A Brief History of My Family

by

Grand Master Eddie Wu Kwong Yu

Current Head of Wu Family and Gatekeeper of the Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan (The Fifth Generation Grand Master)

 

My great, great grandfather Master Wu Chuan Yau (1834-1902) was the founder of Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan. He was a Manchurian member of the Imperial Guard in Beijing. He learned Tai Chi Chuan from the founder of Yang Style, Master Yang Lu-Chan. His area of specialization was neutralization. His eldest son, Master Wu Chien Chuan (1870-1942) was the second master of Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan. His influence on the development of the Wu Style was very significant. Master Wu Chien Chuan modified the forms taught to him by his father. He utilized a narrower circle and created many new ways to apply the form in a practical manner.

In 1924, Master Wu Chien Chuan, along with colleagues, Xi-Yiu Seng, Yang Shoa Hoa (Yang Shou Hou) and Yang Cheng Fu founded a famous martial arts school. This had an important effect in the practice of Tai Chi Chuan as it became available to the general public for the first time.

Master Wu Chien Chuan moved south to Shanghai in 1928. There he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Shanghai Martial Arts Association. Subsequently, he became the supervisor of the Tai Chi Chuan section of the famous Ching Wu Sports Association. In 1935, my great grandfather established the first Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan Academy in Shanghai.

Master Wu Kung Yi was the eldest son of the third generation. He was instrumental in establishing the spread of Tai Chi Chuan throughout the orient. In 1954, Master Wu Kung Yi responded to the controversy started by the newspaper in Hong Kong regarding the validity of Tai Chi Chuan as a martial art by agreeing to accept a challenge to fight another style of martial art. He put only one restriction on the match – that the proceeds of it be donated to charity. The contest of the two different styles of martial arts intrigued thousands who came to view it. Master Wu Kung Yi was fifty-three at that time, some twenty years older than his opponent. It soon became apparent to the committee overseeing the fight that the opponents were not mismatched and that the contest was a serious one indeed. At the completion of the second round, they ended the fight by voting it to be a draw. Master Wu Kung Yi had clearly demonstrated Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan as a formidable style of martial art.

In 1937 Master Wu Kung Yi and his oldest son Master Wu Tai Kwei also helped set up academies in Hong Kong and Macau while Master Wu Kung Cho moved south to Hong Kong to set up a Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan academy. After the Japanese army invaded Hong Kong the Wu family moved inland until the war ended. The Hong Kong Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan academy was headed up by Master Wu Kung Yi and the Macau academy by Master Wu Tai Kwei. These two centres developed large followings.

In the 1960’s, Master Wu Kung Yi taught Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan on television and sat on the Advisory Board of the Martial Art Association in Hong Kong.

Master Wu Kung Yi promoted the circular form into a new segmented form, a detailed, smaller circular 108 Form throughout Asia in the 1950’s.

Master Wu Kung Yi’s younger brother Master Wu Kung Cho was an expert in many facets of Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan such as Chi Kung (breathing techniques). He is especially known as being the first to write a book on Wu style Tai Chi Chuan. This book initially published in 1935 is a classic and has been published again in 1980 spreading the Wu family tradition throughout the world and will be published in English for the first time by the end of 2003. The content of the ‘Gold Book’ includes all the Wu Family Tai Chi Chuan secrets known and transmitted to each generation only. This information will now be freely passed on to all Wu Style Tai Chi practitioners worldwide. The book is scheduled to be available at the end of 2003.  In 1929 Master Wu Kung Cho left the Thirteenth Brigade of the Nationalist Revolutionary Army and headed to Shanghai to teach at the Ching Wu Association.

In 1937 Master Wu Kung Cho moved south to Hong Kong and set up a Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan academy. After the Japanese army invaded Hong Kong, the Wu family moved inland until the war was ended. The Hong Kong Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan Academy was headed up by Master Wu Kung Yi and the Macau Academy by Master Wu Tai Kwei. These two centres developed large followings.

Master Wu Ying Hua was the only daughter of Master Wu Chien Chuan who also influenced the development of Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan. She assisted in the operation of the Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan Academy in Shanghai. It was under her direction that the academy re-opened again in the late 1970’s under her supervision.
She started learning Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan at nine years old and started to teach when she was fifteen. At seventeen, she started to teach Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan at various places in Beijing. In 1921, she moved to Shanghai and started to teach Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan. In 1933, she became the vice-president of the Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan Academy.  After 1954, she became the chief instructor in the Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan section at the Physical Education Palace in Shanghai.

Over the years, Master Wu Ying Hua was often invited to demonstrate Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan and to judge WuShu competitions in China.  Master Wu Ying Hua passed away in 1997 at the age of 90 years old.

My father, Master Wu Tai Kwei was the eldest son of the fourth generation. He was a highly respected martial artist who continued the work of Master Wu Kung Yi in establishing Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan throughout the Orient. There were academies in Hong Kong, Kowloon, Macau, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia. The Japanese invited him in the nineteen fifties to introduce the style into Japan. He also brought Tai Chi Chuan to the mass media by often appearing on television in Hong Kong and Singapore. One of my father’s aspirations was to expand Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan into North America. However, he did not live to see that become a reality.

My uncle Master Wu Tai Chi and my aunt Master Wu Yan Hsia taught Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan throughout South East Asia and established an academy in Malaysia.

The Toronto Academy was started in 1975 by Master Wu Tai Chi when members of the Chinese community of Toronto, Canada invited Master Wu Tai Kwei to establish a Canadian Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan Academy branch. Master Wu Tai Kwei died before his wish became a reality and it passed on to his brother Master Wu Tai Chi and oldest son Master Eddie Wu. After spending one year in Toronto at the new Toronto Academy, he returned to Hong Kong in 1976 to continue to manage the Hong Kong Headquarters at the same time, the Toronto Academy was taken over by Master Eddie Wu. Master Wu Tai Chi sat on the Advisory Board of the Martial Art Association in Hong Kong.

Master Wu Yan Hsia migrated to Hong Kong from Shanghai in 1948.  She attended to the Academy affairs while training students and disciples. After the death of her brothers Master Wu Tai Kwei and Master Wu Tai Chi, she succeeded as the Chairman of the Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan Academy Headquarters. She had advocated practice of Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan all her life. She dedicated her whole being to the introduction and teaching of hereditary Chinese martial arts to both eastern and western communities, in and out of Hong Kong. Her disciples come from all over the world. Her efforts in spreading the good of Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan have flourished. The art of Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan is very well received in all parts of the world.

On the 15th of July 2001, my uncle Master Wu Tai Sin, 4th Generation of the Wu Family was acknowledged as the Head of the Wu Family and the Chairman of the International Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan Federation.  Master Wu Tai Sin was also the current President of the Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan Academy Headquarters in Hong Kong.

After the fight in Macau in 1954, various Chinese communities throughout Southeast Asia requested that branch academies be set up for them. Master Wu Kung Yi ordered his eldest son Master Wu Tai Kwei to set up a branch club on Nathan Road in Kowloon, while sending his second son Master Wu Tai Chi as well as Master Wu Kung Cho’s second son Master Wu Tai Sin to Singapore, Kuala Lumpor and Manila to set up branch academies

Master Wu Tai Sin had disciples all over the world and travelled several times into Canada and South East Asia Wu Style Clubs to teach and promote Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan.