Old Imperial Yang Style of Yang Jianhou?

A buddy of mine is on the quest for “old Yang” and asked me if I had ever heard of or ran across anything of this nature? I easily replied, “No”. But the researcher in me couldn’t really let this go. I at least wanted to find some examples of the style. Luckily for me, in my browsing of taiji videos on Youtube, I ran across the following video of Wei Shuren demonstrating the Yang Style of Yang Jianhou:

URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq0Uci8HvIU

Could this be the infamous secret Yang set? In viewing the clip, there seems to be quite a bit of effort placed upon intention. He just looks like he’s totally absorbed in the form.

Many students of Taijiquan practice incorrectly – first learn the routine, and only after they are skilled at it they explore the principles; what they do not understand is that through this empty practice without principles their bodies already get used to the incorrect way of practice, stiff, inflexible, with physical strength.

Once the students want to explore the principles, the way they move (with stiff and inflexible strength) already becomes habitual and the problems are very difficult to get rid of; and although they practice correctly for a long time later, Internal Strength (Nei Jin) is out of their grasp and there is no way that they can reach deep understanding of high skill levels.

— Source: China From Inside – Excerpts from the book “The True Teachings of Yang Jianhou’s Secret Yang Style Taijiquan” by Wei Shuren

What are some examples of these teachings? The article goes into quite a bit of detail regarding the reasoning for learning both principle and movement together. The article must be read to fully do it justice. However, at a high level, the excerpt outlined the ideas of:

  • Crown of the head suspended
  • Expression of the Eyes
  • Empty Armpits

These are some of the points I try to train in my own practice. Often times, I tend to look down to check out my feet. This is a No No as it can easily disrupt any sort of “intention training” that may have been happening. I was taught we must try to *feel* the correction and then replicate ourselves.

As for the eyes, I whole heartedly agree. I’ve often heard you can tell the level of a master by just looking at his eyes. Not this glazed over inwardly look, but this “eye of the tiger” stare… Not the mean eye of the tiger but imagine a tiger in the jungle. Note the intensity of the eyes, yet the relaxed demeanor of the face.

The idea of empty armpits is something I value in a taiji set. It has this element of keeping the body opened and relaxed. It reminds me of some yiquan visualizations where you imagine beach balls underneath the arms. I like this visualization.

Any additional points or comments about this style would be greatly appreciated.


About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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17 Responses to Old Imperial Yang Style of Yang Jianhou?

  1. zenmindsword says:

    nice to see my grandteacher 🙂

  2. Rick Matz says:

    A lot of standing stake exercise goes a long way towards working on core principles.

  3. wujimon says:

    Hey Rick, good point. It does quite resemble the requirements for zhanzhuang, eh 🙂

  4. zenmindsword says:

    remember the principle of seeking stillness in motion and vice versa? doesn’t this remind you of this principle? 🙂

  5. wujimon says:

    Hi ZMS:
    It does remind me. This is also the principle found within zhanzhuang practice.

  6. Rick Matz says:

    So is “Imperial Yang Style” supposed to be what Yang Lu Chan taught the Imperial bodyguards?

  7. wujimon says:

    Hi Rick.
    From my understanding, what Wei Shuren is doing is supposed to be the style that Yang Luchan practiced. I’m not entirely sure where the “Imperial” part came into play, but it was used in context with the person, so I kept it in the title.

    From my understanding, the style Yang Luchan taught the bodyguards is supposed to be the style that Wu Jianquan spread. I got this from Peter Lim’s Wu Jianquan Style Development Page.

    Perhaps ZenMindSword can chime in with some more of the history on this.

  8. silkreeling says:

    good article and great video. lots of internal and external awareness.

    no, this is not what yang jian hou taught the manchus. this is the acclaimed secret neigong set.just pure neigong.

    there are many other sets for different purposes passed down as well.

  9. zenmindsword says:

    interesting…….what does phrase “pure neigong” means?

  10. yinyang_universe says:

    Check this site out if you haven’t already.

  11. sheri punjab says:

    How do we choose which Old Yang taijiquan is the one?
    Ther are many students of Jianhou so which one to follow! just thinking aloud.

  12. wujimon says:

    The answer I would give is to follow the teachings that most closely align with your goals 🙂

  13. Pingback: MOST CLOSELY ALIGN « TaiJiQuestion

  14. ronan PELLEN says:


    I practice a style who comes from Yan Jianhou, called the secret transmission of Yang family. In chinese it is Yangjia Michuan Taiji Quan, and is supposed to be an older and hidden form of Tai taught by Jianhou to Zhang Qinlin. It is told that Jianhou did not give this style to his son Chenfu because he was not feeling well that Chenfu went to see other teachers outside the family. Only one student of Zhang Qinlin who knew this stylesurvived after the war : Wang Yen-Nien. He lived in Taiwan since may 2008 and gave the style to many students
    here you can see the second part by Serge Dreyer, a french student of Wang

    hope it is what you are searching for… but secret does not mean best, it is just a different style. Every style can be interesting, better learn 1 properly than all in a wrong way.

  15. cezarykwiatkowski says:

    on page http://www.neigong_yang.republika.pl are more information like 3 gate, 3 rings, she yi qi,

  16. cezarykwiatkowski says:

    on page http://www.neigong_yang.republika.pl there is more information on Yang Jian hou tai chi, there id also available eBook Imperial Yang

  17. James says:

    This is another, possibly rarer, Yang Jianhou style: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ID-vsBdRjAk this is only part of the set.

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