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Part 5: The Development Of Wu Yu Xiang Style Taijiquan



The founder of this form of Taijiquan was Wu Yu Xiang (1812-1880) who was a native of Yung Nien, the home County of Yang-style founder, Yang Lu Chan. Wu Yu Xiang had two brothers, Wu Deng Qing (1800-1884) and Wu Ru Qing. Both brothers were officials in the Qing government. Wu Deng Qing was the magistrate of Wu Yang, a County in Henan Province, and Wu Ru Qing was a secretary in the Penalties Department under his older brother.

All three of the brothers were very interested in martial arts, having initially learned martial arts from their father. The main art learned was Shaolin Hung Boxing thus they had a good foundation in martial arts. When Yang Lu Chan started teaching Taijiquan at Yung Nien, the Wu brothers went to watch him. All three brothers were enthralled by Yang Lu Chan's skills and began studying under him. Wu Yu Xiang also became a tutor to Yang Lu Chan's sons, teaching them reading and writing13.

Later, Wu Yu Xiang went to seek out Yang Lu Chan's teacher Chen Chang Xin to further his skills, but instead ended up learning from Chen Qing Ping at the Zhao Bao village. (see later section on why he did so) Wu Yu Xiang had few pupils and his art was made famous mostly through the efforts of the Hao family who learned Wu Yu Xiang's Style of Taijiquan from his nephew, Li I Yu. Indeed, occasionally this style of Taijiquan is referred to as Hao style. Li I Yu is a important early recorder of Taiji material and his works are important references in any study on the origins and historical development of Taijiquan. Today, Wu Yu Xiang's Taijiquan is one of the major styles practiced though it is still relatively unknown in the West.

Wu Yu Xiang's Teacher Yang Lu Chan

Wu Yu Xiang's family owned the building which housed the Tai He Tang drug store run by the Chen family of Chen Jia Gou. It was there, many years before, that Yang Lu Chan had witnessed a scene, which led him to the Chen village to study under Chen Chang Xin. Yang Lu Chan also taught martial arts at the Tai He Tang after he returned from the Chen village following many years of study.

The Wu brothers on seeing Yang's consummate skill, went to study under him and learned what is now called the old Yang style of Taijiquan (see the later section on Wu Yu Xiang's early form). The Wu brothers also studied the Broadsword and the Long Staff/Spear under Yang Lu Chan.14

In an effort to better his skills, Wu Yu Xiang decided to travel to the Chen Village in 1852 to seek out Yang Lu Chan's teacher Chen Chang Xin. On the way there, he stayed at an inn in the Zhao Bao Village. There he spoke to the inn-keeper about his desire to go to the Chen Village to further his skills. The inn-keeper, desiring to earn more of Wu's money, sought to keep him in Zhao Bao Village telling him that Chen Chang Xin was old and sick (he eventually died the following year) and did not teach anymore, but that a highly skilled member of the Chen family was teaching martial arts in the Zhao Bao Village. That teacher was none other than Chen Qing Ping.

Wu Yu Xiang's Other Teacher Chen Qing Ping

Chen Qing Ping is recorded in Chen Xin's Chen Family Manual as being a student of Chen Yu Ben, who created the New Style of Chen Taijiquan. The style taught by Chen Qing Ping was also known as the Gao Jia or High Frame. The Zhao Bao Village records show that Chen Qing Ping also received instruction from Zhang Yan whose art had come down from Jiang Fa. So whether or not Chen Qing Ping founded Zhao Bao Taijiquan is in dispute with the Chen family claiming that he did and the Zhao Bao lineages claiming that he didn't. The postures of the Zhao Bao Village form does show resemblance to the Chen Taiji form, but the way the postures are executed has more of the flavor of other Taiji lineages.

Based on the inn keeper's information about Chen Chang Xin's health and Chen Qing Ping's skill, Wu Yu Xiang approached Chen Qing Ping and studied under him for forty days, gaining a new understanding of the art. When he returned he modified his form to include skills he learned from his second teacher, as well as with the ideas found in Wang Tsung Yueh's Taijiquan Classic, which his brother had discovered in a salt store. (See later section about Wu Yu Xiang's later form)


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