Wu Style T'ai Chi Chu'an
Wu Ch'uan-yu started studying T'ai Chi Ch'uan in his capacity as an officer cadet of the Palace Battalion of the Ch'ing (Qing) dynasty's Imperial Guards under Yang Lu-ch'an (1799-1872) in 1850. He became a disciple of Yang's son, Yang Pan-hou (1837-1890) and was known as a specialist in the "soft" neutralisation of incoming attacks. He was given permission by the Yangs to teach his own students in 1870.
An important T'ai Chi school founded by disciples of Wu Ch'uan-yu that teaches the Northern Wu style has also become popular and is well-respected internationally. Wu Ch'uan-yu's son, Wu Chien-ch'uan, and his grandchildren: grandsons Wu Kung-i (1900-1970) and Wu Kung-tsao (1902-1983) as well as granddaughter Wu Ying-hua (1906-1996) were well known teachers.
Wu Chien-ch'uan became the most famous teacher in the family, and is therefore considered the co-founder of the Wu style. He was, along with his colleagues Yang Shao-hou (1862-1930), Yang Ch'eng-fu (1883-1936) and Sun Lu-t'ang (1861-1932), among the first teachers to ever provide instruction in the art of T'ai Chi Ch'uan to the general public at the Beijing Physical Culture Institute from 1914 until 1928. Wu Chien-ch'uan taught large numbers of people and his refinements to the art over his career more clearly distinguished Wu style from Yang style training. Wu Chien-ch'uan moved his family south from Beijing to Shanghai in 1928, where he founded the family teaching organisation and became supervisor of the T'ai Chi Ch'uan section of the famous Ching Wu school in Shanghai.
Wu Kung-tsao opened the first Wu family academy in Hong Kong in 1937. Wu Kung-i then moved the family headquarters to the Hong Kong school opened by his brother in 1948, his younger sister Wu Ying-hua and her husband, Ma Yueh-liang (1901-1999), remaining in charge of the Shanghai school. Wu Ying-hua's sons today manage the Shanghai school as well as several schools in Europe. Wu Kung-i's children were also full time T'ai Chi teachers: Wu Ta-kuei (1923-1970) was active in the resistance to the Japanese invasion of China, yet he later taught T'ai Chi in Japan after the war. His younger brother, Wu Ta-chi (1926-1993), supervised the family's Hong Kong and southeast Asian schools for many years and opened the family's first Western school in Toronto, Canada in 1974. Wu Kung-i's daughter, Wu Yan-hsia (1930-2001), was the senior instructor of the Wu family for five years after the passing of Wu Ying-hua, and was known as an expert with the chien (sword).
Wu style training
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 Ch'en 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, wrestling and other groundfighting technique; 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. Although historically derived from the Yang style, the Wu style has a unique appearance to observers.
Wu Chien-ch'uan's descendants continue to teach in Asia, North America and Europe.
List of the senior instructors for the Wu family style T'ai Chi Ch'uan
1. Wu Ch'uan-yu, 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'uan, founded the Chien-ch'uan T'ai Chi Ch'uan Association, in 1935 and was senior instructor of his family from 1902-1942.
3. His oldest son, Wu Kung-i was senior from 1942-1970.
4. Wu Kung-i's younger brother, Wu Kung-tsao, was senior from 1970-1983.
5. Wu Kung-i's younger sister, Wu Ying-hua, was senior from 1983-1997.
6. Wu Kung-i's daughter, Wu Yan-hsia, was senior from 1997-2001.
7. Wu Kung-tsao's son, Wu Ta-hsin (1933-2005) was a specialist in weapons training, and was president of the Chien-ch'uan T'ai Chi Ch'uan Association internationally from 2001 until he passed away in January 2005.
8. The current senior instructor of the Wu family is Wu Ta-kuei's son Wu Kuang-yu(Eddie Wu, born 1945).