Home Our School Lineage Curriculum Classes Contact

Our Lineage

Our school is proud to have a distinguished Tai Chi lineage - knowledge has been handed down to us via a chain of accomplished masters dating back centuries.

We do not profess to be the equal of our past masters, but we will preserve and pass on their knowledge and methods of training to the best of our ability while we continue to practice and learn, just as they did before us.

John Kin Wa Yuen

  • 1944 -
  • Blackburn Tai Chi Academy, Melbourne

John Yuen was introduced to Tai Chi Chuan by fellow Hong Kong expat Rocky Kwong in 1978. After four years of training wherever they could find the space, John found a place to start a school and together they launched the Blackburn Tai Chi Academy in 1982. At this time John was to meet Rocky's old teacher from Hong Kong, Master Cheng Tin Hung, and was greatly impressed by him. Master Cheng was quite famous and known for running one of the best and toughest martial arts schools in Hong Kong. After pursuing further training with him, John had the honor of being accepted as one of Cheng's 'inside the door' disciples. Over the next sixteen years John routinely travelled to Hong Kong for training, and achieved Instructor certificates in all disciplines - Tai Chi Forms, Weapons, Push Hands, Self Defence and Nei Kung. A big influence in his training at this time was Ng Kam-Kee, one of Cheng's most senior disciples, with whom John formed a life long friendship.

Ken Yue 'Rocky' Kwong

Rocky trained with Master Cheng Ting-Hung in the 1950's, and was the first of his students to bring the art to Australia. Rocky was known for his formidable skill in san sau (boxing), and now in his 80's, is still teaching in Perth, WA. Read more about Rocky here.

image credit: bendigotaichi.org

Ng Kam-Kee

Master Ng Kam-Kee was an 'older tai chi brother' meaning he was the more senior and experienced amongst the inner circle of disciples of Cheng Tin-Hung.

Cheng Tin-Hung (鄭天熊)

  • 1930 - 2005
  • Hong Kong Tai Chi Institute

Cheng Tin-Hung (Zheng Tian-Xiong) was taught from a young age by his uncle Cheng Wing-Kwong. He became interested in competitive boxing, so his uncle introduced him to a Tai Chi colleague Qi Min-Xuan, who trained him in full contact fighting. Cheng Tin-Hung went on to represent Hong Kong in the 1957 SE Asia games where he defeated the reigning Taiwanese champion. This brought fame and recognition for Cheng, and success to his school where he trained many young fighters to similar victories. He earned the nickname the "Tai Chi Bodyguard" for his steadfast defence of Tai Chi and the people who practiced it. He was also well read in the classics and well respected by his community. Invited by the government to help promote Tai Chi, he developed public 'Tai Chi in the park' teaching programs (now a common sight). He also unified other schools behind this cause, establishing the Hong Kong Tai Chi Association in 1972.

Chai Man-Hun (Qi Min-Xuan)

Qi Min-Xuan was a Wu style Tai Chi practioner of the same generation as Cheng Wing Kwong, but through different masters. Not much is known about him. He is variously described as a wandering taoist monk, or an itinerant selling martial arts lessons for food and board. Both may well be true, oral history suggests that he was in fact fleeing persecution in China (both religion and martial arts were targets of the Communist Party), escaping from Henan province to the British Protectorate of Hong Kong. It seems likely that he would have known Wing-Kwong through Tai Chi connections and sought his assistance, or was offered help by him.

We also believe the fast boxing techniques that we practice have come from Qi Min-Xuan. Especially as Wing-Kwong claimed he was not as good at "the fighting side of Tai Chi" as Qi Min-Xuan, and therefore asked him to give his nephew additional instruction.

Ken Yue 'Rocky' Kwong

Rocky trained with Sifu Cheng Ting-Hung in the 1950's, and was the first of his students to bring the art to Australia. Rocky was known for his formidable skill in san sau (boxing), and now in his 80's, is still teaching in Perth, WA. Read more about Rocky here.

img credit: bendigotaichi.org

Cheng Wing-Kwong (鄭榮光)

  • 1903 - 1967
  • Wing-Kwong Gymnasium

Cheng Wing-Kwong (Zheng Rong-Guang) was first introduced to Tai Chi by a nephew of Wu Chien-Chuan, the founder of Wu style Tai Chi. When Wu himself moved to Hong Kong in 1937, he accepted Cheng Wing-Kwong as one of his disciples. Cheng was a diligent student and ranked amongst the top disciples of his Master. Locally, he was nicknamed the “Cantonese Master of Tai Chi”. In 1952 he established the Wing-Kwong Gymnasium, a tai chi school in Hong Kong. Ten years later he left the school to his son and moved to Malaysia and Singapore where he taught until his death in 1967. In Hong Kong school, his family still operates the Wing Kwong Tai Chi Academy.

