son.


A young Yang Chengfu; note the awkward misaligned posture

And later third generation Yang family Tai Chi Chuan successor.

A much older Yang Chengfu, now a famous Tai Chi Chuan master; note the power filled posture

Despite his less than auspicious start in the family art Yang Chengfu did eventually become the most prolific Yang family master since his lineage has spread far and wide. This was in spite of the fact that he did not want anything to do with the family art in the beginning, preferring to take up another outside northern art.

Closed Door Art

Before Yang Chengfu assumed the mantle of responsibility for the family art's propagation it was his father, Yang Chienhou who steered the transmission of the art.

Under Yang Chienhou the family art did not spread far and wide. It was not unusual for a family art to be transmitted in a limited manner. The norm in feudal China was for many family arts to be taught to sons only as the first tier of transmission.

Second tier transmission was to relatives and third tier to close friends and outsiders vouched for by someone on the inside. If the master had no son to pass the skills to then he would adopt a son who may take the family surname to continue the art under the family name.

For the rest i.e. the ordinary disciples and students it is normal that they will not be taught the complete syllabus nor offered explanations of the keys to developing their skills to the highest level.

Yang Chienhou

The Elder Brother

The elderly Master Yang was assisted by the elder son Yang Shaohou. Yang Shaohou was said to be an adept of the small frame form.

Yang Shaohou

The art of Yang Shaohou, the elder brother of Yang Chengfu, is lesser known today due to its limited transmission. This was because Yang Shaohou was a teacher of short temperament, wont to dishing out beatings. Plus he had little patience for teaching. Hence, the scarcity of practitioners of his lineage today.

The Path Diverges

It was said that the family agreed to let Yang Chengfu to be the family art's standard bearer if he were to return to the fold, take up the family art and spread it. This was preferred to letting him run around practicing another art to the shame of the family name. In this aspect Yang Chengfu performed admirably and cultivated many disciples who went on to spread his art inside and outside of China.

Yang Chengfu propagated a version of the family art that is best described as large frame. There have been suspicion that this version of the Yang family long form is a watered down version of what was practiced behind closed doors.

Some have also put forward the theory that the Yang family masters actually practiced what is today known as Chen style forms, particularly the 2nd routine known as Cannon Fist, behind closed doors. Conspiracy theorists have claimed that the Yang family purposely created watered down, less complex and physically demanding forms to teach to outsiders particularly the royal family members.

Without concrete proof or knowing the true circumstances of the times it is difficult to say which claim or theory is more plausible. As such, we can only examine the facts and art before us and reach our own conclusions, believing what we want to believe.

Beginning the Journey

I started my learning of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan via the Cheng Man Ching lineage through Master Hiu. This style was very popular in my country of birth, Malaysia. I began my learning journey in the Yang style by not knowing or understanding the style or lineage of Tai Chi Chuan.

Master Cheng Man Ching

It was only years later when I had access to martial arts literature that I had a grasp of this lineage's position in the story of the Yang family Tai Chi Chuan and its transmission outside of China. In particular, there is a hint that the Cheng Man Ching lineage was not entirely Yang Chengfu-centric.

Nip Chee Fei

My next stop in the learning of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan was in the lineage of Nip Chee Fei who was also well known as a master of Choy Li Fut. Nip was exiled from China after the communists overran the country. He was invited to Malaysia to teach Tai Chi Chuan. My teacher, Master Leong, is the 2nd disciple of Nip.

Master Nip Chee Fei

I met Master Leong in a park in my hometown after returning from overseas education. Again I was not so much into lineage then so I never really asked indepth questions about Master Leong's line. But later from what I found out in brief was that Nip had invited Yang Chengfu to go to his home to instruct him in Tai Chi Chuan. Nip had learned and mastered enough to teach and later even earned a doctorate degree by writing a thesis on the art.

Master Leong demonstrating the long pole technique.

Master Leong was a teacher who could explain how to use the techniques of the Yang Chengfu long form of self defense. He could also hold his own in push hands against outsiders. I mentally took notes on the applications and later typed them up into a draft manuscript.

Yang Sau Chung

Whilst training with Master Leong I got to know of an elderly gentleman, Mr Wong, who practiced the Cheng Man Ching style of Tai Chi Chuan.

