Chang San Feng, a famous daoist, probably of the Ming Dynasty, is credited with creating Tai Chi Chuan. He had a dream where the God of War appeared and showed him the art. Either that or he observed a fight between a crane and a snake and based the art of the movements on the snake. Both versions are equally popular.
Chinese Historians have come up with a lineage linking Chang San Feng with the present day, however this is an interminable list of names which we need not bother with.
In the 1850s, Yang Lu Chan, was to be found teaching Tai Chi Chuan in Beijing. He taught members of the Imperial Bodyguard at the Forbidden City. He and his sons: Yang Ban Hou – the elder and Yang Chien Hou – the younger taught various other people, thus effectively bringing Tai Chi into public view.
It was Yang Lu Chan who first used the name Tai Chi Chuan and he gave a backstory. Claiming he had learned the art from the Chen family – a famous family of Boxers from the North of China. The Chen family claim to have invented Tai Chi Chuan but the Chang San Feng legend is more popular.
One of the Imperial Bodyguards taught by Yang Ban Hou, called Chuan You, had a son called Chien Chuan. Chen Chuan later adopted the surname Wu thus becoming Wu Chien Chuan. He was the founder of the Wu family Style. One of his sons taught Cheng Tin Hung who called his style Wudang, after the home of Chang San Feng, and also called it Practical Tai Chi Chuan.
Dan Docherty while serving as an inspector in the Royal Hong Kong Police Force trained under Chen Tin Hung. When he returned to the UK he started teaching. He now runs Practical Tai Chi Chuan International with classes in many countries.