Wu Chien-Chuan (吳鑑泉)

  • 1870 - 1942
  • Chien Chuan Tai Chi Chuan Association
  • Founder of Wu style Tai Chi

Wu Chien-Chuan (Wu Jian-Quan) was a cavalry officer in the Imperial guard at the time of the last emperor, a tumultuous period with China besieged by foreign powers. In 1914, Wu Chien-Chuan and his colleagues saw an opportunity to promote the health and martial benefits of Tai Chi training on a national scale. Prior to this Tai Chi was a strictly military art practiced by a priveleged few. After helping his father in Beijing (see below), he brought the art to Shanghai, starting his own school there in 1928. His reputation quickly grew, not just as a Tai Chi master, but as an excellent teacher who created new forms that made it easier for the public to learn. He trained others to teach, and in 1935 he founded the Chien-Chuan Tai Chi Chuan Association. Efforts to further promote Tai Chi in the south were hampered by the 1939-45 war, and Wu Chien-Chuan died in 1942. Wu had several well known disciples including Cheng Wing-Kwong (see above) and Wu Tu-Nan (whose sword form we practice), and has many descendants still running schools today.

Wu Chuan-Yu (吳全佑)

  • 1834 - 1902
  • Second generation Yang style

Wu Chuan-Yu (Wu Quan-Yu) was an officer in the Imperial guard in the Forbidden City during the Ching (Qing) dynasty. His martial arts instructor was Yang Lu-Chan, a famous Tai Chi master. Only Wu Chuan-Yu and two others earned the right to become Yang's disciples. However, this created a problem - disciples would be senior to all of Yang's other students, which included some high ranking officers and members of nobility. The solution was for them to instead become disciples of Yang's eldest son, Yang Ban Hou. After retiring from military service, Wu Chuan-Yu established a successful school in Beijing, where he taught his modified version of Yang's Tai Chi. This would eventually be known as Wu style Tai Chi, although no such distinction was made in his lifetime. Wu was said to have gained his master's skill in evasive techniques, developing exceptional softness which he used to feign weakness, and effectively neutralise a hard attacking force. His disciples included his own son, Wu Chien-Chuan (see above), and Qi Ge-Chen (齊閣臣). (Our lineage also includes Qi Ge-Chen, and his son Qi Min-Xuan).

Ching dynasty Imperial Guard

Cavalry Officer of the Yellow Banner Camp

Yang Ban-Hou (楊班侯)

  • 1837 - 1892
  • Second generation Yang style

Little is known about Yang Ban-Hou, although the stories paint a picture of a young man walking in the shadow of his father's genius. Inheriting his father's position as martial arts instructor to the imperial guard, Ban-Hou grew up with a strict training regime which he reportedly hated and would often abscond from. Various accounts describe him as short tempered, arrogant and always getting into fights. He is said to have mistreated his students, and had few disciples as a result. His disciple Wu Chuan-Yu, for example, was actually slightly older. It's possible they actually grew up training together and were more 'brothers' than master and disciple, but this formality was a convenient arrangement for both families. While Ban-hou may have been a difficult man, he was his father's son and was highly skilled in the art. He was famous for his aggression, remarkable talent with a long staff, and a special ability to stick to his opponents. He was also a scholar and by one account, a hero as well.

The Yang family manuscript

There is an old handwritten document from around 1875 which is attributed to Yang Ban-Hou, which may well have been inspired by the passing of his father Yang Lu-Chan in 1872. It is called 'Explaining Tai Chi Principles' and you can see a complete translation here.

The hero of Yongnian City

"One day in Yongnian City, inside the stalls located at the East Gate, a fire started due to carelessness. Water surrounded all of Yongnian City and it teemed with reeds. It was late fall, after the harvest, and inside the stall bundles of reeds were piled up into a small mountain. Once one of the stalls caught fire, if it was not put out quickly it would turn into an inferno. At this time, Yang Ban Hou rushed to the scene wielding a spear, lifting and throwing the fiery bundles of reeds. The burning bundles flew through the air like a string of fish, and almost instantly they were all in the water. With the fire extinguished and conflagration avoided, the word of his deed spread quickly through the city."

Source: Yang Jun (www.yangfamilytaichi.com)

Yang Lu-Chan (楊露禪)

  • 1799 - 1892
  • Founder of Yang style Tai Chi

Yang style Tai Chi is very popular today, and it's founder Yang Lu-Chan is possibly the most famous figure in Tai Chi history. Before him, Tai Chi had been a well kept secret of the Chen family for centuries. As a young man Yang worked with the Chen family and found out about their martial arts, then pursued and trained with Chen Chang-Hsing. However he received limited instruction because he was an outsider. Legend has it that Yang perservered, and discovered his master was teaching secretly late at night. So by spying on him, he learned and practiced the Chen methods himself in secret. One day he was found out when sparring - no other student could touch him. The Chen master recognised his own teaching, but also Yang's great potential, so he relented and took him as a disciple.

Eventually Yang headed out into the world and started to teach. As a master he was then entitled to challenge masters from other schools - a very serious business in those days that often resulted in injury or death. However, Yang would simply defend himself and show off his skill, but never beat or embarrass his opponent, gaining him great respect. Undefeated, he earned the nickname 'Yang the Invincible'. Word of his prowess in a new, unseen, and superior type of martial art quickly spread. He used softness and yielding to overcome hardness and strength and he did it with remarkable ease. In 1850 he was summoned to the Forbidden City to teach it to members of the royal family. He was soon appointed as head instructor to the Imperial Guard which he held until retirement.

The name 'Tai Chi Chuan' was invented by a poet who watched Yang perform, a great complement meaning he had mastered the physical world around him. In truth Yang was an amazing talent, who dedicated his life to developing and teaching an art now practiced by millions of people.

Copyright © Qilin School of Tai Chi Chuan 2023