Mr Wong's son, Richard, had furthered his tertiary studies in the Queen's country. Whilst there he had lived with and later studied Tai Chi Chuan with Master Chu Kin Hung. Master Chu is one of the only three disciples of Yang Sau Chung, the eldest son of Yang Chengfu. Prior to learning from Master Yang, Chu was learning Yiquan from the famed Master Han, a senior student of Wang Xiangzhai who created Yiquan. Richard said that Master Chu went to try out Master Yang, lost and asked to learn.

Yang Sau Chung

I knew who Master Chu was as I first heard about him as the teacher of Erle Montaigue, a noted columnist for a martial arts magazine in Australia. Later Richard mentioned that Erle had left Master Chu before he started his learning so he only knew him by name. I missed meeting Master Chu when he flew over to Malaysia to attend Richard's wedding. By then I had already moved to the Lion City.

Chu Kin Hung

After reading of Master Chu through Erle's writings I was keen to learn from Richard. Class was in the morning at his father's home where he was then living the life of a bachelor. There were only the three to four of us in class depending on the schedule.

We practiced in the porch area. Each session would commence with half an hour of zhanzhuang. Thereafter, we would move to practicing the form before ending with a short session of push hands.

During the time I was there I got to hear of the fantastic skills of Master Chu, some of which Richard had witnessed personally. There was the story of how Master Chu could drop students on the ground leaving them spinning like a top. The other one I can recall is the one whereby Master Chu jumped onto a stage to land on a stick balanced on two objects without breaking them. I must admit that if I were the one reading this I would be skeptical because it sounds too fantastic to be true. Anyway, who was I to doubt Richard.

Now if all Richard could do was to tell the tales of the prowess of Master Chu then it would have been too bad. But Richard had some interesting things to show. There weren't demonstrations of fighting skills but could be considered as factors that could assist one's combat skills.

I stayed with Richard for a little over a year when economic factors pushed me to leave Malaysia for Singapore in search for work.

Dong Yingchieh

Life can take strange turns. The early years of the start of a new life in Singapore was also the period when famous Chen style Tai Chi Chuan masters visited for the Lion City to give seminars and to spread the art.

Some of the schools teaching Chen style were located in Geylang which was about half an hour's drive away. But to someone jobless and without wheels the schools might be an eternity away. Nevertheless, I managed to visit a school but economics-wise the time was wrong so I left it at that.

For the next few years the idea of learning Tai Chi Chuan remained on the shelf. It was only after I attained some measure of job stability that I revisited the notion. I knew there would be a number of schools out there but which was right for me? Then I had an idea.

Years earlier I had found a book store specializing in the sales of martial arts books and magazines. Since the proprietor, Mr Loh, looked like he knew a lot about the local martial arts scene why not ask him for advice. Mr Loh knew me as a Wing Chun practitioner, the style I was focused on then rather than for Tai Chi Chuan which I actually took up way before Wing Chun.

A young Mr Loh demonstrating halberd applications.

So when I posed the question of where to learn Tai Chi Chuan that was oriented to combat Mr Loh had two recommendations. The first was a school located in Chinatown and the second was not a school but a teacher.

Master Dong Zhenchen outside Mr Loh's book store.

I made plans to visit the school and also contacted the second recommended teacher for a meeting. On a week night I went to visit the school which was in a clan association. The class was on the rooftop and quite packed. I was not taken by what I saw and left.

Discouraged by the visit to the school I did not feel like meeting up with the other teacher the next day. After all the second teacher was also from the same style as the school I just visited. I incorrectly made the association that the quality of one would be similar to the other just because they are of the same style. As it would eventually turned out I was wrong. In the meantime I decided to press on with the appointment since it would have been rude to cancel at the last minute.

Dong Style Master Yap

One of the first books I bought in Singapore was this book with a red cover written by Tung Ying Chieh (or Dong Yingchieh in Hanyu Pinyin). Little did I realize that I would soon step into the Tai Chi Chuan world of the Dong family.

Master Dong Yingchieh's famous red book on Tai Chi Chuan

The meeting with Mr Loh's second recommendation took place in an unusual setting - a legal beagle's office in the business district on a warm week day afternoon. Most visits to view a prospective teacher typically starts with them offering information on lineage, what I could expect to learn and class information. However, that was not to be the case here.

Master Yap is the only Singapore disciple of Master Dong Huling, the son of Dong Yingchieh. Master Yap opening salvo was to pose a question to me about a Tai Chi Chuan movement, a movement which I had done many times and should know well. But the question confounded me. In retrospect it was like the Tai Chi Chuan equivalent of a Zen koan. It should not be that difficult to answer. Yet, I had the faintest suspicion that this was a trick question of sorts.

