Wu style tai chi chuan

Wu Yen-hsia in the posture Grasp Bird's Tail during a form demonstration in Toronto, 1995
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The Wu family-style (Chinese: 吳氏 or 吳家; pinyin: wúshì or wújiā) t'ai chi ch'uan (taijiquan) of Wu Ch'uan-yu (Wu Quanyou) and Wu Chien-ch'uan (Wu Jianquan) is the second most popular form of t'ai chi ch'uan in the world today, after the Yang style,[1] and fourth in terms of family seniority.[2] This style is different from the Wu style of t'ai chi ch'uan (武氏) founded by Wu Yu-hsiang. While the names are distinct in pronunciation and the Chinese characters used to write them are different, they are often romanized the same way.



Wu Ch'uan-yu (吳全佑, 1834–1902) was a military officer cadet of Manchu ancestry in the Yellow Banner camp (see Qing Dynasty Military) in the Forbidden City, Beijing and also a hereditary officer of the Imperial Guards Brigade.[3] At that time, Yang Lu-ch'an (楊露禪, 1799–1872) was the martial arts instructor in the Imperial Guards, teaching t'ai chi ch'uan, and in 1850 Wu Ch'uan-yu became one of his students.[2]

In 1870, Wu Ch'uan-yu was asked to become the senior disciple of Yang Pan-hou (楊班侯, 1837-1890), Yang Lu-ch'an’s oldest adult son, and an instructor as well to the Manchu military.[2][1] Wu Ch'uan-yu had three primary disciples: his son Wu Chien-ch'uan, Wang Mao Zhai and Guo Fen.[4]

Wu Ch'uan-yu's son, Wu Chien-ch'uan (吳鑑泉, 1870-1942), and grandchildren: grandsons Wu Kung-i (Wu Gongyi, 吳公儀, 1900-1970) and Wu Kung-tsao (Wu Gongzao, 吳公藻, 1902-1983) as well as granddaughter Wu Ying-hua (Wu Yinghua, 吳英華, 1906-1996) were well known teachers.[3]

Wu Chien-ch'uan became the most widely known teacher in his family, and is therefore considered the co-founder of the Wu style by his family and their students.[5] He taught large numbers of people and his refinements to the art more clearly distinguish Wu style from Yang style training.[5]

Wu Chien-ch'uan moved his family south from Beijing (where an important school founded by other students of his father is headquartered, popularly known as the Northern Wu style) to Shanghai in 1928, where he founded the Chien-ch'uan T'ai Chi Ch'uan Association (鑑泉太極拳社) in 1935.[3]

Wu Kung-i then moved the family headquarters to Hong Kong in 1948.
His younger sister Wu Ying-hua and her husband, Ma Yueh-liang (Ma Yueliang, 馬岳樑, 1901-1999), stayed behind to manage the original Shanghai school.[6]
Between 1983 and her passing in 1996 Wu Ying-hua was the highest ranked instructor in the Wu family system. Her sons continue teaching and today manage the Shanghai school as well as schools in Europe:

Wu Kung-i's children were also full time martial art teachers:

  • Her son Wu Ta-k'uei (Wu Dakui, 吳大揆, 1923-1972) was active in the resistance to the Japanese invasion of China, yet he later taught t'ai chi ch'uan in Japan after the war.[1]
  • His younger brother, Wu Ta-ch'i (Wu Daqi, 吳大齊, 1926-1993), supervised the family's Hong Kong and southeast Asian schools for many years and opened the family's first western hemisphere school in Toronto, Canada in 1974.
  • Her daughter, Wu Yen-hsia (Wu Yanxia, 吳雁霞, 1930-2001), was known as an expert with the t'ai chi chien (sword).
  • Her cousin, Wu Ta-hsin (Wu Daxin, 吳大新, 1933-2005), was also known as a weapons specialist, particularly with the t'ai chi tao (sabre).[7]


The Wu style's distinctive hand form, pushing hands and weapons trainings emphasize parallel footwork and horse stance training with the feet relatively closer together than the modern Yang or Chen styles, small circle hand techniques (although large circle techniques are trained as well) and differs from the other t'ai chi family styles martially with Wu style's initial focus on grappling, throws (shuai chiao), tumbling, jumping, footsweeps, pressure point leverage and joint locks and breaks, which are trained in addition to more conventional t'ai chi sparring and fencing at advanced levels.[5]

Generational senior instructors of the Wu family t'ai chi ch'uan schools

1st Generation

  • Wu Ch'uan-yu (Quanyou, 吳全佑, 1834-1902), who learned from Yang Lu-ch'an and Yang Pan-hou, was senior instructor of the family from 1870-1902.

2nd generation

  • His oldest son, Wu Chien-ch'uan (Wu Jianquan, 吳鑑泉, 1870-1942), was senior from 1902-1942.

3rd Generation

  • His oldest son, Wu Kung-i (Wu Gongyi, 吳公儀, 1900-1970) was senior from 1942-1970.
  • Wu Kung-i's younger brother, Wu Kung-tsao (Wu Gongzao, 吳公藻, 1903-1983), was senior from 1970-1983.
  • Wu Kung-i's younger sister, Wu Ying-hua (Wu Yinghua, 吳英華, 1907-1997), was senior from 1983-1997.

4th Generation

  • Wu Kung-i's daughter , Wu Yan-hsia (Wu Yanxia, 吳雁霞, 1930-2001) was senior from 1997-2001.
  • Wu Kung-tsao's son, Wu Ta-hsin (Wu Daxin, 吳大新, 1933-2005), was senior from 2001-2005.

5th Generation

  • The current senior instructor of the Wu family is Wu Ta-kuei's son Wu Kuang-yu (Wu Guangyu, Eddie Wu, 吳光宇, born 1946).

See also


  1. ^ a b c Yip, Y. L. (Autumn 2002). Pivot – Qi, The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health and Fitness Vol. 12 No. 3. Insight Graphics Publishers. ISSN 1056-4004. 
  2. ^ a b c Wile, Douglas (1995). Lost T'ai-chi Classics from the Late Ch'ing Dynasty (Chinese Philosophy and Culture). State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0791426548. 
  3. ^ a b c Wu, Kung-tsao (1980, 2006). Wu Family T'ai Chi Ch'uan (吳家太極拳). Chien-ch’uan T’ai-chi Ch’uan Association. ISBN 0-9780499-0-X. 
  4. ^ Zhang, Tina (2006). Classical Northern Wu Style Tai Ji Quan. Blue Snake Books Berkeley, california. ISBN 978-1583941546. 
  5. ^ a b c Philip-Simpson, Margaret (June 1995). A Look at Wu Style Teaching Methods - T’AI CHI The International Magazine of T’ai Chi Ch'uan Vol. 19 No. 3. Wayfarer Publications. ISSN 0730-1049. 
  6. ^ Li, Liqun (October 1998). A Remembrance of Ma Yueh-liang – T’AI CHI The International Magazine of T’ai Chi Ch’uan Vol. 22 No. 5. Wayfarer Publications. ISSN 0730-1049. 
  7. ^ Cai, Naibiao (2006). In Memory of Wu Daxin - Journal of Asian Martial Arts Vol. 15 No. 1. Via Media Publishing. ISSN 1057-8358. 
  • Tina Chunna Zhang, Frank Allen (2006). Classical Northern Wu Style Tai Ji Quan. Blue Snake Books. ISBN 978-1-58394-154-6

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