Yue Fei (1103-1142) born in the Tangyin Yonghe county - Yue Jia Zhuang (now this area is known is found in Caiyuan village, Tangyin county, Anyang City, Henan Province. Yue Fei was a famous general in the Southern Song Dynasty during the time when the Jurchen armies of the Jin Dynasty were expanding their empire. Originally from a simple farming family he was trained by various teachers (including Zhou Tong) in military strategy (Sunzi BinFa is mentioned) and weaponry (archery, spear) before participating in the Imperial military exams in Kaifeng of which he excelled over all others. His spear skills which he studied with Chen Guang, was said to have no equal. He later joined the Song army and became one of the greatest leaders of his time.
In 1122, he won a great victory when they entered a place called the Tigers Cave, however upon discussions with his superiors he was disillusioned of the afforts of the Song government and ask to return home for the mourning of his fathers passing. At that time it is said he passed on some elementary boxing skills to the youth in his village. Whilst he lived in Tangyin county which was very poor, many locals had heard of his victories and stayed at his home begging to be taught boxing and weapons so that they too may be able to find a place in the army. Yue Fei saw the difficulties as the beggars had no food nor decent clothing and was perplexed, his mother consoled him and he left to join further expeditions in Taixing Mountain and the Wei State area (now known as Xinxiang county) around 1127 together with general Zhang Yi. In 1132 he fought in Huangmei and Hongzhou (today's Nanchang, Jiangxi), he left his son, Yue Zhen to train the locals there to protect the area. They produced many soldiers that later joined the imperial song armies. His successes lead to becoming the general of Yue's Batallion and it was Yue Fei's golden age up until 1140 unfortunately in 1142 he endured a tragic end as he was betrayed and murdered at the age of only 39. He remained a symbol of loyalty and patriotism to the nation and has been respected by the Chinese people for centuries.
Although living until only a relatively young age, Yue Fei had achieved a high level of military strategy/skills and mastery of martial arts. Yue Fei had many sons including Yue Yun, Yue Lei, Yue Ting, Yue Lin and Yue Zhen. His wife and sons resided in the areas around what is now known as Huangmei, Wuxue and Jiujiang (in Hubei and Jiangxi province). His second son Yue Lei succeeded his post in the military, Yue Ting also followed his father in battle but later returned to join Yuezhen in Hubei. The Yue family has literally hundreds of direct descendants still living in Hubei/Jiangxi and many are direct from Yue Fei's sons. Originally the boxing methods that Yue Fei taught were not named as such and it is only generations later that it became known as Yue Jia Quan. Some of the military officers in earlier times in Henan also learnt some boxing which for a short period was known as Yue Jia Chui which have descendants in Henan province it was passed by some of his military members. Since the Hakka also passed through Jiangxi, the Yue Jia Jiao style of Meixian in Guangdong is also derived from this same source.
For an understanding of the Yingmen which originated in the Hongmen, please refer to section on Hongjia Quan.
History and Development
To the members of the Yue families in Hubei and Jiangxi province, the legend is in fact a reality. They are very clear that their boxing is descendant from the sons of Yue Fei and therefore Yue Fei himself. Being a direct bloodline until quite recently this was rarely taught to outsiders. In fact the principles of Yue Jia Quan are essentially the basis on which boxing in the Jiangxi areas was built upon.
According to the Jiangxi records of Yichun and Fengcheng (where Yingmen is popularly practiced), the first use of the Yingmenquan is attributed to the Qing dynasty when the most famous inheritor of Jiangxi Ying Men boxing Deng Zilong, learnt the skills from a warrior named Luo Hongxian, who was from the Huangmei districts of Hubei. According to one account Luo Hongxian fled from Huangmei southward as he had killed some bandits andhe then passed his skills of Yue Jia Shou (Yue Family Hands, equivalent to Yue jia Quan/Yingmenquan).
As result of Yingmenquan being a collective term for many southern boxing styles, it is distinguished by the major family practices. There are many family branches in Yingmenquan such as Zhang Family (originates from Guangdong, the founder was an ex Tian Di Hui member), Zhao family (originates from Hubei Huangmei, Yue Family Boxing), Ma Family (originates from Guangdong, Hongmen), Zhang Family (originates from Hubei Wuxue, Yue Famiy Boxing with later influences from Fujian).
Essentially the boxing systems of Jiangxi have later through countless practitioners adopted the best points of other schools. Ying Men Quan also inherited some Tiger boxing (Hu Zun Quan) from Fujian and even Guangdong boxing methods (Hong Quan) during the boxer rebellion periods. Therefore although there are many masters of Ying Men Quan in Jiangxi, each school or lineage can have different influences thus contributing to some contrast in the contents and practice.