Master Dong Huling
Master Yap demonstrating push hands in 2005; photo was screen captured from a video posted on Vimeo by Terence Ng who wrote that he learned from Mark Lim. I knew a Mark from the Chinatown school but unsure if it is the same person I knew.

I took a stab at answering, carefully phrasing my sentences. But as soon as the words were out of my mouth I earned a smile from Master Yap. He had gotten me. My ignorance was plain for him to see. He said that real Tai Chi Chuan was not only a rare sight but also a rare scent! I was intrigued but what he said didn't really enlighten me further other than to let me know that I had dived into a deep lake. At the end of the short meeting Master Yap invited me to meet with his senior, Master Dong Zhenchen, who was then in town on a visit.

Meeting Master Dong Zhenchen

Shenton Way at night is a quiet place, more so on the fringe area where the YMCA is. This was where I'll be meeting Master Dong, 3rd generation master of the Dong family style of Tai Chi Chuan which was founded by his grandfather, the very same Dong Yingchieh whose red book I mentioned earlier.

I was taken to a guest room by Master Yap. I forgot which floor it was since two decades must have gone by. I do remember that the room was gloomy but Master Dong welcomed me with a smile that could well lit It up. My perception of high level, famous masters was that they are aloof, stern and unsmiling but here was Master Dong really friendly and approachable.

Master Dong Zhenchen

Master Dong was in the midst of playing push hands with his students in the small room when I entered. He went back to it, giving me a close look at how a top master did it against resisting partners and boy were some of them really putting up a strong resistance.

One slim, dark and tough looking gentleman (later I found out he was working as a contractor) tried his best to resist Master Dong's strokes. In one instance Master Dong took advantage of his resistance to apply a powerful Pluck which sent the training partner hurling forward. Fortunately, they were pushing hands next to the bed (that's how small the room was) and the dark chap crashed headlong into it.

In the second instance when Master Dong tried to unbalance the dark chap forward he sat back firmly into his stance to resist being pulled forward by the master. Master Dong quickly changed tactic and pushed him downwards instead. This caused the dark chap to land hard on his tailbone on the carpeted floor. The pain made him jumped up with a howl.

Master Dong then turned to me and invited me to demonstrate a Tai Chi Chuan. I did a short sequence, thinking I must suck big time. However, Master Dong generously smiled and applauded. Then he asked me to try pushing hands with him.

In the learning of Tai Chi Chuan there are certain moments that would made such an impression that it's impossible to ever forget them. Touching Master Dong's hands was one such memorable encounter.

Master Dong held out his right arm and I moved to connect with my right arm. The very next moment I found myself sailing backwards into the wall. I didn't see nor felt how Master Dong had done what he just did. It was truly magical to the then ignorant me.

Next Master Dong asked me to try out Master Yap. I was more prepared the second time. Or at least I thought I was. It was a wrong assumption because the moment our arms contacted Master Yap neutralized my resistance quickly and counterattacked. Tried as I did I could not get away from Master Yap's attack and found myself being backpedalling and pushed against the wall.

Master Yap with Master Dong Zhenchen in a group photo.

The night ended with Master Dong performing the Fast Form which his grandfather had created. No words could truly capture the performance I witnessed. Master Dong's movements was hypnotic like a cobra gently swaying its body to mesmerize its prey before suddenly lunging with its deadly fangs.

Learning the Dong Method

I was excited to have discovered the Dong style and would have loved to jump right in and start my learning. Alas, the heart was willing but the pocket empty. The economics of demand and supply is that a good teacher does not come cheap. With a lowly paid job lessons were temporarily out of the question.

I would hook up with Mr Yap now and then to see if I can get some free information. But seriously, whatever information he would give freely was pretty useless without having the method to practice it. In Tai Chi Chuan the primary method for the training of skills lies in the long form. Until I took up formal lessons I was simply not going to be taught the form for free. So I waited until my financial situation improved.

A year later, a new job and I could at least barely afford to pay for lessons. This took place by the swimming pool in a condominium in Tanglin, an area where the well off lived.

A typical lesson revolved around learning form and push hands. I spent the first three months learning the first section of the form. The way of practicing the long form was different from the methods I had learned previously. For more information the reader can refer to the TaijiKinesis Vol 2 : Learning the Taijiquan Form.

