Biography of Yang Chengfu 楊澄甫

Translated by Richard Man,

Last Edit: June 6th, 2013

{original from}

Translator’s Notes: I prefer to translate as literal as possible without it becoming incomprehensible. My knowledge of the Chinese is weak, especially when it comes to names, places, titles or classical language. No doubt there are plenty of translation mistakes and English errors. Nevertheless, I hope that this helps someone.

The original was published in Simplified Chinese and was converted to Traditional Chinese using Google Translate. I hope that by leaving the original Chinese in, that better translations will be made.


  1. Beijing 北京                - capital of China
  2. Jin 勁                        - Refined, trained force. Intrinsic energy.
  3. Jin Lu 勁路                - Pathway where Jin travels. Not the same as Jing Luo or the acupuncture meridians
  4. Neigong 內功                 - Internal development
  5. Qing Ling 輕靈        - being light and agile in movements
  6. San Shou 散手        - free style fighting
  7. Tui Shou ​​推手         - Pushing Hand
  8. Zhan Zhuang 站         - Standing pole exercises

樁 Pole is used many times in this article. Often it refers to wooden staff, but 站樁 Zhang Zhuang is the standing pole exercise that develops neijin.


  1. Sun Lutang 孫祿堂.         Founder of the Sun style.
  2. Yang Luchan 楊露禪         Founder of Yang Taiji.
  3. Yang Banhou 楊班侯 Second son of Luchan.
  4. Yang Jianhou 楊健侯 Third son of Luchan, due to the hard training in his youth, he tried to run away several times. Creator of the medium frame.
  5. Yang Shoudou 楊小侯 Second son of Jianhou. Creator of the modern “small frame fast set.” Primarily learned from his uncle Banhou.
  6. Yang Chengfu 楊澄甫Third son of Jianhou. Creator of the modern “large frame.”
  7. Wu Jianquan 吳鑑泉        Founder of the Wu style Taiji. Learned from the Yang Elders and was a kung fu brother to Chengfu.

NOTE: the author was a student of student (景華 Jing Hua) of Yang Chengfu, thus he refers to Yang Chengfu as 澄甫公 “‘Grandfather’ / Revered Chengfu.” I have chosen to simply use (master) Yang Chengfu or Chengfu for the flow of the translation.


大器晚成 High Achievements Came Late in Life

澄甫公幼年隨父學拳。 健侯公性情溫和,回憶早年練功之苦,對於愛子澄甫不忍管束過嚴。

Yang Chengfu started learning martial arts from his father at an early age. Master Yang Jianhou had a gentle personality and he remembered that he suffered a lot training the family art at a young age. Since he loved Chengfu a lot, he could not bear to overly discipline Chengfu.


澄甫公每日到拳場練功,拳劍刀槍、​​推手散手,雖然均合乎楊家祖傳規矩,但並未真正痛下苦功。 1912年,澄甫29歲,在北京中山公園設立拳場,公開傳授楊式太極拳劍刀槍,只教架式,欲學大捋散手、粘劍粘桿,必需到楊府拳場,健侯公在家中親自坐鎮。 健侯公思慮周密,佈置得當,故澄甫公授拳一帆風順。

Yang Chengfu practiced martial arts everyday, including empty hand forms, weapons (jian / sword, dao / saber, spear), tui shou (pushing hand) and san shou (free style fighting). While he followed the family’s regiments, he did not work very hard. In 1912, when he was 29 years old, he started a school in Beijing Garden, teaching the Yang Family arts to the public. He taught the empty hand forms. If students wanted to learn weapons and san shou, they would visit the Yang Family school (and learned from Jianhou). With Jianhou’s careful mentoring and planning, Chengfu’s teaching career was smooth without problems.


In 1917, before Jianhou passed away, with tears coming down he admonished Chengfu: “Your brother (Yang Shaohou) learned martial arts from your uncle (Banhou). He practiced hard and had already made a name for himself. You opened a school and accepted students, but I was behind the scene helping you. Soon I will be gone, and if a high level martial artist challenges you and you lose, our family’s reputation will be on the ground. You have not worked hard, our family kung fu will be lost, and you have disrespected your ancestors. My eyes will not close when I die!” After hearing these words that cut deeply into him (痛徹心肺 “pain goes to his organs”), Chengfu cried and swore that he would practice diligently from then on.

健侯公逝世之後,澄甫公閉門謝客,日夜苦練。 此時澄甫公已34歲。 健侯公有一位家道殷實之門生,每月敬奉澄甫公束脩大洋30元,作為安家費用。 澄甫公以每月6元大洋工資,僱用一名身強力壯大漢作為“樁子”。 練拳者用木柱或石碑作為打擊目標,試驗勁力,稱為“打樁”。 例如,練大捋之靠勁,楊家老輩要練靠打木樁(九宮樁)或樹樁;練白臘桿之粘勁,亦每日在樹樁上左右反复刷勁。 然而草木無情,唯有活人方能跳躍、躲閃、反擊。 以人為目標試勁,乃打“活樁”。

After Jianhou passed away, Yang Chengfu closed the school and not accepted any visitors and started practicing days and nights. At that time, Chengfu was 34 years old. Jianhou had a well off student {ed - does anyone know who this is? } that gave Chengfu 30 yuan each month for the family budget. Chengfu spent six yuan each month to hire a strongman to be the “pole man.” In martial arts training, to test one’s skills / force (勁力), one would hit wooden poles or stone tablets. This is known as “打樁 hitting pole.” For example, if you want to practice Kou Jin (靠勁 close distance “bump” / shoulder jin - one of the eight main jin of Taiji), the Yang Elders would hit wooden poles (“9 palace pole”) or tree trunks in close range; to practice Nian Jin (粘 “sticking” jin), you would “brush” the tree pole left and right, and back and forth. However, trees and grass are not alive (“without emotion”), and would not jump, dodge, or hit back. Thus if you want to test your skills, you practice with a live “pole man.”

