I learned this rare and beautiful style of early Yang Tai Chi from Master Kuo Ling-ying of San Francisco. Named after the Kuang Ping Province in China, where it was first practiced, it is considered the original Yang-style invented by Yang Lu Chuan.
Yang Lu Chuan was a gifted Kung Fu expert who wanted to learn Tai Chi, but because it was a closely kept secret of the Chen family, he realized that it would not be easy. So Yang went to the Chen household and gained employment as a servant. Unbeknownst to the Chen family, Yang was secretly spying on their Tai Chi practice.
One day, a rival boxing family challenged the Yang family to a duel while Grand Master Chen was away. The challengers easily defeated all of the Master's sons. The servant, Yang, demanded that he also be permitted to duel. He defeated the rival boxers and restored the Chen family honor.
Yang's fame increased and eventually, Yang Lu Chuan left the Chen family and modified their Tai Chi form to suit his own ideas. Thus, the first Yang-style Tai Chi was created. It is this form that I feature on my DVD.
Yang was invited by the reigning Manchurian government, to demonstrate his art to the military. To do this, he was asked to duel with the Manchurian generals one by one, until all were defeated. In so doing, he established himself as perhaps the finest fighter in Asia and his Tai Chi Chuan as the supreme ultimate fighting style.
The Manchurians were eager to learn this effective fighting style, but Yang decided that he should modify the form once again and teach them a different version. He created and taught them the now traditional 108-move "Long Form," which became popular in China, both in its complete version and in its shortened derivations.
Today Yang's original Kuang Ping form has almost fallen into oblivion. It was, however, practiced by the son of Yang Lu Chuan, Yang Pan-Hou, who taught it to his servant Wong Chiao-Yu of Bejing.
My own teacher, Kuo Ling-ying was a young and powerful bodyguard when he was badly defeated in a match with Wong Chiao-Yu, then 112 years old. He remained in Bejing to study with Master Wong. Later Kuo Ling-ying introduced this style in San Francisco's Chinatown, where I studied under him in the early 70's. Master Kuo died in his ninety-third year.
Kuang Ping is the missing link between the Chen and the conventional Yang style of Tai Chi. It retains the explosive punches and kicks of the Chen style and yet contains the softer movements of the Yang style. It is a more stretched out, open and obviously martial looking style of Tai Chi and is in my personal opinion the most beautiful of all the Tai Chi styles.