The Tai Chi form of Yang Shau-Hou


Yang Shou-Hou

Below is a video, shot in 1977, of the Tai Chi form of Xiong Yangho who was a student of Yang Shau-Hou, the (much) older brother of Yang Cheng Fu. Born in 1862 he was effectively of a different generation than his brother Yang Cheng-Fu who was born in 1883, which is 21 years later.

You can see that the form follows the same pattern as the Yang Cheng-Fu version but has a few unique characteristics. Again, this hints that there were different ways of doing the form before Yang Cheng-Fu standardised it into “Yang style”.

These different interpretations are a bit like the Gnostic Christian gospels – they’ve been rejected from the main orthodox canon, but they have just as much validity as any ‘official’ version of the form.

The description reads:

“Taiji Grand Master Xiong Yang He (1889-1981) The Interpretation of Taiji Quan The Teaching Frame of Hundred & Eleven Styles in Taiji Quan Video & voice edited by Li Ri Xing 28th September 1977”



What’s particularly interesting is the second video, at 7.51 onwards, after the form has finished, he does what looks like a couple of silk reeling exercises in which he traces a Yin Yang symbol in a manner described in Shen Jiazhen’s book.



In the video Xiong Yangho then does some fast moves that look a lot like Southern Kung Fu – Pake Mei or Wing Chun, that sort of thing:

Edit: A comment on this post from Bai Yiming reveals that these are from another martial art called “Xiyangzhang”

“What Xiong Yanghe shows in the later vids has nothing to do with TJQ; those “5 little hands”, as they are called, originate form Xiyangzhang, another style. Xiong has cross-trained a lot and taught a huge curriculum. There is no Taiji symbol traced, it is purely an application. I know as I’m training in the Xiongmen, the Xiong system, do the Xiyangzhang and also those hand moves!”

Here’s a video of Xinog Yanghe doing some more Xiyangzhang:


Here’s another video of Xiong Yangho doing Tai Chi:


Originally from the mainland, Xiong Yangho was a military man who escaped to Taiwan with the nationalists once the Communists took over in China. There’s a short biography of him here.


9 thoughts on “The Tai Chi form of Yang Shau-Hou

  1. There is a lot of misinformation about the status of YLC being a servant. Chen Xiaowang whom I was a private student of when he was resident in Sydney told the story that YLC was an employee in a Chinese herbal medicine shop in a village away from the Chen village. So he was not illiterate nor was he unexceptional. Hd was skilled in various martial arts and wanted to learn Che
    n Tai Chi and got himself transferred to the shop in the Chen Village so he hope to learn Chen Tao Chi. The rest is history.


  2. Graham, even in the Chen Village of today many diverse people study the Chen-style Taijiquan, although bear in mind that there is something of a distinction about the Chen Family Taijiquan. Within the village today (and presumably in the past) there is always a certain amount of jockeying and only revealing certain “family secrets” within the family. I know of some humorous anecdotes about hiding training data from others in Chen Village and the rancor that it causes. Like any other small village, there are lots of interplays that aren’t obvious on the surface.

    In the case of Yang Lu Chan, one of the real problems was that Chen Changxing taught his classes at a room/kwoon within the residence of Chen De Hu. But that’s where Yang Lu Chan was a servant, so you can see the complexities and possibilities.

    Here’s the comment from the oral history of Chen Village: “He (Chen Changxing) had a daoguan (dojo) at the home of Chen Dehu. Besides his son, Chen Gengyun, his disciples of note were Chen Huamei, Chen Huaiyuan, and Yang Fukui (Yang Luchan).”


  3. Mike – the fact a servant was taught the art is perhaps the most curious thing about the whole story. Why was he treated as an equal? It makes no sense. But then, if you think about where else the same situation can occur… where else are slaves and citizens treated the same? I can only think of one thing – in secret societies. For example, in Rome salves and citizens were treated equally in the various mystery religions. Secret societies and “religions with secrets” were very common in China as well. One possibility is that both CXW and YLC were part of the same religious tradition. Pure speculation of course, but it also gives another reason for why Taoism keeps cropping up in the story. But like I said, just speculation.


  4. I think Mr. Alleyne needs to read a bit more history. Yang Lu Chan went back to Chenjiagou either 2 or 3 times to get corrections from Chen ChangXing … it’s in the books, even the Yang-style books. The interesting part to me is that when Chen De Hu set YLC free from being an indentured servant and Chen Changxing gave Yang permission to teach in order to make a living, they were being very kind to YLC. To hear the followers of the Yangs, you’d think the Chens were some evil enemy. 😉 The Yang family proper has no problem with acknowledging that Yang Lu Chan studied the Chen-style under Chen ChangXing, so Mr. Alleyne might get in touch with them and give them some corrections on the history.

    Zhao Bao Village is a puzzle. The Zhao Bao art comes from Chen Qing Ping teaching the Chen Small-Frame in the Village (he “married into” Zhao Bao; took a wife from Zhao Bao village), but they want to pretend that even though they obviously only learned the Small Frame (you can easily see it), that theirs is the older and more original art. Yes, well …. no one else believes that and most people are too gracious to even mention Zhao Bao when it comes to serious history.

    All of these histories where just recently put to rest after the various claims had been looked at, BTW. Taijiquan is officially considered to have come from the Chen Village art.

    It is rather intriguing to think about the illiterate, indentured servant of Chen De Hu devising or learning some secret art, better than the Chen-style. They must have given servants a lot of time off, in those days.


  5. What Xiong Yanghe shows in the later vids has nothing to do with TJQ; those “5 little hands”, as they are called, originate form Xiyangzhang, another style. Xiong has cross-trained a lot and taught a huge curriculum. There is no Taiji symbol traced, it is purely an application. I know as I’m training in the Xiongmen, the Xiong system, do the Xiyangzhang and also those hand moves!


  6. It appears that everything is interpretation, whereby the external skill is obvious based on fitness level, ability and subjective understanding while the ‘internal’, as invisible as it is,is more difficult to manifest. Even within a single style, there are many outward versions despite the teacher source being the same so it makes sense that in other style, the same exists.
    As to whether Yang Luchan was told to show a watered down version of Chen family art (Chenjiagou), his watered down version sure whopped arse that when Chen style arrived in Beijing, it was thought of as being a copy!. We know the history that even in nearby Zhaobao village, Chen art is seen as a usurper to the tradition though they share common ancestors.
    If we accept the ‘watered down version” of chen family art by Yang Luchan then Yang Luchan simplified the obfuscation of the art he learned and excelled at!


  7. Chen Xiaowang has a number of people who are his direct students or even ‘disciples’ …. none of them comes anywhere close to being able to what he does, even though he has a few good external mimickers. If you try to analyze Chen Xiaowang’s Taiji by what those students do, you’ll simply miss the mark. The same thing is true of these “students of Yang Lu Chan” or “students of Yang Shao Hou”, and so on. You simple don’t know if they could adequately represent what the original person could do and it’s been shown over time that usually they only have a mimicry of the original … and usually not a very good mimicry, at that.

    To me, the main point about the Yang style is that it’s based on the old Chen-style. Yang Lu Chan learned the Chen-style and he was given permission to teach a watered-down version of the Chen-style. My thought has always been that if I want to understand the “secrets” of Taijiquan, why would I go to anything other than the original source material?

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