A Short History By Grandmaster Henry Look
(used by permission)
Ping Yang Style Taijiquan was originated by the great Taiji Master Yang
Lu-Chan and his second son, Yang Ban-Hou (1st and 2nd Generations). It is a precious, older form of Yang Style Taijiquan as it was practiced before the Yangs were "drafted" as instructors for the Manchu Imperial Court. From Yang Ban-Hou this lineage was passed down to only three disciples.
One of the three was Wang Jiao-Yu (3rd Generation). Wang in turn passed
this style down to only four disciples. One of the four was Kuo Lien
Ying, another was Wang Zi-Chen (both 4th Generation). It was Kuo Lien Ying who brought this style to the United States in
1965. All the students who studied directly from Kuo are considered 5th
As a young boy, Yang Ban Hou was exceptionally talented in martial arts with
outstanding natural athletic abilities. However, he hated the tough
training that was forced upon him by his proud father, Yang Lu-Chan,
and would often run away from home. Each time his father would find him
and drag him back home.
Ban-Hou hated his daily training, his natural abilities helped him, and
his martial arts improved very rapidly. In a few short years when he
became a grown man, his martial
arts abilities were unequaled. His formidable skills were superior even to his own
father's. Thus, he became famous and was known throughout the Country.
the 17th Century the Manchu from the north invaded China and established the Qing Dynasty. The
newly established Emperor put out a command to find the best martial artist to teach his
Royal Family and his Imperial Guards. Yang Lu-Chan and Yang Ban-Hou were considered the
best at that time and ordered by the Emperor to serve as Royal
Coach in the martial arts for the Imperial Court. Ban-Hou and his father did not like
the Manchu, but knew that any refusal to the Emperor's command would
mean death (He and his family would all be beheaded).
did not wish to teach the true secrets of Guang Ping forms to the
Manchu invaders, so he deliberately altered the movements into softer
forms that later known as Beijing Style. The nightly Taiji sessions for
the Royal Family were conducted behind high brick garden walls and
closed high wooden gates.
day, Ban-Hou, on his way to the Imperial Court walking past the Royal
Horse Stable, observed a young stable boy practicing the same Taiji
forms he was teaching nightly in the Royal Garden. He confronted the
boy asking how he could know this style of Taiji so well. The stable
boy, named Wang Jiao-Yu, confessed that he had learned the forms by
spying on his teaching nightly.
learned the boy was Chinese (Han), not a Manchu, and that they both came fro
the same same city of Guang Ping. He asked the boy if he was serious
about learning Kung-Fu from him. The boy immediately said yes and
dropped to his knees to pay respect and appreciation by bowing to
Ban-Hou one hundred times and with each bow hitting his forehead
against the hard stone pavement.
When Wang finished bowing, his forehead red and bruised, Ban-Hou said to him, "If you really want to learn real Kung-Fu from me, you have to benddown to touch your chin to toe within100
days." Wang Jiao-Yu practiced very hard daily and succeeded in touching
his chin to toe way before the 100 days had passed and thereby became
one of only three disciples accepted by Yang Ban-Hou. All were sworn to secrecy, promising not to reveal the true nature of what they were taught while the Manchu continued to rule. For if it were known that what Ban-Hou had been teaching at court was not the true art of the Yangs that too would have meant death to Ban-Hou and his kin.
-50 years later - Tales of Wang Jiao-Yu
him! After him!" The town sheriff shouted commands to his group of nine
deputized pursuers. "Don't let him get away! Chi-Li was known as the
most elusive and clever burglar in the Shantung area. He possessed
great talent and was trained to a very high level of skill in Chinese Martial
Arts. He could easily leap across a canal over twenty feet wide, or just
as easily jump up eight feet to roof tops to escape capture. On many
moonlit nights villagers would watch in awe as this agile thief, his dark
silhouette accentuated by the giant moon shining high above, skipped from roof top to roof top with a bag of loot tied around
this particular night, the sheriff and his deputies chased Chi-Li into a dead-end
alley which lead to an ancient temple. When the pursuers rounded the
corner into the alley leading to the temple they saw Chi-Li lying on the ground, knocked out cold, with no sign of movement. The
sheriff and his men were amazed and puzzled as to what had happened to
leave this seemingly lifeless figure lying before them. As they looked
about for some explanation to this puzzlement, they saw an
old man sitting on the granite steps leading to the main entrance of
the old temple.
old man was known to the town's people as "The old man selling tea at
the old temple." He dressed in dark blue cotton clothing. He wore
loosely fitted trousers with the pant legs tied firmly around his
ankles. He wore brown socks with black slippers. His loosely fitted
jacket had a straight row of cloth loops around cloth buttons (what the
modern age calls "Frog Buttons") up to his neck. He demeanor was calm
as he sat cross-legged with palms resting gently on top of his knees.
He sat behind a dilapidated make-shift wooden stand, very much worn by
the weather. On top of the stand were many
varieties of dried tea leaves in dark and light-colored bamboo woven
baskets which filled the summer breeze with a variety of fragrant
the sheriff questioned the old man, his eyes were slightly closed and
his head with short cropped hair rested in a relaxed erect posture. He
calmly denied having any knowledge of what had happened to the burglar,
the sheriff and his men paraded through town proudly with Chi-Li in tow
and bound by ropes, words were buzzing through the town that "The old
man selling tea at the old temple" possessed great skill in Kung-Fu.
From that day on the townspeople, young and old, went to the temple
grounds daily hoping to get a glimpse of the old man practicing
kung-fu. Some begged and begged to become his disciple and learn from
him. However, the old man always denied that he knew anything about
martial arts, but was just an ordinary person selling tea to support
the days and weeks passed people who had waited from morning to night
hoping to see kung-fu gave up and slowly disappeared from the temple
grounds. Eventually, everyone had given up, except for one persistent
young man. This young man changed his sleeping habit to during the day
so that he could observe the old man at night. Night after night, he
would go to the temple after dark and wait until dawn before going home
three fruitless nights, half an hour after hearing the town's time
keeper bong! bong! bong! bong! the sound of four beats (representing 4
am), which came from a stick banging against a hollowed piece of
bamboo, as he was about to doze off, all of a sudden a dark figure
appeared amongst a group of young trees waving his arms and hands in
total coordination of his body and legs, like a slow dance. Whenever he
would push forward with his palms, the nearby tree branches would bend
with leaves rustling as though they were being blown by a strong wind.
The dark figure moved slowly and smoothly like gentle clouds floating
in the sky. With each step, going to and fro, his feet were placed on
the ground very gently and precisely. Yet, even with each movement
being performed very slowly, he could see and feel the great power
the news of the "Tea Seller" having such great Kung Fu abilities got
out, everyone who could walk wanted to study with him. Finally the "Tea
Seller", Wang Jiao-Yu. accepted four disciples. One of the four was Kuo
Lien Ying, who in 1965 brought the unique style of Guang Ping Yang Tai
Chi to San Francisco's Chinatown.