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Tai Chi Chuan Family Tree
Chang San Feng
1279 - 1368
14 generations Tai Chi stayed in the Ch'en Family Ch'en Ch'ang-Hsing
Yang Lu Chan aka "Yang The Invincible"
Founder of Yang Style Tai Chi & Guang Ping Yang Style Tai Chi
...click here for more information about Yang Lu Chan.
Yang Pan Hou aka "Yang The Unbeatable"
...click here for more information about Yan Pan Hou.
Wong Jiao Yu
Very little to no information is available about Wong Jao Yu. It is know that Wong Jao Yu had few students, one of them Kuo Lien Ying; another was Wong Xir Chun. In addition, I have been unable to obtain any photographs of him either.
Kuo Lien Ying
...click here for more information about Kuo Lien Ying
...click here for more information about Peter Kwok
Peter Kwok doing
Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi
Randy Elia &
Patrick Hanvey & Mark Gates
I was fortunate enough to study with 4 very skilled students of Peter Kwok named above.
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Kuo Lien Ying
The Living Legend of San Francisco Chinatown - Lien Ying Kuo
Inside Kung Fu December 1976
Article by RICK SHIVELY
Lien Ying Kuo's name has been bandied about the international Chinese martial arts community for so long it's become legendary. And, happily enough, the high‑spirited, fun loving octogenarian is still around gleefully adding to the plethora of fact and fantasy that has surrounded his incredible career ever since he came to this country more than 11 years ago.
An undisputed master of tai chi chuan, Hsing I and pa kua, the 84 year old Shifu holds court in a small, practical little studio perched directly across the street from Portsmouth Square in San Francisco. A one square block park tucked incongruously between the aged, some aged, somewhat dilapidated yet still quaint buildings of Chinatown and the imposing sterility of the TransAmerican Pyramid which guards the boundaries of the Golden Gate City's financial district, Portsmouth Square is also euphemistically referred to by many natives as "Tai Chi Park."
The name is a fitting one as any early morning visitor would surely agree. As early as five a.m., anywhere from 20 to 40 people can be seen performing a ghostly ballet in the cold, damp fog. Usually at the head of this group, a spry, smiling old man runs through a set of exercises to loosen up. After completing a number of forms on his own, he begins to wander amongst the group, correcting a posture here, flashing an encouraging smile there or directing a mild look of reprimand every now and then.
It's Lien Ying Kuo and he's in his element‑teaching. Even though he can speak only the barest amount of English, the aged instructor seems to have little difficulty imparting even the most complicated of moves to an eager class of students.
The early morning group in the park are representative of the people who straggle in at other odd times of the day and evening. And, even though the master and his family retire to their apartment behind the studio at an early hour, the school is open to any students who want to use it.
"We want people to be happy here," Ein Gru, Master Kuo's pleasant‑faced 31 year old wife says with a grin. "That's why we're open alla time. Otherwise, what good?"
Kuo's Tai Chi Chuan Academy is a family operation. Aside from acting as interpreter, wife and mother to Kuo's 9‑year‑old son Chung Mei, and official greeter to the seemingly hundreds of people who wander in and out of the school all day, Ein is also an instructor and mother‑confessor to many of the students who attend the academy.
"We like to help all over," she says with a modest smile. "Tai chi can help many things, make a person feel very good in all ways, riot just physical. And sometimes, just talk make people feel good. So, we do that too."
Understandably enough, most of the regulars at the early morning ritual are relatively longtime students of the Kuos but they make up an interesting cross-section of people. Most are highly educated professional people and all with the exception of one would be classed as nonviolent people who find hard style martial arts contrary to their nature.
Kuo is one of the major theorists of the Chin school which supposedly offers the closest blend of the hard and soft styles, Chin stylists claim there is a 50-50 blend of the two because while you are yielding, you are most conscious of ill unyielding and that is the only way you can take advantage of all things.
The one benefit virtually all of the students tout is the health aspects of the art. To a man, they all claim they've never felt better since taking up the pre‑dawn exercise class. All of Kuo's students at heavily encouraged to attend the session and according to the veterans, new face drift in and out of the class on a regular basis.
"I notice a difference doing it in the morning at this time," says one enthusiastic practitioner. "For some reason, it doesn't feel as good at nine or ten. Plus when I first started coming, it was a lo later than this and the Shifu would say, thought you were coming in the morning, and I'd say, “This is the morning” - it'd be ten o'clock. Then he'd say, 'This is not the morning.'
"So, I started coming about eight, but I was told that still wasn't morning. Finally, I got it down to about six and that was a little better. Now," the student adds with a laugh, "I get here at five and I never felt better."
According to Kuo's wife, people don't start the early classes until they've taken tai chi for at least six months. The Kuos are aware the average American finds it difficult enough to master the intricate forms in the art and don't have the patience requited to really learn tai chi in the traditional manner. Consequently, they make an attempt to simplify the initial learning process as much as possible.
"We only teach the beginning class the five basic exercises," Mrs. Kuo explains, “rotating the waist, feet and knee, putting hands together and stretching. This is enough for beginning. Even the fourth and fifth exercises take a long time to learn so we don't want to give them too much.
"In the old days back in China, they teach five basic exercises every day until you learn them all and then you had to put teeth to toe before learning the rest of tai chi. But those are the old days. We don't do that anymore. It is more important now for people to think for themselves. Too many people in hurry, then too many forms get mixed up. You can finish beginners' course here in six months but to do it very well, it takes thee years to learn all 64 forms down real well.
One of the things all the students also seem to share is a sense of serenity rarely seen in the average dojo or kwoon. Despite the early hour, for instance, there doesn't seem to be any sign of temperament or grumpiness and everyone is very much awake. A first‑time observer, in fact, would have to walk away more convinced these people were involved in an exercise of the senses rather than a physical one. Of course, in a sense tai chi is a sensory exercise
"It's so relaxing, says one student who is a sociologist and a member of the faculty at a San Francisco school of psychology. "The thing about it is, ideally, you should have to be able to do the tai chi and have the thought inside of the form, concentrating and sending it through the body. All the ideas that usually run through your mind, you put at rest and when you do tai chi, you can think about every individual movement of your body. It is a very relaxing thing.
"You have to relax to do the forms and the single thought is relaxing. After your body gets real strong and you have the confidence that when you take one step the body will go right there, then you are never more relaxed. That way, the older you get, the stronger you get rather than weaker. Your body looks different and you look different. People will comment on it."
The therapeutic effect certainly is one of the strongest incentives to drive a student for the period of time it must take him to really learn the art. And, at the same time, the soothing aspects of the sport probably are a reason it attracts so many people involved in high pressure jobs. But there is also another appeal that attracts many of San Francisco's young Chinese‑the Cultural aspect.
"At one time," says one young Chinese student, "I was interested in a lot of things but I got away from Chinese culture. But I guess I was ready to get back into it so I took a course in Eastern philosophy and started looking around. I just happened to stumble in here and I've been doing it ever since."
Master Kuo, without a word to any of the students, begins to gather up whatever he brought outside with him and heads back across the street. Informality is stressed and class doesn't ever really start or end at any particular time. If a student has a question they feel they must know the answer to, they all know where to find the Kuos.
"There's no problem here," Mrs. Kuo says with still another smile. "Most people come here and as soon as they do exercise and relax body, they got no problem. Sometimes they have problem ‑not very happy from face. Tai chi help there too. If that can't, maybe we can. That what we here for too."
Maybe that's why all those people get up that early in the morning. And they're Call smiling too.