推手、散手之身法、步法,均合乎太極門內之規格。 其他門派武師上門比試,決不會按太極門之規格出手。 因此尚須打“活樁”,在各種不規範狀況下,以身軀之任意部位接勁,將人樁騰空放出。 楊式太極之長勁,雖然將人彈放甚遠,但人樁決無內傷之虞。 一根白臘桿、一個人樁,陪伴澄甫公閉門苦練6年,反复悟健侯公所授之內功心法,終於內勁通靈,可以隨手將人樁發放至2丈外。

The “body postures” (身法) and stepping of Taiji push hand and san shou have their rules, but if another martial artist was to come for a challenge, they would not follow the Taiji rules. The pole man let Chengfu to practice under different situations and he would hit different parts of the pole man’s body to send him flying away. Yang Taiji’s Long Jin, even though it can bounce people far away, does not cause internal injury to the person. So with one waxwood pole and one pole man, Chengfu practiced diligently behind closed doors for six years. After studying Jianhou’s neigong (內功 “internal development”) methods, Chengfu’s neijin (內勁, internal jin / energy) flowed smoothly, and could bounce the pole man 20 feet away easily.


澄甫公心中尚未踏實,因為人樁畢竟不是武師。 當時吳鑑泉先生在北京天壇授拳,門徒眾多,乃德高望重之太極名家。 澄甫公遂前往天壇找吳氏試手。 吳氏得知澄甫公來方,趕緊出茶室招呼:“三爺多時不見,有何指教?”澄甫公日:“沒事。咱倆摩摩手。”兩人一搭手,澄甫公順勢進圈,手背帖在吳氏腹部,輕輕往上提了3下,吳順勢跳了3跳,楊吳本有同門之誼,又有眾多門徒在場,故澄甫公點到為止,並未發勁。 吳氏柔化功夫極好,往年澄甫公與吳推手,總無法將吳粘住,更不能將其放出。 如今一搭手即將吳粘住,澄甫公自知功夫長進,今非昔比,遂放心開門授徒,此時澄甫公已40歲矣(1923年)。

Chengfu still had doubts since the pole man was not a martial artist. Wu Jianquan (the founder of Wu style, a kung fu brother to Yang Chengfu) was teaching in Beijing at that time and was already well known and had many students. Chengfu went to Tianting (天壇) to test his skills against Wu. When Wu saw Chengfu coming, he immediately came out the tea room calling out, “Third Uncle (Wu is being very respectful to Chengfu. Chengfu was the third son of Jianhou, hence “Third Uncle”), I have not seen you for a long time, what are you teaching me today? (again, a very respectful way of speaking)” Chengfu said, “nothing much, just want to test our hands.” The two touched hands, Chengfu moved in circularly, and put the back of his hand on Wu’s stomach. He lightly touched Wu’s stomach 3 times, and Wu jumped 3 times. Yang and Wu were like family, and seeing that Wu had his students in the hall watching, Chengfu only touched and did not Fajin. Wu was known for his Hua / Neutralizing skills. In times past, Chengfu would not be able to stick to Wu or to bounce him out. Now that Chengfu was able to touch him at the first move, he knew that his skills had improved greatly. He then felt confident to reopen his school and accepted students. At that time, Chengfu was 40 years old (1923).

北京練武行家極多,聽說楊三爺重開山門,上門討教者絡繹不絕。 澄甫公來者不拒,對方莫不隨手跌出尋丈之外,甚至有人被澄甫公騰空擊出二、三丈遠,跌至楊府門外。 路人、圍觀者嘖嘖稱奇。 於是澄甫公名聲大噪。 登門比武者只有兩人與澄甫公未分高下。 其中之一河北香河縣人張策(1859-1935),字秀林,乃通臂拳名家,人稱“臂聖”,外號“張大辮子”。 辛亥革命後,張仍保留辮,與人交手之時,他一搖頭,辮子飛到對手眼前。 對方一眨眼,即被擊出。 另一位是形意、八卦名家孫福全(1861-1932),字祿堂,河北完縣人。 孫先生瘦小輕靈,有“活猴”之美譽。 露禪公與董海川比武之後,義結金蘭。 澄甫公亦在比武之後,與張秀林、 孫祿堂結義,成為換帖兄弟。 此三人乃當時北京武術界之魁首也。

There were many martial artists in Beijing. When they heard that Third Uncle opened his door, a lot of people paid him a visit. Chengfu did not refuse any challenge. Some got dropped to the ground, and Chengfu even bounced some through the air (騰空擊出) 20, 30 feet away, outside the door of the Yang house. The passersby and the people gathering to watch these challenges were very impressed and Chengfu reputation grew by leaps and bound. There had only been two challengers who were the equals of Chengfu. One was the Tongbu master 張策(1859-1935)(Zhang Ce / Zhang Xiulin) from Hebei. His nickname is “Large Queue Zhang” because he kept his queue even after the 1911 Revolution overthrowing the Qing dynasty. When he fought, he would swing his head and the queue would fly in front of the opponent’s face. As soon as the opponent blinked, the opponent had gotten thrown out already. The other person was Sun Lutang, a master of Hsing Yi and Bagua from Hebei. He was small and nicknamed “lively Monkey.” (Sun Lutang was the founder of the Sun style Taijiquan)  Following the example of his grandfather Yang Luchan swearing brotherhood with Dong Haichuan (founder of Bagua Quan), Chengfu and Zhang Ce and Sun Lutang became sworn brothers and became the leaders of the martial arts world in Beijing.