The TaijiKinesis series of eBooks; Volume 2 introduces a very important training method I learned from Master Yap that allowed me to make my first real progress.

For push hands training since I was taking private lessons Master Yap worked with me personally. Each session we would easily have spent up to an hour doing just push hands. Instead of going through fixed patterns we worked on flow, responses, tactics, etc in an informal manner. In this way my push hands improved a lot faster in a much shorter period of time.

Later lessons moved over to the lobby of the condominium where Master Yap was living. This was in the Cairnhill area. The condominium was later sold to a developer and demolished. By then I had begun the next stage in my Tai Chi Chuan learning journey.

Before the learning journey was over I also spent a little time at the Dong Yingchieh association in Chinatown. Master Yap was the president of the association but having problems with some of the senior elderly members. Soon I stopped going for lessons as politics was not my cup of tea.

I walked away not just with a much better understanding of Tai Chi Chuan but also an instructor license for which Master Yap had sponsored me to take. At that time anyone who wanted to teach martial arts in Singapore has to be sponsored by his teacher and governing association on top of taking part in an examination overseen by a panel of masters appointed by the Martial Arts Control Unit which was under the purview of the Singapore Police Force. It was an honor to be the first student put forward by Master Yap for instructor status. Who knows how my learning path would have turned out if I had stayed on.

Wei Shuren

4 Aug 1993. That is the postmark of a letter from my senior from Down Under. A letter in which I first heard about Wang Yongquan and his student, Wei Shuren.

The book that first introduced the Secret Training Method for Intention of the Yang family Tai Chi Chuan by Grandmaster Wang Yongquan who had learned from Yang Chienhou. The book was actually written by Master Wei Shuren and published after Grandmaster Wang's passing. The book spawned three best selling sequels.

I didn't know it at that time but Master Xie Shoude, the 8th disciple of Wei Shuren was teaching in Australia. Through Xie the art and subsequently Master Wei was introduced to the public. It was Xie's doing that also led to Master Wei accepting students directly when Xie failed to teach the art properly and created an aura of secrecy to benefit himself financially.

You can say that one thing led to another and I ended up having the opportunity to learn the art from my senior. In the interim he had the opportunity to meet and touch Master Wei's hands and was extremely impressed with the power of authentic Yang family Tai Chi Chuan.

As the wheel of fate continued to spin Master Wei started to accept disciples one of whom turned out to be my teacher in this art in later years. My teacher invited Master Wei to live with him for three months whilst transmitting the art closely on a daily basis. My teacher trained very hard and upon Master Wei's retirement was named the school's gatekeeper and one of only two persons authorized in writing by Master Wei to pass on the art.

Letting the Cat Out

The Yang family particularly Yang Chienhou kept their treasure close to the chest. When Yang Chienhou was teaching in the 4th Prince's dwelling it was said that any discussion of the art with his son, Yang Shaohou was carried out when there were no outsiders around and they talked in a hushed manner, never writing anything in ink, but using water to write out the strokes of the Chinese characters so that no record remained after the water dried out.

Due to the 4th Prince's generosity and sincerity Yang Chienhou imparted certain information and skills to him. However, the Yang family didn't exactly become wealthy from teaching Tai Chi Chuan to the Prince. On the contrary, they were still far from financially well off.

Wang Chonglu, the father of Wang Yongquan, was the chief steward in the Prince's dwelling and took an interest in the Yang's art. He showed his sincerity by selling his property and giving the proceeds to Yang Chienhou who moved by Wang's gesture agreed to teach the secrets of this art to the elder Wang and his son. There was one very important condition though which was that under no circumstances was the Wang family revealed what they had learned to anyone or suffer a tragic demise. The other thing was that the young Wang had to call Yang Chengfu his teacher since father and son cannot share the same teacher as was the custom then.

A frail Grandmaster Wang Yongquan who could not stand without assistance demonstrating fajing whilst seating down in a public park in Beijing in 1987.

In later years Wang Yongquan would teach Tai Chi Chuan to the public but he only taught the Yang Chengfu version of the long form. He was careful not to divulge his knowledge of the secret side of the Yang family's art. Hence, Wang's early disciples never got to learn this art.

When the information was finally revealed with the publication of the book on the secret long form some went to ask Wang's most senior disciple, Master Chu, about it but he was caught with his pants down. He was confounded as he had never heard Wang mention nor taught the hidden skill of using intention through this very different version of the Yang style long form. The genie was out of the bottle and not about to be put back in.

