Wu style Tai Chi Chuan belongs to the five traditional Tai Chi styles and stems from the Wu family in Shanghai (吴家). Other Tai Chi styles are much more popular; they include Tai Chi traditions from the family Yang (杨家), Chen (陈家), Sun (孙家), and Wu (武家).
Although they are all called Tai Chi, they differ in terms of positions in the forms and approaches to the pushing hands exercises. The Wu style is relatively young, and fortunately a lot of the traditional forms are still taught.
The inner beauty of this art form can only be experienced by learning it accompanied by regular training and practice. Wu style Tai Chi Chuan is a complete form and its traditional system includes a wide variety of different exercises which are all connected to each other. Basically there are two different exercises:
Solo Forms (with and without weapons)
Partner exercises ( Tui Shou=Pushing Hands)
The forms are defined sequences of certain movements which comprise all important principles of natural movement. By learning and exercising the forms one also trains one’s power of concentration and learns the ability to calm the mind.
The purpose of partner exercises is to get a feeling for the partner’s directions of movement while staying in contact with him and using one’s hands and arms in order to be able to react to any of his offensive attempts.
Inner martial arts
The different Asian martial arts systems can be roughly divided in two groups, the inner school and the outer school. The two terms inner and outer derive from the main focus of each groups’ traditional system. Styles of the outer school emphasize the role of muscle power, speed and hardness in movement while the inner school focuses on the cultivation of inner power and defensiveness. It should not be forgotten however that each style has of the other as part of its training.
Tai Chi Chuan is part of the inner school with its philosophical background based on Daoism and Neo-Confucianism. During the last century the aspect of fighting has more and more taken a back seat, so today the aspects of health, meditation and body self-cultivation have come to the fore. Despite this change of emphasis almost all of the traditional methods and exercises are cultivated in the Wu style Tai Chi Chuan.