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(9 pages total)

Page 3 - Taijiquan (T'ai Chi) Basics

Wu Du Nan

(Yang style Taijiquan continued)

Yang LuShan like to fight and traveled throughout northern China in search of fighters with good reputations to challenge. His skill was highly respected and it earned him the nickname of Yang WuTi, which translates roughly to "Yang with no enemy and no rival". His small, thin build was in contrast to the typical "fighter" of the day, and legends about him abound.

Yang LuShan became the first instructor to openly teach Taijiquan to the public. His Yang style stressed the health, physical fitness, as well as the self-defense and fighting aspects of the art.

In his later years, Yang LuShan explained that while teaching in Beijing, he witnessed the improvement of his student's health and realized that Taijiquan could play an important role in saving his nation by strengthening the weak.

Despite his teachings and stress on health, when listening to the many stories which abound about the skill of Yang LuShan, one is immediately impressed with the personal emphasis on his martial skills. He lived in a time when martial artists were like the gun-slingers of the American West. He faced many challengers, and easily defeated them all.

The stories tell of the high skill, intelligence, and sensitivity that he used, not the toughness, strength, size, or stamina common in other martial arts of that era.

Even in such a short history of the Yang style, we would be remiss if we didn't include Yang Cheng-Fu, (1883-1936). A huge man by Chinese standards, well educated, and mostly self-taught from notes, memories, and early childhood instruction from his grandfather (Yang Lu-Shan), he was able to grasp the principles of Taijiquan and reach a high skill level in the art. He is responsible for the well defined, soft, and stable Yang style forms so popular today.

Wu Du Nan, a famous modern Yang style master from Beijing practiced and taught regular classes in the parks until the age of 102. His excellent memory and recollections of practicing taijiquan since his youth was often used by scholars to verify historical research. He remained active in Chinese martial arts associations until his death in the late 1990s.

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