Yang Tai Chi: The Most Popular Style

Yang: The Most Popular Tai Chi Style. If you see someone or a group doing tai chi, odds are they’re practitioners of the Yang style. This is the most popular and widely practiced tai chi style throughout the world.

Fluid, Slow Movements. The Yang form is typically done with slow, steady movements, which help practitioners to relax and to feel the flow of energy within their bodies. The movements are large enough to foster a sense of exuberance and freedom.

Beautiful to watch, relaxing to do, the Yang style is also lyrical in its moves, which include “Fair Lady Works the Shuttles”, “Needle at Sea Bottom”, and “Grasping the Sparrows Tail”.

With its grace and emphasis on relaxation and smooth internal energetics, the Yang style attracts and retains many students each year.

Yang Style Video. Watch a demonstration of Bruce Frantzis demonstrating the Yang style here.

The Yang Style for Martial Arts. While the martial applications are embedded in the Yang form, tension isn’t generated by overtly winding up for the knockout blow. In beginning sets, there’s typically no rushing in for the strike. The blows appear more dance-like than deadly.

But, we all know appearances can be deceiving. Anyone who practices the Yang style for self-defense or as a martial art can attest to that.

The slow movements of the practice forms help beginners to the overcome tension and resistance which may normally impede their actions.

Focus on internal energetics. By focusing on the slow flow of movements, practitioners gain more awareness of their bodies. This awareness later extends to feeling the flow of internal energy—the internal power generated by a tai chi practice. Practitioners experience an increased sense of well-being and health through this type of Yang style practice.

Accessibility of Yang Tai Chi. Because of its popularity, the Yang may be the most accessible tai chi style. With large numbers of practitioners, it’s easier to find instructors, classes, books, DVDs, and other learning materials on the Yang, as opposed to other tai chi styles. Perhaps you’ll find that the closest or most convenient classes offered are in the Yang style—a practical entry point for many beginners to the benefits of tai chi.

Yang the Invincible. The Yang style has been associated with calm, aware, deliberate energy flow since its very beginning.

yang lu chan
The founder of the Yang style, Yang Lu Chan, earned the nickname ‘Yang the Invincible’ for his incredible martial arts skills. Yang not only defeated his opponents but won his battles without injuring them. While some challengers thought only about winning by hook or by crook--by killing or by maiming—Yang exercised incredible discipline in honorably dispatching his opponents.

His skill caught the attention of the emperor, and Yang was rewarded with the job as martial arts teacher to the emperor’s personal guard—an honor given only to the best martial artist in China.

In addition to his tai chi skills, Yang Lu Chan was also a highly gifted teacher. Over the years, Yang’s tai chi school produced many skilled practitioners. Students were not only from the emperor’s elite but included the not-so-elite. Yang Lu Chan was pivotal in bringing tai chi techniques and principles out of a remote village and into greater China. His students and others in his lineage have continued to make the Yang style tai chi accessible to many.

Cheng Man Ching, who studied with Lu Chan’s grandson (Yang Cheng Fu), was one of the first masters to bring tai chi to the West.

Yang: Popular Throughout the World. These amazing personalities--as well as the fairly large and easy flowing movements of the Yang forms—are largely responsible for the popularity of the Yang style today, both in China and across the world.

Next: Read about the Wu tai chi style.