The Invincible Yang Luchan
Founder of the Yang style (1799–1872)
Yang Luchan of Guangping, is the father of modern Taiji.
As was the tradition the Taiji passed on by him was called Yang family Taiji. From this sprang Wu family Taiji and many minor styles.
As a child, Yang liked martial arts and studied Changquan. At an early age Yang Luchan studied taiji with Ch'en Chang-hsing.
Later Yang became famous for never losing a match and never seriously injuring his opponents. Having refined his martial skill to an extremely high level, Yang Luchan came to be known as Yang Wudi (楊無敵, Yang the Invincible).
In 1850, Yang was hired by the Imperial family to teach Taijiquan to them and several of their élite Manchu Imperial Guard Brigade units in Beijing's Forbidden City.
It is said that before moving to Beijing Yang Luchan's art was referred to as Mien Quan (Cotton Fist) or Hua Quan (Neutralising Fist).
While teaching at the Imperial Court Yang met many challenges, some friendly some not, but invariably his soft techniques prevailed so convincingly that he gained a great reputation. Many who frequented the imperial households would come to view his matches.
At one such gathering in which Yang won against several reputable opponents, the scholar Ong TongHe was present. Inspired by the way Yang executed his techniques Ong felt that Yang's movements were a physical expression of the philosophy of Taiji.
Ong wrote for him this verse: "Hands Holding Taiji shakes the whole world, a chest containing ultimate skill defeats a gathering of heroes." This was the birth of the art of Taiji.
Thereafter, Yang Luchan's art and the styles that sprang from his teaching and by association with him, were referred to as Taijiquan.