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Learning the Stories of Yang Luchan and Wu Yuxiang PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 04 June 2007
Learning the Stories of Yang Luchan and Wu Yuxiang
    The family of WuYuxiang was the most reputable and distinguished of the ones in Guangfu Town then. Relevant information about him and his family could be found out and read on some county annuals, pedigree, records of graves and some papers written by his posterity. But the situation of Yang Luchan was different while there was a little information about him since he was born in a poor family. We could only find out some authentic information about him from a few talks and memories issued by some members of later generations.
     Nowadays there is a well-known story nowadays telling that Yang Luchan had gone to Chen'gou (also Chengjiagou) for three times and had studied Kung-fu for eighteen years. I think this story has been some what novelized thus it might not be authentic enough. The closer fact for sure was that Yang Luchan had been in Chenjiagou, Henan Province for several times learning Chang Quan (long boxing) Shi San Shi (thirteen postures) from Chen Changxing, However, when he left and returned, for how many times and how long he had been there aggregately have been still unknown. A script left by some senior masters and kept by a man named Xia Yongcheng living in West Street, Guangfu Town, Yongnian County, talks about that Yang Luchan had been in Chen'gou for three times but never indicate his staying time there of "eighteen years" or any specific time. Its main content is described as the following.
Both Yang Luchan and Wu Yuxiang had been studying Hong Quan (red fists) at the very beginning in their Kung-fu lives. They were friends because of their common Quan practices. While they knew later that the technique of Chang Quan Shi San Shi in Chenjiagou, Henan was quite skillful, Wu supported Yang financially to study Kung-fu over there. When Yang came back, he told Wu the Kung-fu he learned there totally. Wu Yuxiang was so smart that he learnt the Quan from Yang quite well. When they compared notes even in combating, Yang had usually failed indeed. He visited Chenjiagou once again but still could not win Wu after he came back, he was nearly angry so that he went to Chenjiagou for the third time. He got the key idea eventually. Coming back and meeting Wu, he had been keeping the key of the Kung-fu he learnt well as a secret. Several years later, Wu Yuxiang went to Henan on business. He bypassed Zhaobao Town and visited Chen Qingping. He studied Kung-fu with Chan for more than a month and totally got the point of Chen's Quan.
   Hereinafter let me analyze this piece of information.
   Yang was born in 1799, while Wu, 1812. They were bosom friends. Wu financially supported Yang to study Kung-fu in Chen'gou. We could see that Wu Yuxiang had reached his manhood, while Yang Luchan had been in his 30s then. Yang taught boxing in Beijing after 1840. It is indicated that .Yang was around ten years older than Wu. So it was suspicious that Yang had studied the Quan in Chenjiagou for eighteen years.
    When the two senior masters Yang Luchan and Wu Yuxiang studied the Quan in Henan Province, Yang had learnt Chang Quan Lao Jia (old frame) from Chen Changxing, wu studied Lao Jia indirectly and also learnt Chen'gou Chang Quan Xin Jia (new frame) from Chen Qingping. If the story is tree, why Yang's Tai Ji Quan and Wu's are so different from Chen's nowadays? Especially the Quan handed down from Wu and the one from Zhaobao Town have not been having even a slightest similar element with each of them. Why?
   Although Yang Luchan was only a man studying Kung-fu without much knowledge, he was
very excellent in studying the Quan. He studied new martial art with certain foundation and did not need to study some common and ordinary skills. What he should learn were unique skills and recipes he had never known. Wu Yuxiang was a talent on both literature and martial art. He even understood the importance of technical essentials. So they certainly would not go to Henan for exterior things. What can be learned then were all special know-how or talented techniques. They never followed others blindly or copied Kung-fu totally. They made good use of the strong points of others' Kung-fu to complement theirs, combined the quintessence of Chen's Quan with Guangfu's Kung-fu idea creating Yongnian Tai Ji Quan together. The forms of Yang's and Wu's Tai Ji were not accomplished in a single action or in a short time but formed by the efforts from generation to generation. Yang's Quan achieved Ding Xing Jia (fixed frame) until the years while Yang Chengfu one of the third generation in practicing Yang's Ta Ji, had reached his late level. The process of Wu's Quan has been more complicated. Wu Yuxiang and his two prentices Li yishe and 1J Qixuan did not teach Tai Ji professionally without any visual information or picture. Hao Weizhen, belonging to the third generation of them, widely accepted many disciples though, had never left any photo about his boxing actions. Practitioners of the second and third generations of Li Shi (Li style) also had not done this wore How they played the Quan only depending on what they had been thinking about. Hao Shaoru, one of the grandsons of Hao Weizhen, had left some writings, boxing and fighting photos as well as other video information. His earliest photo was taken during 1960s.
     The Kung-fu of Yang Luchan and Wu Yuxiang were not distinct or even different from each other when they had been studying the Quan together. The name of Tai Ji Quan had not come into being even in Chenjiagou or Zhaobao Town then. Different varieties or subspecies were categorize3 by later generations. Both senior masters Yang and Wu interchanged Kung-fu ideas, compared notes, subconsciously changed and created their boxing methods only because they loved to do so. They had never realized that they would be honored as the ancestors of Tai Ji Quan when they were alive. Yang paid more attention to practice and collected experiences by making friends, while Wu emphasized summarizing Tai Ji theories and recorded the theoretical system of the original through comparing notes with others. One of them was good at fighting, while the other was good in taking advantage of his brain. Their joint achievements would be enhanced by combining their good characteristics. Wu made good use of the strong points of Yang's skill and experience and then Yang learned the good qualities of Wu's theory. They affected each other causing Yongnian Tai Ji Quan gradually coming into being. Their researches work and results were certainly based on their practicing and fighting. When Wu tested what he had learned by competing with strong fighters, or when Yang left Yongnian to taught boxing in Beijing, each of them competed by fighting respectively. Maybe' attributing to the characteristics of Tai Ji Quan had been requiting practitioners to practice slowly in order to realize the moving track of the strength, or maybe attributing to the development of the era, a kind of slow and leisure Tai Ji Quan was formed. Yang's Quan became an unbound and free set of Quan only when it was passed to Yang Chengfu. To the circumstances of master Yang Chengfu, the style and manner of Ding Xing Jia was different to some extent from the ones of early Quan Jia. Wu's Quan had been also changed when I J Yishe, Hao Weizhen and some other practitioners inherited and practiced it.


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