This page is dedicated to :-
Great Grandmaster Wang Yongquan
Grandmaster Wei Shuren
In this page I have gathered the links to the posts I wrote elsewhere on this website on Seven Brief Lessons on Tai Chi.
I have written these series of posts to help the interested reader make sense of the wonderful, truly internal (in every sense of the word) art of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan that is transmitted via the lineage of Great Grandmaster Wang Yongquan (汪永泉) to Grandmaster Wei Shuren (魏樹人) and on to my teacher who is the current gatekeeper of the style.
The information here is not meant to be complete nor comprehensive. Instead, they come from my learning, reading and research. Some information, particularly that on the historical background, may differ from what you read elsewhere for whatever reasons that I care not to speculate except to say to the interested reader to make your own conclusions by reading widely and gathering as much information as you can.
History is interesting but it is not as important as being able to realize the skills because this is what keeps the style alive and vibrant to be transmitted to another generation. In this respect, it is imperative to keep an eye on the ball as far as this is concerned because it is said traditionally that “Boxing Does Not Leave (the) Hand, Maxim Does Not Leave (the) Mouth” (拳不离手, 訣不离口)
Our story of the Yang style began with Yang Jianhou (楊健侯), the second son of the founder of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan, Yang Luchan (楊露禅).
And of course, Yang Shaohou (楊少侯), the eldest son of Yang Jianhou.
Yang Chengfu (楊澄甫), the second (subsequently more famous) son of Yang Jianhou from another wife does not really figure much in our story except for a cultural reason.
Yang Jianhou and son, Shaohou, taught in the house of Pu Lun Bei Zi (溥伦贝子）, a Manchurian prince. Wang Chonglu (汪崇禄) was the head of housekeeping and admired the skills of the Yangs.
The profession of a martial arts teacher did not pay well and as such the Yang family were not well off. Wang decided to sell a piece of land and gave the money to the old master. Touched by Wang’s sincerity Yang Jianhou took Wang Chonglu on as a disciple and taught him the secrets of his family’s art.
Old master Yang also decided to teach Wang Chonglu’s son, Yongquan. However, in Chinese culture a master is like a father figure. As such, a father and son cannot have the same master as it is would be like having the same father. In view of this, Yang Jianhou directed Wang Yongquan to accept Yang Chengfu as his teacher instead.
The story continued years later with Wang Yongquan, now a master, teaching Yang style Tai Chi Chuan to the public and taking on disciples. However, the form that he taught then was not called Old Six Routines / Lao Liu Lu (老六路) and looked like the form made popular by Yang Chengfu with minor differences. This was because the Wangs had to take an oath of secrecy to never divulge the secret art of the Yang family or die a painful death.
Below is a video of Great Grandmaster Wang demonstrating the Yang style form he taught to disciples in the early part of his teaching years.
Fast forward. Wei Shuren, a master of Chen style Tai Chi Chuan, was invited by a friend to visit a Yang style master who had superlative skills. Wei who was then had passed the half century mark in age declined, saying that he didn’t feel that there was anything more for him to learn after mastering Chen style Tai Chi for many years.
Luckily the friend was persistent and two years later Grandmaster Wei made the visit and found a frail looking old man sitting in a rattan chair. Sensing Wei’s skepticism the old man beckoned him over and gave him an unforgettable fajing demo whilst still sitting down.
The demonstration astounded Grandmaster Wei who from that day on learned anew the art of Tai Chi Chuan by giving up his Chen style. That old man was of course Great Grandmaster Wang Yongquan who in the later part of his life decided to break his vow of secrecy rather than risk losing the art to posterity.
It is a little known fact that Grandmaster Wei Shuren was not a formal disciple of Great Grandmaster Wang Yongquan. However, this did not deter the old master from transmitting the art to Grandmaster Wei and others in order to ensure that it is passed on to future generations. Three years before Great Grandmaster Wang’s passing Grandmaster Wei broke through the gate of mastery and had it confirmed by Great Grandmaster Wang.
By comparison, the formal disciples of Great Grandmaster Wang who learned from him in the earlier stage of his teaching career (such as Master Zhu Haiyuan) were never taught the secret form known as Lao Liu Lu (老六路) or Old Six Routines as it is known in English.
Below is a video of Master Zhu Huaiyuan (朱怀远) demonstrating the Yang style form he learned from Great Grandmaster Wang. This form is today erroneously claimed to be Lao Liu Lu (老六路).
For those who are interested to know more I would recommend that you read Grandmaster Wei’s series of books on our Yang style and other books written by the earlier stage disciples of Great Grandmaster Wang Yongquan.
Today there are many more practitioners of this art than when I first started learning it. However, I also observed that the standard of performance can vary in terms of accuracy of movement, timing, expression of intent, generation of force, and so on.
Fortunately for the genuine learner videos of Grandmaster Wei playing the form can be found on the internet. They can be used as a companion learning tool to help us see the difference between our own and Grandmaster Wei’s performance.
Below is a video of Grandmaster Wei demonstrating the 22-form.
The art of Lao Liu Lu (老六路) is not difficult to learn but it is hellishly difficult to practice. This is because in order to really get into it you have to give up your old habits in order to experience a change in perception through the development of mindfulness, to discard the external in order to reach the state of emptiness that allows you to be opened up to receive the internal.
I cannot say that I have mastered the art entirely, however with what little insights I have I hope to shed some light on those who are eager and destined to find their way onto this solitary path that ends at a genuine cultural treasure of our ancestors.