武功蓋世 Martial Skills Without Peers

有人學了一套太極拳拳養生拳架,認為只要苦練一番,即可成為名家。 此乃誤解。 楊家有一整套嚴密訓練方法。 站樁須配合內功心法,有無極樁、虛步樁、獨立樁之分。 打樁須往有彈性之樹幹上試用按、擠、靠、肘各種勁法,並且用白臘桿往樹幹上反复刷勁。 澄甫公之樁功基礎極好,金雞獨立穩如泰山,推之不倒。 曾與眾門徒游上海法國公園(現稱復興公園),園內之法國梧桐,樹幹粗壯,時值深秋,樹葉枯黃。 澄甫公往樹幹上施用靠勁,枯葉紛紛飄落,令觀者咋舌。 澄甫公勤練活樁,身上任何部位,均可將人擊出。 景華師曾隨澄甫公出門用早茶,路上有一大漢迎 走來,與澄甫公擦身而過,澄甫公只覺得自己大腿與此人相觸,此人已騰空跌出尋丈之外。

Some people think that once they learn Taijiquan and put in the hard work, they will become skillful. This is not true. The Yang family has a complete secret set of methods. Zhan Zhuang (站樁 “Standing Pole” NOTE: Standing Pole is not wooden pole, but a standing meditative posture) must be compatible and complement the Neigong exercises, with Wuji Pole posture, Empty Step pole posture, and “Stand-Alone” pole posture. Hitting pole (this now refers to the wooden staff pole) exercises must be done with a springy / elastic energy to refine the An (push), (press), Kao (“shoulder”), Zou (“elbow”) Jin. You also need to “brush” the waxwood pole on the tree trunk repeatedly to improve the Jin. Chengfu pole fundamental were excellent, when he was in the Golden Rooster Standing on One Leg posture, he was as stable as the Tai Mountain and could not be pushed down. One day he and his students went to the Shanghai French Garden, and the garden had many French Indus trees. The trees were mature with thick trunks and old yellow leaves. To the amazement of the people watching it, Chengfu “bumped” one of the trees with Kao Jin and leaves dropped down from their branches. Since Chengfu practiced with a pole man, he could hit people with any part of his own body. Master 景華(Jing Hua) was with Chengfu one day to have breakfast tea, a big man walked toward them and brushed against Chengfu. Chengfu only felt his thigh touching the other person, and the big man was immediately bounced tens of feet away.

澄甫公推手之時,不用有形之擒拿手法,而是用意氣於無形之中,拿住對方勁路大喝一聲,將對方騰空放出,其發勁之猛,擊人之遠,無人能及。 澄甫公善用丹田內勁,發勁必定出聲,但未必用“哼哈”二字,隨口說聲“好”或“去吧”,對手即被拋出。

When Chengfu played push hand, he did not use the physical Chin Na (“seizing” techniques), but use Yi (mind) and Qi, seizing the opponent’s Jin Lu (勁路 - Jin Pathway) and he would shout loudly and sent the opponent flying. His Fajin is strong and he could send people flying further than anyone else. Chengfu also was very kind, using the Dantian neijin, he did not necessarily shout, and not use the “Heng He” two sounds, he would just say “Hao” (“very good”) or “Please go”, and threw the opponent out.

澄甫公雖然肥胖,但身法、步法變化極快。 有一次,澄甫公與陳微明師伯在樓上推手,澄甫公突然發勁,微明師伯如脫弦之箭,往窗口飛去,眾門徒大驚失色。 只見澄甫公一個箭步往前躥躍,順手拉住微明師伯足踝,大喝一聲:“回來!”師伯雙足落地,立於窗前,嚇得面如土色。 微明師伯道:“老師手太重,學生受不起,可否打輕點?”澄甫公伸出兩隻食指,粘住微明師伯腕、肘,澄甫公手指一沉,微明師伯即往後騰跳不已。 澄甫公與振銘師伯在上海八仙橋青年會表演推手,振銘師伯突發按勁,澄甫公右臂接勁,左手往右手掌心一拍,喝道:“找打!”振銘師伯即騰空飛出。 景華師與張玉站在2丈以外伸出手臂保護,振銘伯跌在景華師與張玉身上,3人一起摔倒在地毯上。

While Chengfu was fat, he could move and step quickly. One day, Chengfu and Chen Weiming Siba (kung fu uncle) were pushing hand upstair, Chengfu Fajin suddenly, Weiming shiba shot out like an arrow, flying toward the open window. The students were shocked at the development. But then Chengfu stepped forward quickly and grabbed Weiming siba’s ankle. He shouted, “Come back!” and Siba landed in front of the window with his face turned ashen. Weiming Siba said, “Lao Shi hands are heavy, student cannot handle it. Can you play lighter?” Chengfu used two index fingers and lightly touched Weiming’s wrist and elbow. He sank the fingers and Weiming Siba jumped backward. Another time, Chengfu and 振銘 Zhen Ming were pushing hand in Shanghai 八仙橋青年會(a Youth hall), Zhen Ming suddenly Fajin, Chengfu used his right arm to receive the Jin, he pressed his left palm onto his right palm, he shouted, “Hit!” and Zhen Ming flew away. Standing 20 feet away were 2 other masters Sifu 景華 Jing Hua and 張玉 Zhang Yu. They raised their arms to protect themselves, and when Zhen Ming fell on them, all three fell down on the mat.

