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The Family Takes On The Wu Name

After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, in order to integrate into the predominant Han population, Quan Yu adopted a Han surname Wu for his family. Thus in some references he is referred to simply as Quan Yu and some refer to him as Wu Quan Yu. The Manchus were not well regarded by the Han people because they were the foreign ruling race which had conquered the Han ruled Ming Dynasty. The move to integrate into the Han race was important during that period of time when hatred against the ruling non-Han races was a very real thing.

The style was not taught publicly until Xu Yu Sheng, Yang Jian Hou's disciple established his association in Beijing and invited Wu Jian Quan to teach there. Quan Yu taught his son martial arts from a young age and Wu Jian Quan grew up an accomplished martial artist skilled in more than just Taijiquan.

The Great Master Of The Style Wu Jian Quan

Wu Jian Quan was born into a martial arts family. His father had earned his living as a bodyguard in the Imperial Court. This meant that his father was a professional martial artist whose skills were his means of livelyhood. So martial arts was very much the `family trade'. His father had trained under the great Yang Lu Chan, founder of the Yang style, and also under Yang Ban Hou, Yang Lu Chan's son. The form practiced by Quan Yu was the Yang style Small Frame but way back then, the division into the major styles had not yet taken place and the art was simply known as the small frame of Yang Lu Chan.

Wu Jian Quan achieved a very high level of skill in the art of Taijiquan and was also an accomplished archer and equestrian. He also practiced with members of the Yang family and maintained a close relationship with them. He and Yang Cheng Fu would practice Push Hands together and Wu Jian Quan used to call him `Third Uncle' because in terms of lineage generations, Yang Cheng Fu was his senior by one generation. In fact, before the Wu Jian Quan style became considered as an independent style, there was no differentiation between the two families. This close association and non-distinction between these two great Taiji styles can be seen by Wu Jian Quan's sending his son, Wu Kong Yi, to study under Yang Shao Hou.

The Wu Jian Quan Transmission Becomes An Independent Style

There is an interesting story on how the Yang Small Frame practiced by the Wu family became an independent style. The relationship between both families was a close one and it was never the intention for the two families to form independent styles of Taijiquan. This division occured when both Wu Jian Quan, Yang Cheng Fu and Yang Shao Hou were teaching in Chen Wei Ming's Zhi Rou Association in Shanghai.

The Secretary General of the association at the time, who was also a government official, was Chu Ming Yi. Chu initially studied under Yang Cheng Fu. During some Push Hands demonstrations which he did with Yang Cheng Fu, he had expected Yang to give him `face' because of his position as Secretary General and to allow him to appear skillful during the demonstration. Yang, however, regarded people by skill and not status and unceremoniously bounced him out repeatedly a great distance.

Feeling insulted by this incident, he changed from studying from Yang Cheng Fu to studying under Wu Jian Quan. Because of this he promoted Wu Jian Quan and his Taijiquan vigourously whilst not promoting Yang Cheng Fu so much. This resulted in the public regarding Wu Jian Quan's form and Yang Cheng Fu's form as independent styles of Taijiquan. Despite this, the relationship between both families remained close.



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