East West Acupuncture

East West Acupuncture

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Our Tai Chi Lineage


6th century B.C.

The origins of Tai Chi are shrouded in the mists of Chinese history. The philosophical roots of this “internal” style of wushu (martial art) extend back to antiquity where the idea of “softness overcomes hardness” figured prominently in Taoist philosophy. In the sixth century BC, the Taoist sage Laozi (Lao Tzu) expressed many ideas which later became the essence of Tai Chi:

“Yield and Overcome;
Bend and be straight…
He who stands on tiptoe is not steady.
He who strides cannot maintain the pace.”


Zhang Sanfeng, the legendary founder of Tai Chi Ch'uan.  From a stone engraving on Wudang Mountain.

Legend attributes the creation of Tai Chi to Zhang Sanfeng, a Taoist monk from the Song Dynasty (1127-1279).  It is said that Zhang was giant in stature and a master of Chinese wushu.  In creating Tai Chi, he synthesized existing martial arts practices with Taoist philosophy and qigong, an ancient Chinese exercise system based on cultivation and circulation of qi (vital energy).

After Zhang, the art of Tai Chi was passed down for generations until it came into the Chen family of the Henan province.  Rumors of the Chen family’s seemingly magical fighting skills spread throughout China.


Yang Luchan

Yang Luchan (1799-1879), a wushu master from a poor family, heard these rumors and traveled to the Chen household hoping to learn Tai Chi, but was turned away.  At that time, wushu techniques were closely-guarded secrets only taught to immediate family members.  Undeterred, Yang obtained work as a servant in the Chen household.  One day, he heard noises coming from a courtyard.  He made a hole in the wall and peeked in on Master Chen teaching Tai Chi to his family.  Everyday, Yang secretly observed the classes and practiced privately.  Later, Yang got in a fight with a Chen student and used some Tai Chi techniques to defeat him.  Other students challenged him and he was able to best them all.  When Master Chen heard about this display and called for Yang, the young man confessed the truth.  Master Chen was so impressed that he broke with tradition and accepted Yang Luchan as his disciple.

Yang went on to become his best student.  After he left the Chen household, Yang took it as his mission to spread Tai Chi to all who were willing to diligently apply themselves.   In Beijing, he opened the first Tai Chi school that was open to the public.  Everywhere that Yang Luchan went he was challenged, but he never lost a fight.  Therefore, he became known as “Invincible Yang.”


Yang Jianhou


Yang Luchan taught Tai Chi to his sons, including Yang Jianhou, and the fame of “Yang Style” Tai Chi spread throughout China.


Yang Chengfu


Yang Luchan’s grandson Yang Chengfu is considered the greatest master of Yang Style Tai Chi in the modern era.  He refined the style into its current form.

Li Yaxuan


Master Li Yaxuan became a disciple of Yang Chengfu in 1914.  He followed his teacher for over ten years and became one of his most accomplished students.  Yang Chengfu once spoke of Li to the other students: “Yaxuan’s natural talent for Tai Chi is unattainable by the rest of you.  His spirit of hard work and endurance, and his intensity and passion for study are something the rest of you cannot match.”  Li Yaxuan later brought the authentic Yang style Tai Chi to the Sichuan province.


Chen Longxiang
(1948 -- present)


Master Chen Longxiang studied with Li Yaxuan for 20 years, from the age of 8 up until his teacher’s death in 1976.    After Master Li’s death, Master Chen continued to teach Tai Chi in Chengdu, Sichuan where he had been a favorite disciple and teaching assistant to Li Yaxuan for many years.  In 1988, Master Chen and his wife Li Mindi (Li Yaxuan’s daughter) published a series of books that included a detailed description of the style of Tai Chi taught by Li Yaxuan, as well as a collection of notes on Tai Chi theory and practice by Li Yaxuan.  Matthew Miller has published a translation of Master Chen's books.



Matthew Miller
(1965 -- present)


Matthew Miller grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia.  He lived in China for nine years, where he trained with Master Chen Longxiang.  Master Chen accepted him as a disciple in a traditional ceremony and authorized him to teach in the United States.  Matthew also earned his medical degree at the Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where he specialized in acupuncture.  He currently teaches Tai Chi in Lynchburg, VA, where he also operates East West Acupuncture, an acupuncture and Chinese herbology clinic.