Tai Chi Styles

There are many different styles of Tai Chi, though the major styles that have been recognized in China and internationally are Yang, Chen, Sun, and Wu styles. These styles are named after the families that created, developed, and passed them on. Grandmaster Cheng teaches Yang, Chen, and Sun styles.

Yang Style

Grandmaster Cheng (third from left) visiting her Tai Chi teacher Li Tianji (far left).

Yang style Tai Chi is the most popular and widely practiced style of Tai Chi in the world. It can be practiced by people of all ages and physical abilities. Yang style Tai Chi was founded by Yang Luchan, a master of Chen style Tai Chi. He developed Yang style Tai Chi by emphasizing Tai Chi's slow, even, fluid, and expansive movements. Our school's traditional Yang style Tai Chi lineage comes through Fu Zhongwen, famous disciple and son-in law of Yang Luchan's grandson, Yang Chengfu. Grandmaster Cheng studied intensively under Fu Zhongwen in Shanghai for many years.

Traditional Yang style Tai Chi branched off into many different family styles with significant variations in their movements and forms.  In 1956, the Chinese Sports Commission, under the leadership of Tai Chi and Wushu master Li Tianji brought together four Yang style Tai Chi masters, including Fu Zhongwen, to develop a Yang style Tai Chi form with standardized movements. The form created was the 24 Form, which is now the most popular form practiced around the world. Li Tianji was Grandmaster Cheng's main Tai Chi teacher. Our school teaches the 24 Form as Grandmaster Cheng learned it from its creators.

A very special gift given to Grandmaster Cheng: images of Yang Chengfu performing the 108 form, given to her and signed by Yang Chengfu’s son-in-law and top disciple, Fu Zhongwen.

Chen Style

Grandmaster Cheng with Chen Xiaowang

Grandmaster Cheng with Chen Xiaowang

Chen style Tai Chi is the oldest of the traditional family styles and ancestor to the Yang, Wu, and Sun styles. Chen style Tai Chi originated in the Chen Village of Henan Province in China. While all Tai Chi styles have martial applications, Chen style Tai Chi forms focus more heavily on the martial aspect of Tai Chi. Chen style Tai Chi is practiced in a low stance, utilizing body coiling movements, stomping, and explosive releases of power called "fa jin.” Chen style Tai Chi is more physically intensive than Yang style Tai Chi and requires more strength, flexibility, and endurance. Grandmaster Cheng learned Chen Style Tai Chi from Chen Zhenglei, a member of the Chen family and 11th generation direct-line successor of Chen Style Tai Chi. She served on the 11-member committee that founded the Tai Chi competition standards alongside Chen Xiaowang, also a direct successor of his family’s Chen Style Tai Chi.

Grandmaster Cheng and Chen Zhenglei on the 1988 National Tai Chi team.

Grandmaster Cheng with her Sun style Tai Chi teacher, Sun Jianyun. The image to the right in the background is of Sun Jianyun’s father, Sun Lutang, the founder of Sun style Tai Chi.

Sun Style

Sun style Tai Chi was founded by Sun Lutang, a master of Xingyichuan and Baguazhang, two hard internal martial art systems. After Sun Lutang learned and mastered the soft internal martial art of Tai Chi, he developed his own style of Tai Chi combining all three systems. Sun style Tai Chi is practiced in a higher stance than Yang or Chen style Tai Chi. Sun style Tai Chi has the linear leg and waist movements of Xingyi, the stepping and circular hand movements of Bagua, and the softness of Tai Chi.

Grandmaster Cheng’s Sun style Tai Chi lineage comes through Sun Jianyun (Sun Lutang's daughter). In 1988, the competition Sun style Tai Chi form was established, and The Chinese Wushu Research Institute published their official teaching video for the form, featuring Grandmaster Cheng performing the new routine.

Grandmaster Cheng training with Sun Jianyun.