澄甫公在杭州國術館任教務長時,一位少林拳師躲在走廊轉角後面,突然向澄甫猛撲。 時值寒冬臘月,澄甫公雙手合攏於棉袍長袖之內,手臂即在袍袖之內輕輕一迎一送,拳師跌出丈外,叩首謝罪。

When Chengfu was the counsel of the Hanzhou martial arts school, a Shaolin martial artist hid behind a corridor corner and attacked him. It’s during the winter months, Chengfu grabbed the inside of the attacker’s long sleeves, his arms tucked the sleeves lightly and then pushed out and sent the Shaolin fighter away. The Shaolin fighter immediately bowed and begged for forgiveness.

澄甫公善於用劍。 楊家所蓄之龍泉劍,往往為“半開口”,即劍刃不開口而劍尖開口,鋒利無比,可剁穿銅錢。 澄甫公劍法精妙,比試時不欲傷人,用竹劍點人手腕脈門,令對方兵刃脫手。 張秀林之刀法、槍法久享盛譽,所用槍桿粗如童臂。 一般武師抖白臘村,均為上擠下採。 張秀林雙臂抱住大桿,用腰勁左右甩打,無人敢當。 張公與澄甫公閉門切磋技藝,張公用大桿,澄甫公用竹劍。 張以中平槍法出招,有翻江倒海之勢。 澄甫公大叫一聲:“大哥站穩!”閃身進步,劍隨身到,點中張公手腕,槍桿落地。 澄甫公自謙日:“大哥年邁,身手稍緩,否則難以近身。”景華師與澄甫公對劍,手腕每每被其點中。 澄甫公教景華師劍法,將柚子(上海人俗稱“紋旦”)皮數塊,懸掛於屋樑下不同高度與角度,令景華師手執寶劍,足踏九宮步,往復穿行,目光顧及任何一塊柚皮,即刻眼到身到、身到劍到,刺穿柚皮。 練到百發百中之後,將柚皮換成桔子,最後又換成銅錢大小之金桔,如果仍能百發百中,則點人手腕脈門,好比探取物,易如反掌。 除單練之外,尚須對練黏劍、散劍,訓練過程甚長,決非一朝一夕之功。

Yang Chengfu liked to use the sword. Yang family’s 龍泉“Dragon’s Well” sword was known as “Half Sharpened,” as the blade was not sharpened and only the tip was sharp. The swords were of supreme quality and could pierce through coins. Chengfu was a master of the sword techniques. When he tested the sword, he wanted to avoid hurting people so he used a bamboo sword to “dim” (light touch) the blood vessel on the opponent’s wrist, causing the opponent to drop their weapon. 張秀林 Zhang XiuLin (along with Sun Lutang, one of the two people equal to Yang Chengfu mentioned in a previous paragraph above) had a reputation with his Dao (large saber) and spear techniques. The spear he used was as thick as a small child’s arm. When he fought with other martial artists that used waxwood poles, they would use the pole techniques of “upper press and lower pull,” but Zhang Xiulin using his large staff and his “waist power” would whip the staff left and right, the other martial artists could not withstand such attack. However, once Zhang and Chengfu tested their skills behind door, with Zhang using his large staff and Chengfu using his bamboo sword. Zhang attacked with 中平 spear technique, as if 翻江倒海 (River and Sea reverse flow - i.e. “shock and awe”). Chengfu shouted, “Elder Brother, Stand firm!” He moved in quickly, his sword followed his body and he hit Zhang’s wrist and Zhang dropped the spear. Chengfu modestly said: “Elder brother is older than I am, and the body is slower. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get so close.” When Sifu Jing Hua practiced swords with master Chengfu, Chengfu could hit his wrist without fail. When Chengfu was teaching Sifu Jing Hua sword techniques, he would hang grapefruit skin pieces from the house beams at different height and angles. He would make Jing Hua to walk the “Nine Palace Steps,” back and forth and focused on a particular piece of grapefruit skin and tried to pierce it. When Jing Hua was 100% successful, tangerine skin pieces replaced the grapefruit pieces. Finally, kumquat (being the size of the coins) replaced the tangerine pieces. When Jing Hua could pierce the kumquat without fail, then he knew that he could hit the opponent’s wrist blood vessel, as easy as picking an item from a bag, or as easy as turning the palm. Besides single practice, he also practiced “sticky” sword and “scatter” word. The practice was long and hard, and took more than a day and night to accomplish (決非一朝一夕, an expression in Chinese to indicate that it takes a long time).

楊家太極槍素負盛名。 因班侯公性躁勁猛,其母命其摘去槍頭,以免傷人,幫楊家練槍均用無槍頭之白臘桿。 班侯公上陣對敵所用之鋼槍重37斤,竟然被班侯公練大抖槍時抖斷,其太極內勁,何等渾厚驚人! 澄甫公用白臘桿,粗如灑杯,與對手練太極黏槍之時,兩杆緊帖,往復粘黏,毫無聲響,只聽得澄甫公猛喝一聲,對手即騰空跌出。 澄甫公門徒武匯川,身軀魁偉,體重200作餘斤。 景華師曾觀看澄甫公與匯川師伯練習黏槍,槍桿甫交,澄甫公出聲發勁,武師伯被騰空仍出3丈之遙,從堂屋跌出天井,將分隔堂屋與天井之柳木隔柵撞得粉碎,武師伯倒地之時,槍桿尚末脫手。

Yang Family Taiji spear had a great reputation. Since Jianhou had a temper, his mother told him to remove the spear head, as not to hurt people. Master Jianhou using this headless waxwood staff, he would go against opponent using 37 lbs steel staff and shattered the steel staff. His Taiji Neijin is supreme indeed. Master Chengfu’s waxwood pole is about the thickness of a small teacup. When he practiced sticking pole technique with another person, the poles would stick and follow each other without making any noise. When Chengfu gave a shout, the opponent would fly away and fell down. Chengfu had a student named 武匯川 Wu Huichuan. He was a large person weighs over 200 lbs. Sifu Jing Hua once saw Chengfu and Wu Huichuan practiced sticking poles. The poles touched, Chengfu shouted and Fajin and sent master Wu flying over 30 feet away. He shattered  the screen door separating the room and the patio. When Wu landed, his staff was still in his hands.

