The originator of Yang-style Tai Chi was Yang Luchan (1799-1871), who studied with Chen Changxing for 18 years. Yang was the first non-family member allowed to study with a Chen master.
Yang Luchan took his own style of Tai Chi to Beijing, where he trained many students and became very well known. In 1850, he was hired by the Imperial Family to train the palace guards. He was called Yang the Invincible because no one could defeat him in a fight (and allegedly, he never seriously injured his opponents).
Yang Luchan had three sons who also became influential Tai Chi masters. Out of the four major styles of modern Tai Chi (Chen, Yang, Sun, and Wu), three spring from the influence of Yang Luchan.
- Yang Pan Hou, also retained by the Imperial Family, trained Wu Chuan-you, who along with his son created the Wu style of Tai Chi.
- Yang Chien Hou trained his own son, Yang Chengfu, whose influence on modern Yang Tai Chi rivals that of his famous grandfather.
- Wu Yuxiang developed the Wu/Hao style which eventually became Sun style.
Yang Chengfu’s Ten Important Points (published in the 1930s) define the modern Yang style of Tai Chi, with its slow, smooth and circular movements. Yang Chengfu was the first to popularize Tai Chi, offering classes to the general public in Beijing from 1914 to 1928.