Smiling Tiger website, which is run by Joe Crandall, a senior Chinese Martial Arts teacher and noted translator in the Bay Area. The article is a translation of one that ran in a Chinese martial arts magazine. The full article may be read here. An excerpt appears below. Please pay a visit to read the original.
Wú Quan You, the Founder of Wú Style
Information taken from an article in Wudang Magazine 2000.6 #118
By Xin Xilan and Gu Ziyuan
Wu Style Taijiquan founder, Quan You (1834-1902) was from an aristocratic
Manchu family that was famous for its martial skills. Quan You Gong was
a military officer in a banner camp in Beijing during the Qing Dynasty.
At that time, Yang Luchan Gong (1799-1872) was the martial arts instructor
in the banner camp, teaching Taijiquan. In the camp, there were many
officers studying with Yang Luchan, but only three men, Wan Chun, Ling
Shan and Quan You studied diligently and trained hard enough at Taijiquan
and to deeply get what Yang Luchan had to teach. They got his true
However, they declined to be listed as Mr. Yang Luchan’s
students, and asked to be enrolled as students of his son Yang Banhou (1837-1892).
The original reason is given below:
Mr Yang Luchan, also known as Fukui, was from Yongnian Hebei.
He studied Taijiquan in Chenjiakou, Wen County, Henan from Chen Changxing
(1771-1853). He studied with Changxing for 20 years and received
the true teachings. When Yang returned home, he began to teach the
local people there.
Then the founder of Wu Style Taijiquan, Wu Yuxiang
(1812-1880), started studying with him. Mr Wu did not study with Yang for
long and only knew the rough outline of Taiji. Wu’s brother, Wu Chengqing,
was the county administrator of Jiuyang County in Henan. He knew that there
was a Taiji teacher in Zhaobao Village named Chen Qingping. They
had supressed a rebellion in the area together. Mr Chen was very grateful.
Therefore when Wu Yuxiang went to Zhaobao village to seek instruction.
He received the true teaching and martial principles of Chen Qingping’s
Taijiquan. Later he became the founder of Wu Style Taijiquan, which
he transmitted to Li Yiyu (1832-1890). At the same time, Yang Luchan’s
son, Yang Panhou also studied with Mr Wu. Therefore Yang Banhou received
the true teachings from both his father, Yang Luchan, and from Wu Yuxiang.
At that time, Wu Yuxiang’s brother, Wu Ruqing (Wu had two brothers,
Wu Chengqing and Wu Ruqing) was a successful candidate for the highest
imperial office. In the capitol, he served the Lang.
There were comparatively
many princes and ministers coming and going. He heard that they were
looking for a martial arts teacher and invited Yang Luchan to come to the
palace. There Yang taught Taijiquan to Shi Shaonan. He had another student,
General Yue Guichen. He was a military man of good family and had heard
of Yang. When Yang arrived at the palace to teach Taijiquan, these
two men officially asked Yang Luchan to teach them. At this time,
there were many princes who came to learn Taijiquan but most did not have
perseverance and they did not officially ask to be students.
Wang Lanting, a resident of the Lei Palace studied Taijiquan with Yang
Gong. At that time Wan Chun, Ling Shan and Quan You were middle grade officers
in the Banner camp. Because of their rank, they could not be seen
as fellow classmates with nobility. On Yang Luchan’s orders, Quan
You is listed as studying under Yang Banhou for three years. Therefore
these three men not only got Yang Luchan’s true teachings, but also got
Yang Banhou’s true teachings. Thus they also got knowledge of the essence
of Wu Style Taijiquan.
General Yue Guichen later died fighting in battle. He never had
any students. Shi Shaonan’s achievements in Taijiquan were great
and Yang Luchan loved him very much. Unfortunately he developed smallpox
at 41 years old and because of his old age returned to Yongnian to take
care of his health. Mr. Luchan was broken hearted. When Quan You
retired from the military, he set up a school in Beijing. It had a good
reputation. People called him Quan Sanye (3rd Uncle). Ling Shan wrote down
a history. And Wan Chun was never known to have had students.
The frame that Quan You was teaching at this time, is known as Wú
Style Fast Frame. When training, there is fast and there is slow.
There is issuing energy. There is jumping and leaping. The
so-called agility has 4 interdependencies: The mutual interplay of
hard and soft. Pauses and transitions are mutually interspersed.
Fast and slow are mutually together. Front and back are mutually
connected. The whole frame is performed in 6 to 8 minutes.
Wú style Fast Frame is the frame that Yang Luchan taught. After
Yang Luchan got Taijiquan from Chen Changxing, he designed the Taijiquan
skill frame according to his own experience. And at the same time
Wu Yuxiang was getting Taijiquan from Chen Qingping of Zhaobao village
and creating the Wu Style Taijiquan skill frame. Yang Luchan taught
his skill frame to his sons, Banhou and Jianhou (1839-1917), Shi Shaonan,
Yue Guichen, Quan You, Wan Chun, Ling Shan, Wang Lanting etc. Then
Jianhou’s sons, Shaohou (1862 – 1930) and Chengfu (1883 – 1936) and Quan
You’s son Jianquan. (1870 – 1942) each practiced this fist frame.
Mr. Yang Chengfu changed the Yang Style Taijiquan skill frame according
to his own body type and nature. This was called the new frame or big frame
and the original skill frame was called the old frame, small frame, or
quick frame. After Yang Chengfu created his own fist frame, he no
longer practiced or taught the small frame. But his 21 year older brother
Shaohou, only practiced small frame, or quick frame until the time he died.
He never practiced Chengfu’s frame. (Shaohou mainly studied with
his uncle Banhou. When Chengfu was born, his grandfather Luchan had
already been dead 11 years. When Banhou died Chengfu was 9 years
old. When he was 34, his father Jianhou died. Therefore Chengfu mainly
studied with his father and his training was different than Shaohou’s.)