余幼時聽景華師講述澄甫公之槍技,心中竊以為凡人決無此等神力。 老教師必定有所誇大。 80年代,我於上海愛興公園結識吳鑑泉門人江長風老先生。 據江先生雲,當年曾見澄甫公與武匯川表演太極黏槍,楊公大喝一聲,將武擲出數丈之外,澄甫公仙逝之後,從末見此絕技。 吳門長於柔化,無人有此猛勁。 江老先生並非楊門弟子,對楊公決無溢美之意。 於是我深信景師當年所言不虛。 澄甫公之槍法,不僅在太極門中赫赫有名,並且受到其他門派拳師高度讚賞。 查拳名家楊洪修、馬金鏢所創之“十二路棍點子”,就吸收了澄甫公四粘槍、四散槍部分技法。

When I was young listening to Sifu Jing Hua  talking about  Chengfu’s mastery of the spear, I had thought that no one could be that strong, and Sifu must be exaggerating. However, in the 1980s, I met Wu Jianquan’s student 江長風 Jiang Chengfeng. He also witnessed Chengfu practicing with Wu Huichuan and sending Wu several tens of feet away. He said after master Chengfu passed away, he had never seen such show of mastery. Wu’s teaching emphasizes the soft neutralization skills and not Fajin. Since master Jiang was not a student of the Yang family, and had no need to flatter master Yang, I now believe that my Sifu’s words were not false. Master Chengfu’s spear were admired not only by Taiji martial artists, but also by other martial artists as well. Cha Quan’s masters 楊洪修 Yang Hongxiu、馬金鏢 Ma Jinbiao created the “12 sections staff form,” with elements from master Chengfu’s 4 “sticking” and 4 “scatter” spear techniques.


Even though Chengfu mastered Yang Family forms, sword, dao, da lu, san shou, knife, sticky sword, sticky spear and neigong exercises, but since he did not practice well when he was young, he did not inherit his father Jianhou’s slingshot secret weapon or Dim Mak (a deadly method of affecting the acupuncture points) techniques. Thus comparing to Jianhou and his uncle Banhou, he was not their equals.

武德感人 Strong Sense of Wu De (Martial Virtue)

孔子曰:“巧言令色鮮矣,剛毅木訥近仁”。 澄甫公性情憨厚,不善言辭,授拳之時,僅以身姿示範,決不多言。 澄甫公生平從不議論其他門派之長短,並且一再告誡眾弟子,不得妄議其他門派短處。 如果有人說某某人功夫不行,澄甫公曰:“練功不易,練到這般地步,也算難得了”此乃口德。

Confucius said, “巧言令色鮮矣,剛毅木訥近仁” (sorry, my Classical Chinese is really lousy). Chengfu had a gentle personality and did not dwell in negatives. When he taught, he preferred to  show and demonstrate, rather than just talking. Chengfu never talked about other martial arts strength and weakness, and impressed on his students to never talk about other martial arts weakness. If someone said so and so’s kung fu was not very good, Chengfu would say, “it’s not easy to practice martial art. To get to that level, it’s already very difficult.” This is called 德 (“De”, virtue) from the mouth.

楊家素有“出手見紅”之傳統,乃用長勁將對手彈放到一丈之外,決非用冷斷勁傷人內臟。 楊家先輩在王府授拳,王爺要學推手,露禪公必先跪下叩頭請安,申明楊家推手必定要發勁,被發之人必定跌出甚遠,但決無內傷之虞。 澄甫公內勁充沛,有時難免在無意之中傷人。 有一次,澄甫公在武漢與人比劍,用竹劍點人手腕,不料對方劍墜臂折,澄甫公懊悔不已。 因此,澄甫公經常將雙手攏於袍袖之內,輕易不肯出手。 此乃手德。

Yang Family was known for “Once the hand is shown, red will be seen” (i.e. blood will come out). But sometimes they used long jin to send opponent flying 10 feet away, and not necessarily the “cold breaking” jin that injured the internal organs. When founder Yang Luchan was teaching in the Imperial Court, when the Prince wanted to push hand, Luchan would first kneeled and kowtow to ask for forgiveness. He would say that Fajin was a part of Yang Family push hand. The opponent would get bounced and fall a distance away, but there would not be internal injury. Chengfu neijin is full and powerful, and sometimes would accidentally hurt other people. Once Chengfu was testing sword against another martial artist and used his bamboo sword to hit the opponent’s wrist. Unfortunately, the other fighter dropped his sword and cut his own arm which Chengfu regretted very much. From then on, Chengfu often put his hands inside the sleeves of the jacket, so that he would not show his hands easily. This is the De / Virtue of the hands.

