Wu Jianquan

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Wu Jianquan
StyleWu-style tai chi
Notable studentsWu Gongyi
Wu Gongzao
Wu Yinghua
Ma Yueliang
Cheng Wing Kwong
Wu Jianquan
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Wu Jianquan (Chinese: 吴鉴泉; pinyin: Wú Jiànquán; Wade–Giles: Wu Chien-ch‘üan; 1870–1942) was a famous teacher and founder of the neijia martial art of Wu-style tai chi in late Imperial and early Republican China.[1]


Wu Jianquan was taught martial arts by his father, Wu Quanyou, a senior student of Yang Luchan, and Yang Banhou.[1] Both Wu Jianquan and his father were hereditary Manchu cavalry officers of the Yellow Banner as well as the Imperial Guards Brigade, yet the Wu family were to become patriotic supporters of Sun Yat-sen.[2]

At the time of the establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1912, China was in turmoil, besieged for many years economically and even militarily by several foreign powers, so Wu Jianquan and his colleagues Yang Shaohou, Yang Chengfu and Sun Lutang promoted the benefits of tai chi training on a national scale. They subsequently offered classes at the Beijing Physical Culture Research Institute to as many people as possible, starting in 1914. It was the first school to provide instruction in the art to the general public. Wu Jianquan was also asked to teach the Eleventh Corps of the new Presidential Bodyguard as well as at the nationally famous Ching Wu martial arts school.

As the focus of tai chi teaching in his time changed from a strictly military art to a discipline made available to the general public, Wu Jianquan modified the teaching forms he learned from his father somewhat.[3] Wu Jianquan's changes to the initial forms shown to his students included smoothing overt expressions of fa jin, jumps and other abrupt time changes in the training routines in order to make those forms easier for the general public to learn.[3] These modified elements were preserved and taught in various advanced forms and pushing hands, however.

Wu Jianquan moved his family to Shanghai in 1928. In 1935, he established the Jianquan Taijiquan Association on the ninth floor of the Shanghai YMCA to promote and teach tai chi.[4] What he taught has since become known as Wu-style tai chi and is one of the five primary styles practised around the world.[2]

Jianquan Taijiquan Association schools have subsequently been maintained by Wu's descendants. He was succeeded as head of the Wu family system by his oldest son, Wu Gongyi, in 1942.[2] His second son, Wu Kung-tsao, also became a renowned tai chi master. Wu Gongyi moved the family headquarters to the Hong Kong school (established in 1937) in 1949.[2] Today the Association still has its international headquarters in Hong Kong and is currently managed by Wu's great-grandson, Wu Kuang-yu, with branches in Shanghai, Singapore, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Greece, Tahiti, and France.[2] Several of Wu's disciples also became well known tai chi teachers. Prominent in that number were the senior disciple, Ma Yueliang, Wu Tunan and Cheng Wing Kwong.[4] His daughter Wu Yinghua and her husband Ma Yueliang continued running the Shanghai Jianquan Taijiquan Association until their deaths in the mid 1990s.

Tai chi lineage tree with Wu-style focus[edit]


  • This lineage tree is not comprehensive, but depicts those considered the 'gate-keepers' & most recognized individuals in each generation of Wu-style.
  • Although many styles were passed down to respective descendants of the same family, the lineage focused on is that of the Wu style & not necessarily that of the family.

Solid linesDirect teacher-student.
Dot linesPartial influence
/taught informally
/limited time.
Dash linesIndividual(s) omitted.
Dash crossBranch continues.CHEN-STYLEZhaobao-style
Wang Lanting
2nd gen. Yang
Yang Jianhou
2nd gen. Yang
2nd gen. Yangjia Michuan
Yang Banhou
2nd gen. Yang
2nd gen.
Guang Ping Yang
Yang Small Frame
WU (HAO)-STYLEZhaobao He-style
Li-styleYang Shao-hou
3rd gen. Yang
Yang Small Frame
Wu Quanyou
1st gen. Wu
Qi Gechen
2nd gen. Wu
Xia Gongfu
2nd gen. Wu
Wu Jianquan
2nd gen. Wu
108 Form
Chang Yuanting
2nd gen. Wu
Guo Songting
2nd gen. Wu
Wang Maozhai
2nd gen. Wu
Dong Yingjie
4th gen. Yang
Qi Minxuan
3rd gen. Wu
Cheng Wing Kwong
3rd gen. Wu
Wu Yinghua
3rd gen. Wu
Wu Gongyi
3rd gen. Wu
Wu Kung-tsao
3rd gen. Wu
Ma Yueliang
3rd gen. Wu
Yang Yuting
3rd gen. Wu
Cheng Tin Hung
Wu Ta-k'uei
4th gen. Wu
Wu Yanxia
4th gen. Wu
Wu Daxin
4th gen. Wu
Li Liqun
4th gen. Wu
Wang Peisheng
4th gen. Wu
Wu Kuang-yu
5th gen. Wu
Luo Shuhuan
5th gen. Wu


  1. ^ a b Wile, Douglas (1995). Lost T'ai-chi Classics from the Late Ch'ing Dynasty (Chinese Philosophy and Culture). State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-2654-8.
  2. ^ a b c d e Yip, Y. L. (Autumn 2002). "Pivot". Qi: The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health and Fitness. Insight Graphics Publishers. 12 (3). ISSN 1056-4004.
  3. ^ a b Philip-Simpson, Margaret (June 1995). "A Look at Wu Style Teaching Methods - T'AI CHI The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Vol. 19 No. 3". T'ai Chi. Wayfarer Publications. ISSN 0730-1049.
  4. ^ a b Li, Liqun (October 1998). "A Remembrance of Ma Yueh-liang – T'AI CHI The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan Vol. 22 No. 5". T'ai Chi. Wayfarer Publications. ISSN 0730-1049.

External links[edit]