The Origin of Wu Tai Chi

Wu is one of the five styles of Tai Chi Chuan. The Wu Style was founded by Master Wu Jianquan (1870 – 1942). He was taught martial-arts by his father Wu Quanyou, a student of Yang Luchan, from the time he was young. After long years of practicing and teaching, Master Wu revised and enriched the art of Tai Chi Chuan handed down from his family. Since this time Wu Tai Chi has retained the tradition with it’s slow form, fast form, broadsword form, spear and double edge sword form and the extensive system of pushing hands.

Wu Yinghua (1907-1997), the daughter of Wu Jianquan, and her husband Ma Yueliang (1901-1998) dedicated their lives to the development and popularization of Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan. Their son Master Ma Jiangbao moved to Holland in the Mid 80’s and his system of Tai Chi has been so popular as to build an extensive network of schools in Holland, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Poland, South Africa, Japan  and London and Sheffield in England.



Composure – Jìng

The conscience/awareness is highly focused and the nerve centres are in a state of excitement. The respiration is regular, the Qi has sunken into Dan Tian. This is called the composure of the body. The movements are light, dexterous, supple, and flowing, without jerks. This is referred to as the composure of the heart / soul. Both the body and the soul are relaxed. This is referred to as the composure of the spirit. The notion of finding the composure in the movement is described in a classic: “From composure comes movement but the movement maintains its composure. […] The element of surprise is achieved though tuning in on the enemies”.



Lightness – Quing

Lightness is not be understood exclusively as not using any force during Tai Chi Chuan. Lightness is complementary to weight. In the classic “Tai Chi Chuan Jing” it says: “Tai Chi comes from nothing (Wu Ji). It is the connection between movement and composure and the mother of Yin and Yang.” In particular: “The entire body should be light and supple in all movements as if its parts were beads on a string. Qi should be unfolded. The spirit should be contained inside.” Lightness means that you cannot use sudden force since this hinders the flowing of one movement into another. Furthermore, one should avoid “double weight” since it hinders the distinction between empty and full. Lightness can also be described with the term “suppleness”. And lightness and suppleness are not to be seen as limpness. Limpness and use of force are the so-called “double weight” which is the greatest taboo in Tai Chi Chuan.



Slowness – Màn

Slowness does not mean immobility. It entails the flowing of movements without interruptions and demands proceeding methodically in accordance with the principles. Slowness means: “The answer to a rapid movement is rapid, a sedate movement is followed sedately.” Every movement must be precise and perfect. During training the movements should flow uninterrupted “like the Yangtse to the Sea”.



Conscientiousness – Qiè

There are two aspects: Firstly one should perform each movement conscientiously and secondly you should try be earnest and steady with your training, directing your effort to every single movement. Conscientiousness demands your study and scrutiny. As the forefathers said:“As if cut, as if filed, as if carved, as if polished”. During each exercise you should check the correctness of your own movements precisely and conscientiously. Only in this way can progress be made.



Perseverance – Héng

Perseverance first and foremost means persistence. Whether or not the weather is cold or burning hot, you should train regularly. It is a process of testing the character and strength of mind of the student. Furthermore, perseverance means a constant quality, i.e. a certain intensity must be achieved. Only the person who trains under the motto “A pestle can be honed into a needle with an iron will” can learn the true essence of Tai Chi Chuan.

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