The Birth of Taijiquan

A conversation with Master Wu Wenhan

By Dave Barrett, Translated by Yang Jun

journal-25_page13_image2Dave Barrett: In America many people are unfamiliar with the Wu/Hao style of Taijiquan. I wanted to begin by asking you to describe the differences between Yang style and Wu/Hao style Taijiquan.

Wu Wenhan: Let me answer your question in two parts. First let me tell our why our style is called Wu/Hao. In the middle of the Qing dynasty in Hebei Province, Yongnian County, Guangfu town had two famous Taiji masters; one was Yang Luchan (1799-1873), and the other Wu Yuxiang (1813-1880). Let me tell you how Wu Yuxiang created his style. Master Wu’s family was in service to the government and Wu Yuxiang had placed highly in the Imperial examination. In the Wu family, the men were highly placed civil servants, almost like generals. At that time Yang Luchan returned from his studies with Chen Changxin. So Yang Luchan’s job was teaching Taijiquan in his hometown and he and Wu Yuxiang became good friends. At this time there was no special term for Taijiquan. The Chen style was referred to as Long Fist, in Yongnian County the termwas Cotton Fist or Sticking Fist. So after Master Wu Yuxiang learned from the Yang family, he went back to Wenxian County, Zhaobao town and found a master named Chen Qingping (1795-1868). During that time Wu Yuxiang’s brother, Wu Changxin found a book in a salt shop by Wang Zongyue called the Taiji Classics. So he gave this book to Wu Yuxiang and he brought it back to his hometown. From this point both Yang Luchan and Wu Yuxiang began to follow the theories in this book, also they brought their local culture and martial styles together. Actually, they also combined what they had learned from Chen Changxin and Chen Qinping, they combined many things together with the theory of Wang Zongyue to create a new martial art we now call Taijiquan. Later on Yang Luchan went to Beijing and began teaching and from this point Taijiquan began to spread out.

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A Conversation with Master Chen Zhenglei

By Dave Barrett, translated by Master Yang Jun


Master  Chen Zhenglei was  born  in 1949 into a family with over 300 years of martial arts tradition. He is widely recognized as one of the leading  exponents  of  Chen  Style  Taijiquan  in  the  world today. His Uncle, Chen Zhaopei (1893-1972), was his main instructor   along   with   another    Uncle:  Chen  Zhaokui (1928-1981), the  son of Chen Fa-ke. Chen Zhaopei left his home village, Chenjiagou, in 1914 and established himself in Beijing as a martial arts instructor.  The story goes  that  he set  up  a platform  at  one  of Beijing’s main gates  and  for seventeen days  accepted all challenges,  either  single  or multiple, and  was victorious in every fight. Displaying his deep skills and magnanimous character  in victory made his reputation and for the next 30 years he taught in a variety of places  across  China. In 1958 he returned  to Chenjiagou to find the old training halls abandoned and his relatives engaged  in a struggle  to  survive a series  of natural  and political disasters that had devastated the surrounding farmlands and reduced  the villagers to a pitiful state. Recognizing that the future of his family’s illustrious traditions hung  in the  balance,  he  moved  back  to  Chenjiagou and began to revive the training regimens that had produced  so many generations of excellent  martial artists.  Persevering through famines and political upheavals gradually the next generation began to emerge under his careful guidance. Out of this group of students came “The Four Tigers of Chenjiagou”: Chen Xiaowang, Wang Xian, Zhu Tiancai, and Chen Zhenglei; all of whom have  gone  on  to  revive and expand the prestige  of Chen Style Taijiquan.

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New Instructors and Schools March 2014

Congratulations to the following new

Certified Instructors

Paula Faro, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Valentina Marinai, Florence, Italy
Emilia De Giuli, Florence, Italy
Elaine Cooper, Troy, Michigan
and Edyta Piatkowska-Wu, Lyon, France

Affiliated Instructor

Cosimo Mancini, Milan, Italy

Affiliated Schools

Tai Chi Ottawa, Laird A. Trimble, Ottawa, Canada.
Greg Miller  and Jayne Miller, Dubuque, Iowa.