The “Other” Yang Family

Long before the Yangs adopted the style  we call Tai Chi Chuan, another Yang family— much further back in history—was already famous for its Kung Fu prowess. Even the name “Yang” is a different derivation from the more common Yang of Tai Chi notoriety though nowadays they are written with the same character. Notoriously practical their weapon was the spear and even diverse styles such as Shaolin will often boast a Yang Family Spear form.

General Yang YeYang Ye started the clan’s fame during the Northern Song Dynasty. A patriotic general he met the fate of generals in the past and present who became pawns of political maneuvering. The very designation “Northern” Song puts us in the dangerous era before the Mongol pressure from the North had forced the capital southward initiating the “Southern” Song. Other greats, such as Yuen Fei himself, met similar fates. Leaving behind seven boys and two girls, Yang had  already transmitted enough skill to qualify the family as  a formidable group. Many styles in previous times were designated only by a family name and, often true to that name, never went outside the family compound.

yangjunqing1547_1590Scattered records presage the rise of the Yang family during the Qing Dynasty (an odd occurrence since it was originally fighting against foreign rule that struck down the ancestor Yang Ye). The Yang style crystallized, as did many others, during this period. Among the many prominent figures from this clan were Yang Bo, who ended up as the director of the Ministry of War. He created the 18 Methods boxing, which ironically, was used to defend the empire from those pesky Mongols. At this period his status almost equaled China’s other major guardian, the martial-general Qi JiGuang. Another family member, Yang JunQing, devised the training for the Imperial Guard. He specialize, as did his trainees, in what would now be known as the Willow Sword, a hybrid of the Straight Sword and Saber.

But top honors go to the Yang spear. Qi JiGuang wrote his famous book on Kung Fu and included the Yang version as the definitive spear practice. The Yangs themselves trained with the Da Jiang or Big Spear which, in their case, measured longer  than twelve feet with a spear point of over half a foot. Other traditional weapons include the spear-hook, the Kuan Dao, the Willow Shield and Saber (essential for fighting mounted soldiers such as the Mongols), the Monk’s Spade, the Iron Staff, the Long Handled Adze, the Trident and more. Being a military family prioritized weapons keeping them in training while many other instructors had seen the light of cannon and abandoned the so-called “cold” weapons.

YangnaiwenAt present Yang Wei, who studied under his father, Yang NaiWen,  resides in YongJi Village, ShanXi. Their recent ancestry has a number of internal practitioners such as Yang Xin, Yang WenCai and Yang Sheng all of whom have contributed to Bagua history. Yang Wei  has also added his family version of LiuHeBaFa to the list.

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Most of Yang Wei’s recorded teaching, however, is focused on the pragmatic. He has produced numerous series of Shaolin-based Eagle, China Na and Hawk combat demonstrations often broken down by attack or outcome such as throwing. He has a good eye for the practical and shows a wide range of experience in that direction.



Yang Family Eagle Boxing

Yang Family Hawk Boxing


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