Later, perhaps out of embarrassment for not having learned the hidden art of his own master Master Chu made allegations that Master Wei took a secret manuscript detailing the skills and learned from it. Having learned the art and knowing how difficult it is to learn even from a teacher I can say that Master Chu had no idea what he was talking about and in making such baseless accusation showed his true character and how little he really knew about the workings and learnings of Tai Chi Chuan at the level of using intention.

Master Wang Yongquan demonstrating fajing on Master Wei Shuren.

Later, others from the deprived disciple's lineage indirectly alleged that since Master Wei was not a disciple how could he have learned the secret art. It is true that Master Wei was not a formal disciple of Master Wang. However, we should remember that in his youth Wang had taken a terrible oath, one which he would break eventually and indeed suffer a tragic ending later but the concern over losing the art made him cast aside his oath.

Thus, in the last stage of his teaching career Master Wang would begin to teach the Yang family's secret skill through the long form known as Lao Liu Lu or Old 6 Routines. I know that before the publication of Master Wang's book no Yang style master from the Yang Chengfu line has called their long form by the name of Old 6 Routines. Some two decades later this name is used more for forms and by lineages that have no business using this name in the first place.

Master Wang demonstrating his refined fajing skill on Master Wei Shuren.

Master Wei Shuren

Prior to meeting Master Wang Yongquan, Master Wei was a contented master of Chen style Tai Chi Chuan. A friend told him of an old master with superlative skill that he must meet. Master Wei famously said that there was nothing more for him to learn in Tai Chi Chuan since he had attained a high level of skill.

Master Wei Shuren

The friend persisted. Some two years later a reluctant Master Wei stood before Master Wang who was sitting down in a rattan chair. Master Wei was skeptical and it must have shown on his face. Master Wang waved Master Wei over. Leaning back in his chair Master Wang asked Wei to extend his middle fingers. Master Wang grasped both of Wei's middle fingers by the tips, showed Wei that it would not be easy if not impossible to fajing him in this manner.

In the next instance Master Wei was thrown back, an expression of surprise on his face. He had not expected this and in his heart knew that for all his Chen style attainment he just did not have anything close to what Master Wang just demonstrated on him. So on the wrong side of fifty Master Wei set aside all that he had learned before and began to learn afresh from Master Wang.

Master Wang explaining the principles of fajing using intention skills to Master Wei Shuren and other fellow students in a Beijing public park on 6 Jun 1987.

In the attainment of enlightenment a Zen Buddhist student is led to awakening by his teacher. The teacher would confirm if the student had gotten it. Three years before Master Wang's passing Master Wei broke through the gate of mastery and had it confirmed by Master Wang.

If you take a look at the posture of Master Wei in the first and second book you will no doubt notice a startling difference. The photos in the first book showed Master Wei as having attained the characteristics of the art but the photos in the sequel showed that he had broken through the constraints of the form into the realm of true formlessness.

The Legacy Continues

11 June 2013.

On this day Master Wei Shuren passed on.

Master Wei in Pluck posture from the long form.

It is fortunate that his art lives on. A number of his disciples have emerged to teach what they know.

Though I know but little I too realized the importance of not losing the skills that Master Wang and now Master Wei have left as their legacy. If we do not pass on the art it will die out, too easily too if I may add. We must realize that the lineage, principles and forms are means to an end and not turn them into things to blindly worship.

Master Wei must have realized this when instead of relying on using the long form to teach the skill he decided to create a shorter form to cater to today's fast paced society.

Overview of the Art

In this section I will introduce the once secret art of Tai Chi Chuan of the Yang family. The art as taught in Master Wang Yongquan's time focused only on the learning of one long form.

Yes, you read correctly.

The learning is all on the one long form!

However, when Master Wei's started to take on more disciples he created a shorter 22 movement form that could be practiced in a much shorter time by the modern, busy practitioner. Towards the end of his life the 22 form was categorized as the beginner's level form and a new 37 form created to cater for intermediate level students.

Master Wei demonstrating Step Back Repulse Monkey movement from the 22 form

Whilst this would make the art seemingly more organized it may instead make practitioners hung up on learning forms and chasing the learning levels rather than focused on mastering the principles. It was said in the early days of the 22 form that to practice this form is the same as practicing the essence of the long form, the 108 form, which was passed down by Yang Chienhou and now relegated to the status of advanced level form.

