Yang Fu Quai is the founder of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan. Also know as Lu Chan, he was born in Nan Quan village of Yong Nian County. He came from a farming family and during periods after harvest time, he used to work in a grocery in the west side of the county. One day a troublemaker burst into the local dispensary and proceeded to insult the proprietor, claiming that he was not a local. He did this in an attempt to shame the proprietor into reducing the price on some precious herbs that he wished to buy. Without provocation the bully struck out at the proprietor, who with a sudden thrust of his hands, sent the troublemaker hurling a few meters out of the dispensary.
The crowd that gathered was greatly impressed by the incident. Lu Chan, who was amongst them, thought to himself that the proprietor must posses outstanding Wu Shu (martial art) ability and he was filled with respect at his skill. In his youth, Lu Chan had learnt Shaolin Temple Kung Fu, but had never managed to acquire its techniques. He made up his mind to call on the proprietor to find out what martial art he practiced.
At first the proprietor was reluctant to even discuss his technique. Later, moved by Lu Chan’s sincerity and earnest desire to know more, he told him that he practiced Mien Chuan (soft / continuous fist), also called as Tai Chi Chuan. He explained to Lu Chan that his skill was limited, but that his Master lived in Henan’s Chen Jia Gou (Chen family village), and was known as Chen Chang Xing. He advised him to seek Master Chen out, with a view to learning from him.
Six years later, he returned to Yong Nian, arriving during the festivities of the Lunar New Year. Observing his return, some of the local Wu Shu practitioners sought to test his skill by trying to crowd him, under the pretext of being in a festive mood. None of them managed to get close to him and the crowd laughed, saying that at last he had been successful in mastering Wu Shu. There lived in Yong Nian a noble named Wu, who was related to Master Chen Chang Xing and himself was a Wu Shu expert. On hearing of Lu Chan’s return, he challenged him to a competition, from which Lu Chan emerged undefeated.
After some 10 years of study, Lu Chan’s martial art was exceptional. However, he had still not acquired a deep understanding or appreciation of Tai Chi Chuan’s intricate techniques. Thus he was prompted to return for a third time to Chen Jia Gou (Chen Family Village).
At that time, it was common practice among Wu Shu masters, not to pass every aspect of their skill to their students. Master Chen was no exception.
However, Lu Chan’s humility and earnest respect moved his Master deeply. Chang Xing gathered his clan together and announced: “Lu Chan has been a student for over 10 years. He has journeyed to Chen Jia Gou on three separate occasions. His spirit and determination in perfecting his Wu Shu are traits not easily found among all of us. As I am getting on in years, I cannot allow my Wu Shu to be lost. I have decided to hand this art which i had learned from Jiang Fa and technique to Lu Chan for posterity.”
Following his announcement, Master Chen was still plagued by doubt as to the future of his knowledge and he decided to test Lu Chan’s integrity for the last time. He did this by distancing himself from Lu Chan. His ploy had no effect and Lu Chan continued to devote his his efforts towards the perfection of his Wu Shu technique. Often when they met, Chang Xing would pretend to be drunk, lying on his bed or just ignoring Lu Chan totally.
Lu Chan remained unperturbed and never uttered an ill word about his Master. Eventually, Master Chen was totally convinced of Lu Chan’s integrity and he transmitted the entire essence and secret of his Wu Shu to him.
Three years later, Master Chen had completed his task and he told Lu Chan, “You may go now as you have mastered Tai Chi Chuan to distinction. You can now say that no-one compares with you.” Thus was the formation of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan.
So Lu Chan left his Master’s village and some years later established himself in Beijing. There he acquired a great reputation for his matchless skill and was never defeated, earning himself the nikname of Yang Wu Di (Peerless Yang, Yang the invincible).
In his travels, Lu Chan once visited the home of the Chang family in Beijing. A family of humble origin, the Changs had grown wealthy through their involvement with the coal mining industry. Consistent with their new-found social stature, they employed a number of Wu Shu teachers in their household as retainers, as well as a number of aspiring martial artists. Every evening, they would gather as a family, to practice their Wu Shu in preparation for competitions.
