I’d like to write an article about Yang Style Grandmaster Yang Chengfu (杨澄甫) because his teaching and books has a direct influence on our training.
Grandmaster Yang Chengfu (杨澄甫) (11th July 1883 – 3rd March 1936) is a 3rd generation of the Yang family. Not only is he a highly skilled Tai Chi master but, in my opinion, he is the second most influential Yang style Tai Chi master in history (the first being the Yang style founder Yang Luchan (杨禄禅)). He lived in Bejing but was invited to come and teach Tai Chi in “Central Martial Arts Institution” (中央国术馆) in the capital of Nanjing (南京) and later taught in many cities such as Hang Zhou (杭州), Guang Zhou (广州). Grandmaster Yang is the one who spread Tai Chi all over the country (China).
Under the Grand Master’s guidance, there were two books published under his name.
The 1st one was published in 1925 and written by his famous student Chen Weiming (陈微明) called “Tai Chi Quan Shu” (“太极拳术”). “The 10 guiding principle” is from the book. It contains the photos from Grandmaster Yang himself (earlier days). It is the first book described Yang style form in detail to the public.
The 2nd book is written in 1933 by another of his famous students Zheng Manqing (郑曼青) called “Essence and Applications of Tai Chi Quan” (太极拳体用全书). In here “Essence (体)” means form, “Applications (用)” means Push Hands or fighting application. The book includes newer photos from Grandmaster Yang and his own words of the learning process of Tai Chi (“Discussion of Taijiquan”).
With his teaching and the books, Tai Chi became possibly the most popular Martial Art at that time.
Grandmaster Yang Chengfu’s signature form is “Eight Five Form” (八五式). Please note it should be called “Eight Five form” not “Eighty-Five form”. It’s not eighty five movement. Eight means “Eight Pilgrim”. Five means “Five Element”. Together it reflects the thirteen fundamental techniques (see my other article titled “Tai Chi’s fundamental 13 techniques”).
Grandmaster Yang has many well-known students such as Grandmaster Zheng Manqing, who is very influential in spreading Tai Chi outside China. But at the time, the most famous students are the Five Tigers: Chen Weiming (陈微明), Wu Huichuan (武汇川), Tian Zhaolin (田兆麟), Chu Guiting (褚桂亭) and Dong Yingjie (董英杰).
Proudly, grandmaster Chu Guiting (褚桂亭) is my sigung (师公).