Here is the letter that Yang Jun wrote in response to some questions:
posted 02-07-2001 02:01 AM
Hi everyone! Let me first express my thanks to everybody for their support of the web site. Special thanks also go to Jerry and Marco for their efforts on the site. I am sorry, my English is limited so I haven't been able to respond directly to your questions on the discussion board, but now I will try to answer some of the questions that have been raised.
At the age of six, my grandfather began studying Tai Chi from his father, alongside his elder brothers, and from this early age established a firm foundation. Although he was only ten when his father passed away, under the guiding discipline of his mother (Yang Hou Zhuqing, died 1985), and along with his elder brothers, he persisted continuously in his practice. When he grew to adulthood my great grandmother handed down to him and his second elder brother (Yang Zhenji) the hand-written manuscripts of Tai Chi classics and personal notes left behind by my great grandfather Yang Chengfu, helping my grandfather to greatly improve his understanding of the art and its principles. Later, whenever my grandfather returned home to see his mother, he engaged in discussion and research and exchanged insights with his second brother (Yang Zhenji) and younger brother (Yang Zhenguo). Even my great grandmother, on observing my grandfathers Tai Chi form, said it was very like his father's. In the end, my grandfather's present attainments are the result of his seventy years of unremitting training.
As to questions regarding the relationship of Fu Zhongwen to the Yang family, Yang Jianhou's second son Zhaoyuan (Yang Chengfu's second older brother, who died when quite young) had a daughter named Yang Cong who married a man from Yong Nian named Zhao Shutang. Zhao Shutang had a son named Zhao Bin and a daughter named Zhao Guizhen. Zhao Guizhen later married a man from Yong Nian named Fu Zhongwen. When Fu Zhongwen went to Shanghai to work in a textile factory, because he was a relative, he lived for a short time in the household of my great grandfather (Yang Chengfu). During the period that Yang Chengfu was in Shanghai, Fu Zhongwen learned Tai Chi along with others who were disciples of Yang Chengfu. Fu Zhongwen, because he was a relative by marriage, called Yang Chengfu 'San Lao Ye' or 'third maternal grandfather' and always referred to my grandfather and his brothers as 'jiu jiu' or ' maternal uncle'. Fu Zhongwen's relationship to the Yang family was that of a relative rather than a disciple. Later in Shanghai Fu Zhongwen practiced diligently and worked in a very positive way to promote and spread traditional Yang style Tai Chi Chuan. He had students all over China as well as all round the world. Fu Zhongwen was a grandmaster who made huge contributions to the development of traditional Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan.
Li Tianji and Li Bingci are both good friends of my grandfather and the three went to Singapore together. Li Tianji had learned Tai Chi from his own father and Sun Lutang (originator of the Sun style). Li Bingci is a representative of Wu style Tai Chi Chuan. Neither Li Tianji nor Li Bingci ever met Yang Chengfu. The three spent four months together in Singapore (Li Tianji was only in Singapore one month) having been invitated by the Singapore Chinese Martial Arts Association. Each taught a different type of Tai Chi (Li Tianji taught 24-move simplified Tai Chi, Li Bingci taught Wu style, and my grandfather taught Yang style). In the event more people attended my grandfather's classes. That someone would guess that my grandfathers current level of attainment is because he studied from these two men and doubt that my grandfather learned from his own father from an early age for nearly five years is astonishing to me. Li Tianji has already passed away, but Li Bingci is still living in Beijing. I wish the person who wrote this would get some actual information from Li Bingci or the Singapore Chinese Martial Arts Association and only then post the results of their research on the discussion board. Since I began traveling abroad with my grandfather to teach Tai Chi in 1987, I have never heard of Michael Goon (Gu?). I would like sometime to have the good fortune to meet this person and try to clarify what that was all about. Even more, I wish that people who suggest this sort of thing apply a diligent, responsible attitude to their pronouncements, and not put out such completely unsupported fantasies.