As his reputation spread throughout Beijing, “Yang Wu Di” as he was called, became a much sought after celebrity guest in the households of the nobility. It became the vogue to invite him along to banquets and celebrations as an honoured guest of the household. Unswayed by all this attention, Lu Chan maintained the principle of not teaching Wu Shu to just anyone. He would first give much thought and consideration to each individual case. Students who were genuinely earnest in their search, were rewarded, as he passed his knowledge to them without regard to status or influence.
One of Lu Chan’s sons, Ban Hou has a son named Shao Pung alias Ling Shao. Shao Pung and his cousin Cheng Fu taught Wu Shu at Shanghai, Zhejiang and Guangxi. When Cheng Fu grew up, he became Yong Nian’s foremost Tai Chi Master and was affectionately known as Master Yang. Shao Hou had one child, a son named Zen Sen. Cheng Fu had 4 sons: Cheng Ming, Cheng Ji, Cheng Do and Cheng Gua. The elder two sons, Cheng Ming and Cheng Ji were considered to be better skilled of his progeny, in Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan.
From a tender age, Cheng Fu was taught Wu Shu by his father. He became very dedicated to his art and as he matured, his expertise increased greatly. As a result of his profound knowledge and understanding of his art, he was aware of the benefits from its practice. An intelligent, talented man, Cheng Fu possessed enormous stamina and energy. In time, he became the Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan and is reputed to have been one of the foremost Martial Artists of the 20th century.
Among Yang Cheng Fu’s many disciples, Fu Zhong Wen was especially highly regarded by him for his excellent character. Zhong Wen happens to marry the great grand-daughter of Yang Jian Hou, Mdm. Zhao Gui Zhen, and gave birth to another great Tai Chi Master of our time, Fu Sheng Yuan.
From the age of nine, Fu Zhong Wen, was by Cheng Fu’s side, learning Wu Shu from him both by day and by night. Zhong Wen’s diligence and determination in mastering the art of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan, saw him advance rapidly in the knowledge and expertise of Wu Shu. As he was learning directly from Cheng Fu, he was able to derive tremendous benefit from and gained profound insight into Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan. Consequently his Wu Shu skills attained a very high standard.
As he matured in age and skill, Zhong Wen accompanied Cheng Fu in his travels around their homeland, to demonstrate Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan. He also served as Cheng Fu’s assistant in teaching and earned his Master’s highest regard.
In their travels to Guangdong, Zhong Wen represented his Master in many local competitions, not once failing to uphold his Master’s honour. So highly regarded was he by his peers, that Cheng Fu’s first disciple,Chen Wei Ming wrote to him after their Master’s death, acknowledging the excellence of Zhong Wen’s Wu Shu and the accuracy with which he reflected their Master’s art. On his death bed, Cheng Fu passed leadership of Yang Shi Tai Chi Chuan to his student, Fu Zhong Wen.
In order to carry on the work of his Master in spreading Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan to all people, Zhong Wen established the Yong Nian Tai Chi Chuan Society of Shanghai. Since then, hundreds of thousands of students have come under his instruction. In May of 1958, Zhong Wen went to Shanghai City to teach a Wu Shu group there. Under his expert guidance, many of these students were successful competitors in the National Wu Shu competitions. Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan as practised in Shanghai, is regarded as the best form of Tai Chi Chuan in the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.).
In 1959, the P.R.C. featured Fu Zhong Wen’s Tai Chi Dao (Sabre) in its international sports publication. The P.R.C. also published his book, entitled Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan, in 1963. Translations of this book have reached Japan, U.S.A. and France and he was highly regarded in the International Wu Shu community. Master Fu Zhong Wen, his son Master Fu Sheng Yuan and grand-son Master Fu Qing Quan, were invited to tour Japan in 1987, by the Wu Shu Society of Japan. Thus is one of the stories of one of the lineage’s of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan.