Yang Tai Chi and Snake Style Denial
Friday, June 28, 2013 at 05:17PM
Bob Boyd


Email from Mabel Ip to Bob Boyd circa 8/2001:


My father asks that you forget all of your previous tai chi training including your practice habits. He wants you to empty your cup so he can fill it with fresh tea.”


I received this email from Grandmaster Ip's daughter before I made my first trip to Hong Kong to train with her father. I had to laugh. “I guess it's “his way or the highway,” I thought. “All tai chi is more or less the same – right? He just wants me to do it his way – right?”


Wrong. Now, 12 years later, I understand what he meant. As his Disciple, I was now allowed to learn the snake style of Yang family tai chi chuan. This system was kept a secret, and Grandmaster Ip had learned it from Great Grandmaster Yang Sau Chung when he became Master Yang's First Disciple.


The snake style changed my world. It fulfilled the promise of tai chi both martially, but more importantly, physically. My body became flexible and strong and I felt a vigor and youthfulness that I hadn't felt in a very long time. Grandmaster Ip gave me permission to teach this system openly. I began to do this in 2001. In 2012, I wrote a book about the snake style and my experiences in Hong Kong. It is called: “Snake Style Tai Chi Chuan – The Hidden System of the Yang Family.


Since its publication, the internet is full of criticisms. “He made this up,” some say. “I never heard of it and I knew Master Ip,” others say. To them I say: “Of course you don't know about it, it was a secret.” The definition of a secret is “...not meant to be known or seen by others.” The Chinese have been a secretive society for generations and martial arts clans are notorious for keeping their methods hidden behind closed doors.


The snake style clearly and practically applies the Yang family principles as written in the Yang family's writings. If the snake style had been lost forever, it would have been a sad blow to the integrity and legacy of both tai chi and the great Yang family. Grandmaster Ip had the intelligence and vision to allow the snake style to become an open teaching. I am proud to be carrying it on in his name.

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