Master Wei's daughter, Wei Shiping, demonstrating the 37 form.

In summary, the learning of the Yang family Tai Chi Chuan revolves around the practice of the long form as a means to understand and master the principles. From there the practitioner can progress to learning the different methods of fajing, Rou Shou (kneading hands which is this style's method of push hands) and combat usage.

Learning Principles

The learning of Yang family Tai Chi Chuan involves the copious use of intention to create certain imagery in the mind to guide the body to move in compliance to the principles of the Tai Chi Classics.

Thus, it is said in the practice of the form that intention must govern each and every movement. Many of the principles cannot be performed physically, the intention has to be in place to get the body to obey what the mind is dictating in order to truly perform the principle to the required standard. Below I will introduce some of these principles.

Principle 1 : Wrist Elongation

This principle requires the forearm-wrist-hand to be aligned such that the wrist feels as if it is elongated. This is to optimize the flow of force. Some who see this forearm-wrist-hand alignment the first time associate it with the well known fair maiden's hand made popular by the Cheng Man Ching lineage.

Wrist elongation

However, there is a substantial difference between the principle of wrist elongation and the fair maiden's hand. As mentioned in the chapter on force method the hand must also be holding an imaginary sphere.

Using the imagery of a sphere to generate force

Hence, the wrist elongation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for force issuance. To do so one must also utilize the hand sphere.

Master Wang can be seen using the wrist elongation principle to fajing in this photo.

Principle 2 : Elbow-Waist Ring

This principle is important as it teaches us to keep the arms connected and coordinated to the body using the idea of an imaginary ring to link the elbows to the waist which is an important prime mover.

Using the mental idea of a ring to coordinate the body.

Principle 3 : 3-Qi Rings

The use of 3-Qi Rings is a unique characteristic of the Yang family Tai Chi Chuan of the Master Wei Shuren lineage. The 3-Qi Rings does not exist outside of the mind. However, if one assiduously train the method daily in time to come the rings will feel real and can be used for force generation.

The 3-Qi Rings

Principle 4 : Chest Cross

The Chest Cross is a mental mechanism for adjusting the body's balance by imaging that a cross on the chest is leveling horizontally and stretching out vertically.

The Chest Cross Mechanism

The prolonged practice of this mechanism can train your body to achieve delicate internal balance which is important to support the ability to fajing with minimal outer movement.

Principle 5 : 3-Passes

The 3-Passes involves the use of intention to connect the tailbone to the back and back of the head so as to unify the body as a coordinated whole. There are four variations of the 3-Passes which are trained in the forms.

The first variation of the 3-Passes

In this section I introduced five of the unique Internal body work of Yang family Tai Chi Chuan with brief explanation.

Sample Force Generation Models

A unique aspect of Yang family Tai Chi Chuan is the use of intention to guide the body to generate force with optimal movements. In this section I will highlight three examples.

Force Model 1

The first force generation model uses a combination of vertical and horizontal spirals.

Force Model 2

I dub this the hollow tube model of force generation. It is one of the easier models to pick up once students have a good grasp of the wrist elongation principle.

Hollow tube force generation

The idea is simply that when your opponent tries to exert his force you should use your intention to let his force dissipate into emptiness. The moment his force is disabled you can send the opponent off balance by imagining that your force is traveling through his arm as if his arm is a hollow tube.

Force Model 3

The large sphere force generation is an advanced method of fajing that depends on your mastery of the eight fundamental forces plus other critical internal mind-body principles.

The large sphere force generation model

There are many more force generation models in the Yang family Tai Chi Chuan. The three models highlighted here are but the tip of the iceberg.

The Future

Easy to learn, difficult to practice - is a common refrain applied to the learning of many martial arts. However, I would say authentic Yang family Tai Chi Chuan principles are difficult to learn and practice, and even more difficult to master. Mind you the art is not impossible to master otherwise how can it be transmitted on. It's just not that straightforward or easy to master without a lot of sincere effort.

Whether the art will survive another generation intact is a good question. It is one thing to learn the forms and another thing to truly master the intricacies of the art especially the unique intention force generation methods. No one will really know. We can but try to each do our part.

About Author

Mushin is a practitioner, researcher and teacher for Yang style Tai Chi Chuan focusing on learning of emptyhands forms, push hands, weapons and intention generation force of Yang family Tai Chi Chuan.

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