Here is a link to what is reportedly a rare video of Master Cheng Man-Ch'ing performing Yang style Tai Chi Chuan. The "Professor" is older than in other videos available of him, but his form is still impeccable and exquisite.
Chen Man-Ch'ing Short Tai Chi Form
I also "discovered" this posting on Youtube of equally rare footage of Master Xiong Yang He.
熊公養和太極拳架教學_Master Xiong Yang He's Taiji_Part 1.mp4
熊公養和太極拳架教學_Master Xiong Yang He's Taiji_Part 2.mp4
I have recently started teaching. It took many long walks in the woods, as they say, before I agreed with myself to do this. I have studied with several teachers and attempted several different forms, but when I am on my own, I work in the tradition of the Xiong Yang He lineage that was my first experience in learning Tai Chi. I have read, watched and participated in classes and workshops (and continue to do so) and I like to think I am building upon the foundation you may see in these clips, if you watch carefully. I've also been greatly influenced by the tradition of the Cheng Man-Ch'ing lineage.
For my own teaching I have chosen to offer instruction in the Yang Simplified 24 Posture Form, which was developed in the mid 1950's and is sometimes called "The Beijing Style." I've modified it slightly with regard to "style" and hopefully have not only kept, but enhanced the "form" along the lines of Xiong Yang He. There are some obvious differences that are not important, and some subtle ones that are.
A word or two about the difference between "style" and "form." Think about a suit of clothes. It may have wide lapels or narrow ones, cuffs or no cuffs, buttons or zippers, be tight fitting or loose: these are matters of style. It will be functional in terms of form, as it is shaped to the body: arms, legs and torso give its form. Certainly the elements of style are important and should be followed in their particulars as we seek to achieve "proper" form. They are the essence of discipline and help to define our actions. But they are metaphors for the underlying Form and should not be confused for it.
I see the Beijing Style as it is practiced today as an exhibition form, with nuances that can be elaborated in athletic, even gymnastic manners. But sometimes, as I watch videos, I am apprehensive that the meaning of the movement has been muddled as the emphasis is shifted toward acrobatics. How high can you kick? How low can you bend? How far can you extend your stance? It all looks very impressive, but is it Tai Chi?
Now I'm not saying that I wouldn't kick higher if my tendons would allow me to, or that I don't appreciate the dexterity and pageantry of the modern performers. Nor am I saying that it's OK to make up your own version of the Form. There are those who argue that the old masters would be kicking up over their heads if they could (and may have when they were younger and hadn't been filmed yet.) But style must not be confused with form.
I've written elsewhere about the drawbacks to learning from watching videos. I think it is good to watch them and compare them. Yet the issue can be confusing, especially to a beginner who might be prompted then to say, "So-and-so doesn't do it that way in his video," or "I took a class where whatamacallit did it differently." Then where do we go to look for evidence of the One True Form?
Shall I repeat it? The energy (Qi) is rooted in the feet, develops in the legs, is governed by the waist and expressed in the fingers.
One turns to the Tai Chi Classics for knowledge, to the writings of the Masters, Yang Chenfu, Cheng Man-Ch'ing, Fu Zhongwen, T. T. Liang, W. C. C. Chen, etc., for inspiration, to one's teachers for example and to one's own experience through diligence and practice for understanding.