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The Wu family style (simplified Chinese: ?? or ??; pinyin: wúshì or wújia) t’ai chi ch’uan (taijiquan) of Wu Ch’uan-yü (Wu Quanyuo) and Wu Chien-ch’üan (Wu Jianquan) is the second most popular form of t’ai chi ch’uan in the world today, after the Yang style, and fourth in terms of family seniority. This style is different from the Wu style of t’ai chi ch’uan (??) 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-yü (???, 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. At that time, Yang Lu-ch’an (???, 1799–1872) was the martial arts instructor in the Imperial Guards, teaching t’ai chi ch’uan, and in 1850 Wu Ch’uan-yü became one of his students.
In 1870, Wu Ch’uan-yü was asked to become the senior disciple of Yang Pan-hou (???, 1837-1890), Yang Lu-ch’an’s oldest adult son, and an instructor as well to the Manchu military. Wu Ch’uan-yü had three primary disciples: his son Wu Chien-ch’uan, Wang Mao Zhai and Guo Fen.
Wu Ch’uan-yü’s son, Wu Chien-ch’üan (???, 1870-1942), and grandchildren: grandsons Wu Kung-i (Wu Gongyi, ???, 1900-1970) and Wu Kung-tsao (Wu Gongzao, ???, 1902-1983) as well as granddaughter Wu Ying-hua (Wu Yinghua, ???, 1906-1996) were well known teachers. Wu Chien-ch’üan 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. He taught large numbers of people and his refinements to the art more clearly distinguish Wu style from Yang style training. Wu Chien-ch’üan 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 (??????) in 1935.` 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, ???, 1901-1999), staying behind to manage the original Shanghai school. 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. Ma Hai Long is the current head of the The Shanghai Jianquan Taijiquan Association. Ma Jiang Bao lives in the Netherlands and teaches traditional Taijiquan throughout Europe. Her adopted daughter Shi Mei Lin now lives and teaches Wu Style Taijiquan in New Zealand, with students also in France and The United States.
Wu Kung-i’s children were also full time martial art teachers: Wu Ta-k’uei (Wu Dakui, ???, 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. His younger brother, Wu Ta-ch’i (Wu Daqi, ???, 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. Wu Kung-i’s daughter, Wu Yen-hsia (Wu Yanxia, ???, 1930-2001), was known as an expert with the t’ai chi chien (sword), while her cousin, Wu Ta-hsin (Wu Daxin, ???, 1933-2005), was also known as a weapons specialist, particularly with the t’ai chi tao (sabre).
The Wu style’s distinctive hand form, pushing hands and weapons trainings emphasise 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.
Wu Ch’uan-yü (Quanyou, ???, 1834-1902), who learned from Yang Lu-ch’an and Yang Pan-hou, was senior instructor of the family from 1870-1902.
His oldest son, Wu Chien-ch’üan (Wu Jianquan, ???, 1870-1942), was senior from 1902-1942.
His oldest son, Wu Kung-i (Wu Gongyi, ???, 1900-1970) was senior from 1942-1970.