澄甫公對其他門派極其尊重。 1928年,南京中央國術館館長張之江聘請澄甫公為太極門門長,並且請澄甫公帶幾位高足擔任教授之職。 澄甫公因北京拳場門徒眾多,各種事務均需妥善安排,一時未能成行。 副館長李景林見澄甫公遲遲未能到位就職,遂請孫祿堂先生為代理門長。 孫先生不知張先生曾聘請澄甫公,即將太極門改為武當門,下設形意、八卦、太極三科,由其徒眾擔任教授。

Chengfu had a lot of respect for other martial arts. In 1928, Nanjing’s National Kuoshu School’s director 張之江 Zhang Zhijiang invited Chengfu to become the head of the Taijiquan branch. He also invited Chengfu to bring some of his top students to be teachers. Since Chengfu had a lot of students in Beijing, there were a lot of details that needed to be settled before he could move. The Vice Director 李景林 Li Jianglin seeing that Chengfu not able to take his post in a timely manner, invited Sun Lutang to fill the post. Master Sun did not know that Mr. Zhang had already invited Chengfu and changed the Taijiquan section to Wudang section (Wudang is a shorthand for internal martial arts), and his students taught the 3 internal martial arts Hsing Yi, Bagua, and Taiji.

澄甫公不明情況,率眾門徒到達南京,張之江設宴為澄甫公洗塵。 酒過三巡,張之江開言道:“國術館不能有兩位武當門長。可否請楊先生與孫先生比試一番,勝者留,敗者去。”澄甫公坦然說道:“孫二哥是我義兄,應該由他當門長,不用比試。但教授職位已無空缺,眾門徒無處安插,楊某當即告辭,尚祈張館長見諒。”事後,澄甫公對眾門徒說:“我與孫二哥情同手足,閉門切磋自然可以。豈能為了蠅頭微利,當眾比拼?張先生豈有此理!”澄甫公到上海後,張之江自知理虧,遂推薦澄甫公任浙江國術館教務長。 孫祿堂先生悉此事,即推薦形意拳教授高振東為中央國術館武當門代理門長,掛冠而去,至江蘇國術館任教 ​​務長,表示與澄甫公處於平等地位。 由此可見兩位前輩之高風亮節。

Chengfu did not know about the situation. When he arrived in Nanjing with his students, Mr. Zhang took Chengfu to a restaurant. After a few rounds of drinks, Mr. Zhang said, “The School cannot have two Wudang masters. May I ask you Mr. Yang to test your skills against Mr. Sun. The winner can stay and the loser will leave.” Chengfu calmly said, “Sun is my Elder Brother. Of course he should be the director of the section, there is no need to test our skills. Unfortunately since there is no position opened for my students, I must apologize that I will be leaving with them.” Afterward, Chengfu said to his students, “Sun and I are like brothers. Testing our skills behind closed door is one thing, but how dare Mr. Zhang asks us to test openly in front of people, just for a tiny amount of money (蠅頭微利 profit the size of a fly’s head)!” After Chengfu went to Shanghai, Mr. Zhang knew that he was in the wrong and asked Chengfu to be the counsel of the school in Zhen Jiang. When Sun Lutang learned of the episode, he asked another Hsing Yi master 高振東 Guo Zhendong to take his position and resigned. Sun became the counsel of the school in 江蘇 Jiang Siu, showing that he was the same position as Chengfu (and not higher). From this, you can see that these two elders are ethical and were very respectful of others.

澄甫公到上海時,吳鑑泉已在精武體育會教拳,帶了火腿、燕窩、魚翅、名酒等禮物拜見澄甫公。 吳先生說道:“三爺您可好?我吳家父子,在楊家學拳,至今以此為生。楊家之恩,沒齒不忘。”澄甫公日:“楊吳本是一家,何分彼此?你教過的學生我決不收留,你可以放心。”後來澄甫公在滬授拳,如的吳家門徒想要改換門庭到楊家學拳,均被澄甫公婉言謝絕,並且說明,楊吳兩家拳式略有不同,拳理拳法一脈相承。 張秀林門人田作霖、孫祿堂門人陳微明拜澄甫公為師學太極拳,均為其本門師尊親自推薦,否則澄甫公決不收留。 因此,澄甫公與內外名家各派,均能團結友愛,和睦相處。 澄甫公武德崇高感人至深。

When Chengfu went to Shanghai, Wu Jianquan was already teaching in the Jing Woo school. He brought gifts of ham, bird’s nest, shark’s fin and fine wine to welcome Chengfu. Wu said, “Third Uncle, how are you? Our Wu family learned from the Yang family, and now can make a living. We can never forget the kindness from the Yang family.” Chengfu replied, “Yang and Wu are like one family. I will not take your students. You do not have to worry.” Indeed when Chengfu was teaching in Shanghai, he would refuse any students of Wu who wanted to switch school. He would explain that while Yang and Wu forms might look different, but the philosophy and the methods were from the same source. Zhang Xiulin’s student 田作霖 Tian Zhoulin and Sun Lutang’s student 陳微明 Chen Weiming were personally introduced by their respective teacher to Chengfu to be his students. Otherwise, Chengfu would not have accepted them either. Chengfu cultivated harmony among the different martial art schools, his Wu De (武德 martial virtue) was of the highest degree.

駕鶴西歸 Chengfu Passing

1936年,正當澄甫公武功登峰造極之時,竟然撒手西歸,年僅53歲。 因此引起諸多猜測,眾說紛紜。

In 1936, Chengfu passed away just when his kung fu was at the highest level. He was 53 years old. There were a lot of speculations and rumors on the cause of death.

有人認為,澄甫公發勁過猛,損耗內氣。 景華師日:“決無此理!楊家之彈簧勁,放長擊遠,極其輕鬆極其巧妙,絲毫不用蠻力。露禪公、健候公發勁剛猛,均享高壽。我已80餘歲,發人於尋丈之外,毫不費力。”

Some people thought that Chengfu Fajin too strongly and hurt his internal Qi. Sifu Jing Hua said, “That’s nonsense. Yang family’s long springy jin, even though it sends people far away, it is very soft and does not use any force. Founder Luchan and master Jianhou also Fajin strongly and lived to be old age. I am more than 80 years old myself, bouncing people several tens of feet away without using any force.”


