Bob Ashmore wrote:T,
I am always curious about and interested in history. Why? Because we can learn a lot from the past when we know with a good degree of certainty what actually happened.
However I feel we're debating the wrong question with this entire discussion. Let me explain:
Yang Lu Chan did not learn a martial art known as "Tai Chi Chuan", he learned Chen Family martial art.
So if we're asking the question: "What is the history of the origin of Chen Family martial art?".
The answer to that question is: No one knows for sure. We can speculate all day long, however we'll never know.
Now the question of the origin of the art of Tai Chi Chuan as we know and practice it today is pretty simple to answer:
It came from Yang Lu Chan.
Speculate away on unknowable history if you so desire, however the history of the art I study is fairly well know.
What came about before that to create that art probably never will be know.
To me it seems a bit non-productive to endlessly debate something that can't be known, so I don't.
Actually it is highly possible that Yang Luchan learned only part of the Chen family martial at most likely Loajia Yilu, that is if you believe the Chen family.
And speculating on "unknowable" history (although I am not convinced it is unknowable) is or was going on at a couple universities in China a while back who were trying to figure out where Taiji came form but they were also researching that I cannot do. And I do not think I would say "it never will be known". I will say it may never be known. And I am of the belief that if you decide that it is unknowable and/or say things "Can't be known" well then learning stops, questioning stops, reasons for study stop since there is no desire to learn beyond what you have convinced yourself to be true, be it true or not. Remember, Galileo was wrong because so many knew that the earth was the center of the universe and also Alfred Wegener was wrong because so many scientists knew the earth's crust was solid, they all felt there was nothing left to be known so why bother. But I am going off the topic here, sorry about that
As for Taijiquan coming from Yang Luchan; Well the style we do today that we call Yangshi taijiquan originated with Yang Luchan but he never taught taijiquan, or at least not originally, he may have later, that I do not know for sure. The term Taijiquan comes from Wu Yuxiang who was a student of Chen Qingping and Yang Luchan and Wu Yuxiang is where Wu (Hao) style Taijiquan comes from
As for debating, whose debating, I just posted what I found out because ancient Taoists were being thrown into the mix that cannot be proven to have existed. You or anyone else wants to believe or not believe in Zhang Shenfeng that is alright by me. I will not argue for or against, heck there was a time, after I already knew what I originally posted, that doing the forms was much easier if I just went with Zhang Shenfeng started it all. Now I look at it as what I do started with Yang Luchan, got changed by Yang Chengfu and got to me by way of Tung Ying Chieh (who is my Shigong)
NOTE: as late as Chen Fake 陳發科 (1887–1957) he was quoted as saying he only knew it as Chen Family marital art. Calling it taijiquan did not matter to him.