Style Tai Chi Chuan
The Wu Family style of Tai Chi
originates with Wu Quan Yu (1832-1902),
who learnt the “Small Frame” from both Yang Lu Chan (founder
of the Yang Style of Tai Chi), and his son, Yang Pan Hou. He was Manchurian by race and worked as
the captain of a bodyguard unit in the Imperial Court in Beijing.
Because of his skill in martial arts, he quickly mastered Tai Chi Chuan.
Some say that the smaller movements
and more restricted style of the Wu Form (in comparison with the Yang Style of
Yang Cheng Fu) has its origin in the elaborate and restrictive clothes of the Imperial Court. In order to be able to practice combat
in this apparel, the movements of
the original Yang Style had to be modified. Some suggest this is not true, and that the small movements were
traceable to the Small Frame of Yang Pan Hou. Because the movements were small and
compact, they appear to be quite
linear to onlookers who are nor familiar with the style.
The Yang and Wu exercise routine
follow the same sequence, generally.
Historically, these lineages
were very close to each other. For
many years, there was no
differentiation between the Yang and Wu Styles. There was close contact between the two
families and, for instance Wu Jian Quan and Yang Cheng Fu would practice
Pushing Hands together. It is said
that when Yang Cheng Fu was defeated in his ‘old age’ by the Mi
Tzung fighter, Wu Jian Quan
immediate issued a challenge and defeated the victor. (Yang Cheng Fu died at an early age of
53 only, having contracted the debilitating venereal disease syphilis in his
debauchery youth when he lived in the capital. His physical reactions, power and
nervous system would have been degenerating at the age of 50, at the time of the contest, so it is not a true reflection on his
Wu Jian Quan taught in the Physical
Education Institute in Beijing
together with Yang Cheng Fu. In the
1920's (when Yang Cheng Fu was standardizing the "Large Frame"), Wu
Jian Quan also also revising his family's forms by omitting some of the
repetitions, jumping and stamping movements, in order to make the forms smoother and
more structured. This form became
known to the modern world as the Wu style of Tai Chi Chuan, founded by Quan You. The original jumping and attacking
movements were retained in a fast form,
which is seldom taught. The
Wu style is characterized by its agility, lively footwork, and well-knit small
compact movements. The Wu and Yang
families remained close with mutual respect. For example, Wu Gong Yi, the son of Wu Jian Quan, studied with
Yang Shao Hou, the son of Yang
Wu Quan Yu taught the style to a
number of students, including his
son Wu Jian Quan (1870-1942),
who, in turn passed his teaching
on to his sons, Wu Kong Yi (Wu Kam
Yu) and Wu Kong Zao, and daughter
Wu Ying Hua, and to students such
as Ma Jiang Bao, Ma Yueh Liang, Wu Tu Nan, and Cheng Wing Kwong from whom many
of today's Wu Style students descend.
The Malaysian and Singapore lineage of Wu Style are
descended mainly from Cheng Wing Kwong.
Sifu John Chow’s Wu Style lineage descends from Cheng Wing Kwong
which came to Malaysia and Singapore. Robert Chow, in addition, also learnt from Cheng Yu Fook, who is probably Rocky Kwong’s
closest student. Rocky Kwong learnt
from Cheng Ting Hung who learnt from his uncle Cheng Wing Kwong.
The Wu style has maintained a fair
degree of cohesion and has not suffered the factionalism of the Yang
style. In China, the Shanghai
branch continued to popularize the Wu style in mainland China, led by Wu Jian Quan's
daughter Wu Ying Hua and son-in-law Ma Yue Liang. Their son, Ma Jiang Bao, carries on the family lineage.
In 1954 Wu Gong Yi, the son of Wu Jian Quan, fought a White
Crane master in Macau. For many followers, that match established Wu style Taichi
as a popular martial art. Schools
established in Macau, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia by Wu Gong Yi and his
sons Wu Da Kwai, Wu Da Qi and nephew Wu Da Xin became popular. Though Wu Gong Yi modified his father's
style slightly, his proven fighting
skills precluded any possible accusations of 'dilution'. (Although Cheng Tin
Hung disagree with this assessment).
The descendents of the Wu family
are still intact, and teaching
their family art.
Currently the Wu Style of Tai Chi
is second in popularity only to the Yang Style.
For more detailed information on
the historical development of these styles of Tai Chi see Peter Lim's fine
article: The Historical
Development Of Wu Jian Quan Style
Wu Kam Chan practicing Tai
Wu Kam Chan practicing Tai Chi.