也有人說,此乃貪戀女色之故。 景華師日:“澄甫公乃忠厚長者,身不二色 ,與候夫人夫唱婦隨,感情深厚。 澄甫公來滬之後,有富家太太、小姐學拳,澄甫公即蓄須明志,保持距離。 我在楊家為徒,時時追隨澄甫公左右,深知老師守身如玉。 萬萬不可聽信市井小人閒言碎語! ”

Other people said that Chengfu indulged in sexual matter. Sifu Jing Hua said, “Master Chengfu was an upright person and was always faithful to his wife. He and his wife loved each other very much. When master Chengfu came to Shanghai, if there were any female students, he always kept his distance. As a student in the school, I followed master everywhere and I knew that Sifu did not indulge in such things (守身如玉 “treasure the body like jade”). You must not act like the gossipy small minded person and spread rumors!”

景華師深通中西醫理,認為澄甫公不幸早逝,乃飲食不節之故。 澄甫公青壯年時抖白臘桿左右各200遍。 在樹樁上刷桿,亦須左右各200遍。 站樁要站三柱香。 練拳辛苦,食量極大,每餐需食高莊饅頭30個,豬蹄及家禽各1只。 景華師初到楊家之時,見澄甫公狼吞虎咽,好比《水滸》上之打虎將武松,大吃一驚。 日久司空見慣,不以為奇。 澄甫公成名之後,不再苦練,熱量無處消耗,而食量絲毫不減,體重增至288斤,而且喜葷厭素,膽固醇及血脂必定甚高。 澄甫公之水腫,並非腎病,乃心髒病,是長期血脂過高之惡果也。 古人云:病從口入。 此乃至理名言!

Sifu Jing Hua was knowledgeable in both Chinese and Western medicine. He thought that master Chengfu died early because of his dietary habits. When master Chengfu was young practicing, he would swing his waxwood pole left and right 200 times and then “brushing” the tree 200 times. He would do standing (站樁 Zhan Zhuang, pole standing) for the length of burning 3 incense sticks. Hard practice made him to have big appetite. Each meal included 30 bun, one pig’s leg and a chicken. When Sifu Jing Hua first went to the Yang household, he saw that master Chengfu eating a huge amount (狼吞虎咽 eating fast and furious like wolves and tigers), he thought of the legendary character in Water Margin’s “tiger-beating-hero” 武松 Wu Song and was quite aghast. After a while though, he got used to the sight and did not think of it as odd. After master Chengfu became famous, he did not practice as hard. However, he did not consume less, and his weight increased to 288 lbs. He also preferred meat over vegetables, and his cholesterol and blood fat must have been very high. His edema was not from kidney disease, but resulted from the heart disease. This was a bad result of the long term high blood fat content. The ancients said, “disease comes from the mouth.” This is indeed sage advice.

杭州九旬武林前輩陳天​​申透露:楊澄甫蕭聘三緣何早故。 “豐厚的歷史文化資源,有時不僅僅體現在看得見的地方。”上世紀80年代曾經擔任過杭州市武術協會副秘書長、如今已年過九旬的武林老前輩陳天申把思緒拉到了70多年前,回憶起當年浙江省國術館一段塵封已久的歷史。

陳天​​申 Chen Tianshen, a ninety year old elder martial artist from Hanzhou, finally disclosed why Yang Chengfu and another martial artist 蕭聘三 Xiao Pinsan died so young. He said, “Our cultural history is so rich, sometimes it is difficult to see the truth at the moment.” Chen was a vice director of the Hanzhou Wushu organization in the 1980s, and now he pulled from his memory events from more than 70 years ago (the original article was written in the 2000s).

1929年,當時西博會期間舉辦了一次規模空前的全國性武術擂台賽,楊式太極拳宗師楊澄甫、南拳名師蕭聘三等武術名家云集杭城。 為期7天的擂台賽上,有109位身懷絕技的武林高手上台,台下觀眾更是數不勝數,還有很多外國拳手,但沒有一人敢上台打擂。 西博會結束後,西博會惟一新建的展覽館——工業館的大門上亮出了“浙江省國術館”的招牌。 蘇景由、楊澄甫、劉百川、蕭聘三等,擔任起浙江省國術館的教師。 1930年,浙江省國術館招師範班學生,當年只有15歲的陳天申成為首屆學員。

In 1929, the “Western Study” group organized a national Wushu competition. Yang family founder Yang Chengfu (since Chengfu had numerous students and standardized the “large frame,” he is often also referred to as a founder) and the Southern style master 蕭聘三 Xiao Pinsan and other martial artists went to Hanzhou to compete. During 7 days of competition, 109 martial artist entered the competition stage. It was a very popular event with many audience attending. There were also western martial artists, but none dared to enter the stage. After the event, the “Western Study” group built a new school - and it proudly displayed “Zhe Jiang province National Wushu School” on its front door. Masters 蘇景由 Su Jingyou、楊澄甫 Yang Chengfu、劉百川 Liu Baichuan、蕭聘三 Xiao Pinsan were among the teachers. In 1930, the then 15 years old Chen Tianshen became the school’s first student.