Yang Chengfu had lots of students during his lifetime. Some of the main ones were Dong Yingjie, Chen Weiming, Niu Chunming, Cui Lizhi, Tian Zhaolin, Chen Yanlin, Zhang Qinglin, Zhang Qinlin, Li Yaxuan, Zheng Manqing. In Yang Chengfu's book "Tai Chi Chuan Applications" the other person in the photos with Yang Chengfu was Zhang Qinglin. Because the disciples of Yang Chengfu had mostly previously learned some form of external martial arts, because the amount of time they learned with Yang Chengfu differed, and furthermore each added to their art what they themselves had discovered, they all ended up doing the form somewhat differently. I think that everything is in a process of continual development. If there were no development Yang style would not have evolved from Chen style and Wu style would never have evolved from Yang style. Still the measure of the success or failure of any development depends in part on popular acceptance; no matter how much advance is made in the development of the Tai Chi form, if no one learns it, the development cannot be successful. Overall, those whose form is most similar to the form taught by Yang Chengfu are in the main Zhang Qinlin and Fu Zhongwen in Shanghai and Zhao Bin in Xi An.
As to the matter of Yang Fukui, I am just now trying to contact the descendants of Yang Zhensheng and at the same time I am also trying to get in touch with Yang Fukui himself to resolve some questions. Until we reach some conclusions, I beg your indulgence, I'm not able to answer this sort of question.
Now for my parent's generation. The Yang family hasn't produced enough offspring. If we take the Yang Chengfu branch of the family (the other branches either didn't produce any male heirs or they were scattered and we have lost contact with them), though the eldest son Yang Shouzhong had a son, during the war when Japan invaded China he was blown up by the Japanese in Guangxi province. The second son, Yang Zhenji, had no children. Although the third son Yang Zhenduo and the fourth son Yang Zhenguo both had two sons, the time when they might have studied Tai Chi happened to coincide with the famine which occurred in the 60's and the period of the Cultural Revolution, and later because of career choices available they weren't able to become professional Tai Chi teachers. So this generation, though they practiced Tai Chi, did not become teachers. When we come to the sixth generation, I am the oldest. Because of some social conditions, since I was three months old I have lived with my grandparents, which provided a rather good environment for me to learn Tai Chi. And though I know perhaps I am not really clever enough, in the movements I have tried my best to imitate my grandfather and to express the round, smooth, large and elegant qualities of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan, and as a member of the Yang family I have striven to the best of my ability to promote this marvelous art.
Tai Chi Chuan first came to public notice because of Yang Luchan and through the efforts of Yang Banhou, Yang Jianhou, and Yang Chengfu it has spread throughout China and the world, causing countless practitioners to gain physical and mental health through their training in Tai Chi. This is a contribution that the Yang family has made to the world, and because of this the Yang family has earned a measure of respect from all those who practice Tai Chi. Tai Chi Chuan is a type of Chinese martial art. Those who practice Chinese martial arts should strive after martial arts morality. Respecting our elders and being kind to those younger, humility and deference are virtues prized by the Chinese people. Recently on the website some have spoken in a way which was disrespectful. I suspect that those who spoke disrespectfully belong to a younger generation than my grandfather, and quite possibly they are two or three generations younger than him. If you speak without respect of your teacher's generation, or worse your teacher's teacher's generation, or still worse the generation prior to that, one can only wonder about the state of your martial arts morality, and whether this is because your teacher did not instruct you on this or you didn't take it to heart.
The Yang family, from Yang Luchan onward to Yang Jianhou and Yang Chengfu, have been famed for being gentle. Precisely because they approached people humbly were they able to entice so many to study. My grandfather has always tried to measure up to his father, to be humble and deferential. He has expended a lifetime of effort to spread and promote his family's art of Tai Chi Chuan. In Shanxi province alone his association has 30,000 members. Throughout China he has taught countless numbers of students. Who knows how many people have been stimulated by him to improve their health. He often says "Would that Tai Chi Chuan can contribute to the health and longevity of mankind" to encourage himself to greater efforts in this enterprise. I feel so much pride and respect to have this kind of grandfather. Practicing martial arts is a way to strengthen the body, and so I am doubly respectful of anyone who practices. Still I cannot countenance anyone's disrespect for the Yang family. In Chinese we have a saying "Beyond this mountain are (even higher) mountains, beyond this person there are (even greater) people' . I have no fear of being defeated because as a descendant of the Yang family, the spirit of the family is still there.
[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 02-14-2001).]