Yang Lu-chan (楊露禪), also known as Yang Fu-kui, born in Kuang-p'ing , was an influential teacher of the martial art known as tai chi chuan in China during the second half of the 19th century, known as the founder of Yang style tai chi chuan.
Yang Lu Chan’s family was from Hebei Province, Guangping Prefecture, Yongnian County and since childhood his family was poor. He would follow his father in planting the fields and as a teenager held temporary jobs. One period of temporary work was spent doing odd jobs at the Tai He Tang Chinese pharmacy located in the west part of Yongnian City . As a child, Yang liked martial arts and started studying Chang Chuan, gaining a certain level of skill.
One day some hoodlums came to Tai He Tang looking for trouble. One of the partners of the pharmacy used a kind of martial art that Yang Lu Chan had never before seen to easily subdue the troublemakers. Because of this, Yang requested to study with the owner, Cheng De Hu. Cheng saw Yang's sincerety and referred him to the Chen Village to seek the 14th generation of the Chen Family, Chen Chang-Xing, as his teacher.
After mastering the martial art, Yang Lu Chan was subsequently given permission by his teacher to go to Beijing and teach his own students, including and his brothers, who were officials in the Imperial Qing dynasty bureaucracy.. In 1850, Yang was hired by the to teach tai chi chuan to them and several of their élite Manchu Imperial Guards Brigade units in Beijing's Forbidden City, in whose number was Yang's best known non-family student, Wu Ch'uan-yü. This was the beginning of the spread of tai chi chuan from the family art of a small village in central China to an international phenomenon. Due to his influence and the number of teachers he trained, including his own descendants, Yang is directly acknowledged by 4 of the 5 tai chi chuan families as having transmitted the art to them.
Having refined his martial skill to an extremely high level, Yang Lu Chan came to be known as Yang Wu Di. After emerging from Chenjiagou, Yang became famous for never losing a match and never seriously injuring his opponents. Several noteworthy episodes worth mentioning illustrate his level of attainment:
Once while fishing at a lake, two other martial artists hoped to push Yang in the water and ruin his reputation. Yang – sensing the attacker's intention – arched his chest, rounded his back, and executed the High Pat on Horse technique. As his back arched and head bowed, the two attackers were bounced into the water simultaneously. He then said to them that he would be easy on them today; but if they were on the ground, he would have punished them more severely. The two attackers quickly swam away.
Yang was invited to the abode of a rich man in Beijing called Chang who had heard of Yang's great skills to demonstrate his art. Yang Lu Chan was small of build and did not look like a boxer, when Chang saw him, he thought little of his ability and so served him a very simple dinner. Yang Lu Chan was fully aware of his host's thoughts but continued to behave like an honoured guest. Chang later questioned if Yang's Tai Ch'i, being so soft, could defeat people. Given that he invited Yang on the basis of his reputation as a great fighter, this question was clearly a veiled insult. Yang replied that there were only three kinds of people he could not defeat: men of brass, men of iron and men of wood. Chang invited out his best bodyguard by the name of Liu to test Yang's skill. Liu entered aggressively and attacked Yang. Yang, employing only a simple yielding technique, threw Liu across the yard. Chang was very impressed and immediately ordered a banquet to be prepared for Yang.
When Yang was at Guangping, he often fought with people on the castle wall. One opponent was unable to defend against Yang's attacks and kept on retreating to the edge of the wall. Yang's opponent, unable to keep his balance began to fall over the edge. At the instant before the opponent fell, Yang, from about thirty feet away, leaped forward, caught the opponent's foot and saved him from falling to his death.