1931年的一天早上8時許,蕭聘三在館內教陳天申等打黑虎拳。 練黑虎拳是要發聲、蹬腳的,功力深厚的名師每蹬一腳,水泥地上就會留下一個腳印。 “當時我們30餘位學生紛紛提議蕭老師露一手。蕭老師叫我們搬來磚塊,鋪在水泥地上,並將一塊很厚的青石板放在磚塊上。接著,蕭老師在青石板上打起了黑虎拳。只見他大喊幾聲,腳下一用力,下面​​的青石板和磚塊都成了碎片……”陳天申說。

One day in 1931, around 8 O’Clock in the morning, Xiao Pinsan was teaching Chen Tianshen the “Black Tiger Fist” at the school. When practicing the Black Tiger Fist, one shouts and stomps the feet. When a high level practitioner stomps their foot at the mud, they would leave a footprint there. Chen Tianshen said, “There were about 30 students at that time, and we asked Sifu Xiao to demonstrate. Sifu Xiao asked us to put some bricks on the mud, and then put a heavy stone slab on top. Sifu Xiao then performed the Black Tiger Fist form on top of the slab. He shouted a few times, then stomped his foot, and both the slab and the bricks underneath were shattered.”

如此深厚的功力自然引得學生們大聲叫好。 不想,叫好聲卻驚動了還在睡覺的楊澄甫。 楊澄甫當時是國術館的教務長,有較晚起床的習慣。 他披衣出門大聲責問:“什麼事,這麼吵?”蕭聘三回答說:“是我在教學生練習黑虎拳。”楊澄甫說:“這種東西有什麼用!”這句話惹惱了蕭聘三,他當即提出要與楊比武。 楊澄甫說:“好,你就在我的肚皮上打三拳吧。”

Having seen such demonstration of high level kung fu, the students cheered loudly. Unfortunately, the noise woke up Yang Chengfu who was asleep at that time. Yang Chengfu was the director then and he had a habit of waking up late. He put his coat on and came out, asking “What is going on? Why is there such noise?” Xiao Pinsan replied, “I am teaching the students Black Tiger Fist.” Yang Chengfu said, “that skill is useless!” This angered Xiao Pinsan a great deal and he challenged Yang for a match. Yang Chengfu said, “Fine, you hit my stomach 3 times first.”

蕭聘三一拳打在楊澄甫的肚皮上。 陳天申等人便見到楊澄甫臉上露出痛苦神情。 陳天申接著說:“蕭聘三打第二拳後,我們似乎都聞到了楊澄甫嘴裡的血腥味。蕭聘三打出第三拳後,楊澄甫右手緊捂肚皮,左手一掌飛出,擊在蕭聘三的心窩處。蕭聘三頓時倒在2米開外,口吐鮮血。” 楊蕭之爭的結果是兩敗俱傷,他們不僅不再教武術了,1933年,蕭聘三離開人世,楊澄甫也在1936年病逝。

Xiao Pinsan hit Yang Chengfu at the stomach. Chen Tianshen and other students saw that Yang Chengfu’s face contorted in pain. Chen Tianshen continued, “When Xiao Pinsan hit the second time, we all could smell blood coming from Yang Chengfu’s mouth. When Xiao hit the third time, Yang Chengfu held his stomach tightly with his right hand, and the left hand shot out and hit Xiao at the chest. Xiao flew back and fell down 2 meters away, spitting blood.” This match ended with both parties injured. Not only did they not teach together any more, Xiao Pinsan died in 1933, and Yang Chengfu also passed away in 1936 from disease.

兩位武藝高超的名師,就是為了這樣一樁小事過早去世。 楊蕭之爭發生後,時任浙江省國術館副館長的蘇景要求學生對外保密此事。 就這樣,一樁70年前的歷史憾事一直塵封至今。 陳天申說:“70多年過去了,當年國術館的教師都已告別人世。當時38名學生中,我是最小的'小鬼'。今天,我這個'小鬼'也已經九十多歲了。這麼多年來,這件事一直在我腦海中揮之不去。它給我們的教訓實在是太深刻了!”

Thus because of a small matter, two high level martial artists died early. Afterward, the Vice Director 蘇景 Su Jing asked the students to keep the event secret. This secret was kept for more than 70 years. Chen Tianshen continued, “It happened more than 70 years ago. All the teachers at that time have died. There were 38 students then, and I was the smallest ‘Little Ghost.’ Now even this ‘Little Ghost’ is over 90 years old. This event has been in my mind all these times. We can all take lessons from what happened!”

人生履歷 History and Lesson

本人簡述澄甫公事蹟,可作為研究楊家太極拳之補充資料,亦可啟發吾輩後學,深刻反省。 澄甫公乃露禪公嫡孫,自幼練功,至40歲方始出神入化,階及神明。 澄甫公身為第3代傳人,對於楊家功夫,倘且未能全部傳承。 如今只要祖輩、父輩曾在楊家學拳,或者與楊家稍微沾親帶故,即自稱楊家某代傳人,將自己功夫吹至天高。 澄甫公武功蓋世,口德與手德並重,時時處處,謹守勿失,乃武德高尚之榜樣也。 倘若功夫尚未登堂人室,便口出狂言,目中無人,豈不愧對澄甫宗師? 在下不才,願每日三省吾身,與海內外拳友共勉。

I wrote this brief biography of master Yang Chengfu to provide researchers who want to study Yang Family Taijiquan with some supplementary information, and also to inspire later students with something to think about. Chengfu is Founder Luchan’s grandson. He started practicing when he was young, and gained supremacy (出神入化,階及神明) when he was 40 years old. Master Chengfu is the third generation standard bearer. Even he did not inherit all the Yang Family kung fu. Nowadays any older generations who learned from the Yang Family, or even just a little relation with the Yang Family, sometimes they self-proclaim as the Yang Family standard bearer, and boast how strong their kung fu is. Master Yang Chengfu words and deeds show that he is virtuous and is a model of Wu De (martial virtue). If a person’s kung fu is not at a high level (登堂人室, “enter the house”), but acts and talks abusively and looks down on other people, then aren’t they showing great disrespect toward founder Chengfu? I am humbly share this information with everyone.