Yeung Sau Chung (1909-1985), also known as Yang Zhenming, was the oldest son of the famous Yang Cheng Fu and
a Tai Chi Chuan tutor for his three younger brothers who are living in mainland
Sau Chung started his Tai Chi Chuan training at the age of eight. When he was
14 years old, he learned the complete Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan system and
qualified as his father's assistant.
When he was 19 years old, he was hired by many organizations as their private
Tai Chi Chuan instructor. Later, he accompanied his father to teach Tai Chi
Chuan throughout China.
In 1949, he left the mainland China for Hong Kong. He believed in quality and
personal instruction. Therefore, all of his Tai Chi Chuan instruction was
conducted one on one with each student in the privacy of his residence on
Lockhard Road until his death in May 1985.
Although Yeung spent all of his life to achieve the highest standard in his
family art of Tai Chi Chuan, he was hardly known by Westerners.
With an increasing demand from our organization members for an authentic Yang
Style Tai Chi Chuan book, my father Gin Soon Chu asked Yeung to publish the
"Practical Use of Tai Chi Chuan: Its Applications and Variations" in English in
1977 and my father was the publisher. This same book translated to German by
Stephan Hagen in 1996.
In 1984, I was fortunate to obtained Grandmaster Yeung's personal
instructions and insights on the art of the Yang Style. On this sixth
anniversary of his passing, I would like to share some of his teachings.
Grandmaster Yeung said that there are many different ways to practice the
Yang Style solo form. It is different according to the student's objectives,
levels and discipline.
What is important for a Yang Style Practitioner is to acknowledge and
understand this so that this information will be available later. He said that
there are three levels of stances (for the legs) and frames (movements of the
hands and body) for each posture.
As a beginner, if a student is in a reasonable physical condition, he should
begin with a high stance and a medium frame posture. If an older student
begins, a higher stance can be combined with a large frame posture. This is
generally recommended because the large frame provides more movement with the body
and hands which is better for the blood circulation.
Also, a higher stance does not demand a lot of work from the legs. These are
the best ways for most novices to get into Tai Chi Chuan training.
A serious practitioner should work with either a medium or low stance in
combination with the three frames to achieve maximum practice. The difficulty of
the low stance pushes one to achieve the highest skills in Tai Chi Chuan
training as a martial art system.
In self defense applications, a high stance combined with the small frames is
best because a high stance gives better mobility and a small frame moves in a
straight line rather than a circular line to execute a movement to defend
Although his father, Yang Cheng Fu, was famous with the high and large
posture, from the explanation given by Yeung Sau Chung, one can see why he
taught his family style individually, according to the student.
Grandmaster Yeung said that the advanced Knowledge in Tai Chi Chuan integrates
the philosophy of Yin and Yang in practice. As we see from the Tai Chi Chuan
diagram, Tai Chi Chuan is but the unification of Yin and Yang. This is what the
Tai Chi Chuan classic called, "Tai Chi was born from Wu Chi and the mother of
Yin and Yang."
Therefore, in order to be able to advance in Tai Chi Chuan training, one must
understand the philosophy of Yin and Yang and all the postures much posses this
concept at all times. This is why the classic said that only if the practitioner
truly understands the interaction of Yin and Yang can he be considered to
understand the power.
The following is a list of four interpretations of Yin and Yang and one
should consciously keep them in mind to integrate them into Tai Chi Chuan
- Yin and Yang Opposition
In this interpretation,
everything exists in two components and they are opposite and complementary from
each other as in Yin and Yang. They do not exist equally with each other in one
unit. Rather, they they are constantly struggling to overtake each other in the
same unit. It is this constant struggle that puts everything in motion for the
- Yin and Yang Complementary
In this interpretation, the two components coexist together in one unit and they depend on each other to
survive. It cannot survive by itself. e.g. left and right. If there is no
right, then there is no left. Therefore, the Yang component relies on the Yin
component to survive and the Yin component relies on the Yang component to
survive. Each component needs its opposite to exist. If this Yin and Yang
harmony is disrupted the Yang component by itself will not survive and the Yin
component by itself will also not survive.
- Yin and Yang Balance
In this interpretation, the Yin and Yang are not equally divided.
Each is constantly struggling to overtake the other. Sometime there is more Yang
than Yin component and others times, there is more Yin than Yang component in a
constant state of struggle and yet they are able to live together.
An example can be shown with the four seasons. In the summer, there is more
Yang than Yin component and in the Winter, there is more Yin than Yang
component. At the end of the year, the Yin component and the Yang component
remain equal to each other. Although the Yin and Yang are complementary to each
other, one should not neglect the importance and significance of balance.
Everything must exist in a balanced state in order to grow and prosper.
- Yin and Yang Interaction
In this interpretation, Yin and Yang always struggle and have a tendency to overtake each other and grow in opposition.
Therefore, at certain times, Yin becomes Yang and Yang becomes Yin in a constant
interchangeable state as they evolve and reproduce. This interaction begins when
Yin and Yang reach their maturity.
Grandmaster Yeung said that when a practitioner truly understands the Yin and
Yang and incorporates its philosophy into their practice, the advancement of Tai
Chi Chuan training should be very quick.
Let's take the concept of hard and soft and see how it is incorporated into
practice. The philosophy says that one component can not survive by itself.
Therefore, soft must coexist with hard together as in one concept and practice,
How do you incorporate this into practice? Grandmaster Yeung said that the
first thing one needs to know is to simplify the concept into its
sub-components: roundness and squareness. In order to know the concept of
roundness, one must know the concept of flow and its characteristic. In order
to understand the concept of squareness, one must know the five bows (two bows on
the hands, two on the feet and one with the whole body). One must also knows the
concept of contraction and extension or the open and close motion and its
He also said that at the beginning, a student learns to be relaxed and soft
to remove all the brute strength. Relaxation begins with the major joints such
as the shoulders, wrists, waist, hip and the whole body. Regional relaxation such
as only the hands or the body is not enough. Relaxation must involve the whole
body. This relaxation will benefit people with good health by circulating the
chi throughout the body without any inhibition. At this time the solo form
should flow freely. This is the process of practicing roundness.
If one is interested in continuing on to a higher level of Tai Chi Chuan
training, one should practice the procedure of squareness. The squareness is
composed of the open and closed motions, which provide one with a sense of
knowing at which moment the power should yield or should issue. Therefore,
squareness is the practice of projecting energy outside the body.
The round procedure is for circulating or yielding energy. The square
procedure is for issuing of energy. If the solo form is primarily composed of
roundness, it is said that the solo form is too soft.
If the solo form is primary composed of squareness, it is said that the solo
form is too hard. The perfect solo form is said to have 50% of each.
After one has incorporated roundness and squareness into Tai Chi Chuan
training and mastered the concept of hard and soft, one can execute the softness
of the body smoothly like a snake's movement or execute the hardness of the body
like iron. The utilization of the hard or soft technique depends on the
Grandmaster Yeung said that criteria to determine good posture begins with
some of the principles such as whether a posture is centered, balanced,
tranquil, comfortable, round and full, etc.
When a student correctly executes these concepts, he should be strong and
stable like a mountain. Grandmaster Yeung said that whether a student truly
understands the varied concepts of Tai Chi Chuan training is determined by how
he incorporates the concepts into his training. Just speaking of the concepts'
literary meaning is not enough.
Although Grandmaster Yeung Sau Chung has been dead for six years, he will
never be forgotten.
Article by Vincent Chu