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Yang Luchan - New Questions in a new comprehensive context
The studygroup "Yang Luchan" attempts to view the legendary Taiji master in a broader perspective than just myth and discussions on generation changes. It is a holistic frame including sino japanese research. Its goal is to further teachers' instruction free of ideology and loyalty to a master. The origins of taijiquan as a martial art are shrouded in mystery, and legends abound, but even if scientific/ academic scrutiny will not answer all questions that does not mean, we have to stick to lore and myth.
Yang Luchan - the bigger picture of comparative sino japanese research
On closer look various important questions arise. These might be of interest to both teachers and students of asian martial arts. So it is still unclear whether Yang Luchan was the founder of Yang Style Taijiquan or if he invented the art himself (together with Wu Yuxiang). Also it remains unclear the amount of interrelations between China and Japan - Many Chinese thinkers in the early 18th Century had an admiring fascination for bushido - see Miyamoto Musashi, Jujutsu and manuscripts of the Yang Family/ Yang Luchan. Source "Free Download: Yang Luchan Hours Pictures"
Yang Luchan Form and Eastern Martial Arts Development
Martial arts with intricate techniques had existed in China, in one form or another, for a very long time. Practioners had an admiring fascination for such highly sophisticated techniques that they seem to function by pure magic rather than strength. For many the Yang Luchan form is an inspiring example for such a task. But should he also serve as a model for the uniqueness of so called "Internal Martial Arts" as often emphasized? Certainly not! Official statements of leading masters at the Tai Chi Symposium are obviously wrong and the truth is plain to see: Japanese Jujutsu eg. uses internals which are strikingly similar to the Yang Luchan form. That is not surprising, for there has been much exchange over centuries between martial artists. This will be explored in depth on a special website in the context of postural alignment/ body structure, relaxation and proprioception in japanese Jujutsu: Shindo Yoshin Ryu and Yang Luchan Form.
And indeed, much of what is said about Yang Luchan is not very plausible and is obviously owed to naivitè or loyalty. For some schools this seems to be the rule rather then an exception. We are reminded of Thomas Gray's proverbial "Where ignorance is bliss..." or Plato's allegory of the cave.
Biography of Yang Luchan
- 1799: Born in Yongnian/ Hebei
- 1810: First Martial Arts experiences
- 1812: Working in a Wu family pharmacy
- 1822: First comments on Chang-Sanfeng-Classics
- 1826: Devolopment of "Old Yang Taijiquan Form"
- 1840: Learning further Wushu styles of Shaolin Schools
- 1841: First stay in Chenjiagou as servant
- 1849: Learning of Cen village martial art
- 1855: 2. stay in Chenjiagou as master
- 1862: Reputation as unvincible master
- 1870:Teaching in Beijing at the emperors's court
- 1872: Died in Bejing
Source International Studygroup www.yang-chengfu.de/yang-familie.html) and Studygroup Yang Luchan Form.
Yang Luchan research in a broader perspective
If Yang Luchan's martial art was so good and elaborate that he was never beaten by proponents of other martial arts, what were his taijiquan's "Internals"? And - yet more important for comparative research: Can these "Internals" be traced in other martial arts? The answer proves to be hard to explore, for many families kept their arts secret in the past. And yet worse: Nowadays martial arts competence is not very highly developed in the families compared to past masters with their extraordinary reputation and knowledge.
Reportedly Yang Luchan was doubtful if even his sons were on a par with him. Besides there are no reports whatsoever on continuing relations with the Chen family. So ilt does not seem that there has been an ongoing improvement through the following generatons. In short: Much is lost - or like in Japan still kept secret under Koryu!
The core feature is expressed in the verse from the "Classics": "Softness overcomes hardness" and in Yang Luchan's terms "cotton fist" and "soft fist". There is strong evidence that physics and biology play an often underestimated role, e.g. equilibrium/balance and fascia networks (see research on energy trains).
There are probbably connections and relations to japanese swordwork, Bushido and Jujutsu (see Y. Akiyama's Yoshin Ryu, which he developed along chinese lines and metafors like the chinese willow). In this comprehensive context it might provide insight to examine the NAIRIKI KATA - a series of traditional japanese exercises for Inner Strength, which probably also originate in China.
In this light it is of minor importance, whether Yang Luchan learnt Taijiquan in Chen village 陈家沟 in Henan Province or he invented it by improving what he learnt there together with Wu Yuxiang on the basis of their classical writings. If he had studied other martial arts before in his home place Yongnian, the question would be yet more difficult to explore.
no dev here
Various parties for different reasons keep claiming the interpretational sovereignty on what was the "original Yang Luchan Form" or the "Old Style". Interesting to note though that in those days the term "Taijiquan" was unknown
Yang Luchan supposedly unique concepts are "internals" which can be found in many elaborate martial arts
There are many theories, but they can be divided into two groups: Either he invented the art of taijiquan himself or he learnt it in Chenjiagou and modified it. We however favor an alternative way to look at it: Tang monastery/ monks, fasciae softness connectedness inner strength nairiki