Wu (Hao) style tai chi chuan

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The Wu or Wu (Hao) style (simplified Chinese: ?? or ?/??; pinyin: wushì or wu/haoshì) of t’ai chi ch’uan of Wu Yu-hsiang (???, 1813-1880), is a separate family style from the more popular Wu style (??) of Wu Chien-ch’üan. Wu Yu-hsiang’s style was third among the five t’ai chi ch’uan families in seniority and is fifth in terms of popularity.

Wu Yu-hsiang was a scholar from a wealthy and influential family who became a senior student (along with his two older brothers Wu Ch’eng-ch’ing and Wu Ju-ch’ing) of Yang Lu-ch’an. There is a body of writing attributed to Wu Yu-hsiang on the subject of t’ai chi theory, writings that are considered influential by many other schools not directly associated with his style. Wu Yu-hsiang also studied for a brief time with a teacher from the Ch’en family, Chen Ch’ing-p’ing, to whom he was introduced by Yang. His most famous student was his nephew, Li I-yü (???, 1832-1892), who also authored several important works on t’ai chi ch’uan. Li I-yü had a younger brother who was also credited as an author of at least one work on the subject of t’ai chi ch’uan, Li Ch’i-hsüan. Li I-yü taught Hao Wei-chen (???, 1842-1920), who taught his son Hao Yüeh-ru (???) who in turn taught his son Hao Shao-ju (Hao Shaoru, ???) Wu Yu-hsiang’s style of training, so that it is now sometimes known as Wu/Hao or just Hao style t’ai chi ch’uan. Hao Wei-chen also taught the famous Sun Lu-t’ang. Hao Yüeh-ru was teaching in the 1920s, a time when t’ai chi ch’uan was experiencing an initial degree of popularity, and he is known for having smoothed out (in the sense of under-emphasising jumps and snap kicks, etc.) and standardized the forms he learned from his father in order to more effectively teach large numbers of beginners. Other famous t’ai chi ch’uan teachers, notably Yang Ch’eng-fu, Wu Chien-ch’üan and Wu Kung-i, made similar modifications to their beginning level forms around the same time.

Wu Yu-hsiang’s t’ai chi ch’uan is a distinctive style with small, subtle movements; highly focused on balance, sensitivity and internal ch’i development. It is a rare style today, especially compared with the other major styles. While there are direct descendants of Li I-yü and Li Ch’i-hsüan still teaching in China, there are no longer Hao family members teaching the style. The last inheritor to learn under Hao Shao-ju currently living is Liu Jishun, who has many students around the globe but only two disciples in the United Kingdom.