Grandmaster Wu Chien Chuan

Born 1870 – Passed 1942


Master Wu Chien Chuan (1870-1942) is the son of Master Quan Yu (1834-1902), the founder of the Wu school of Tai-Chi Chuan.

Wu Chien Chuan trained a portion of the palace guards for emperors in the Ching dynasty. After the resignation of the last emperor, Pu Yi, Master Wu was named the military instructor and martial arts counselor for the body guards of president Yi Yuan Hong in 1914.

Wu Chien Chuan did a lot to popularize the art of tai-chi chuan during the course of his life. A skilled rider and accomplished archer, he maintained a strong relationship with the members Yang school headed by Master Yang Lu Chan, who taught Tai-Chi Chuan to Wu Chien Chuan‘s father. Additionally, Wu Chien Chuan often practiced push hands with many masters, including Master Yang Cheng Fu.

Master Wu created the first academy for the Wu school of Tai-Chi Chuan in Shanghai in 1935 and named his son-in-law, Master Ma Yu Liang, vice president.

Today, the Wu school of Tai-Chi Chuan de Wu is the second most popular school in the world just after the Yang school.

There are accounts that Ma was a gifted martial artist in his youth. He had studied a number of Martial Arts including, Shaolinquan, Pào Chuí Three Emperors Pao Chui, Baguazhang and Tong Bei Quan. However, Wu Jianquan would accept Ma as a student only if he concentrated on Wu-style Taijiquan. From about age 18, Ma exclusively studied Wu-style Taijiquan. Wu Jianquan started the Jianquan Taijiquan Association (鑑泉太極拳社) in Shanghai in 1936, and Ma became the deputy director of the Association. Ma studied Taijiquan with Wu Chien-Ch’uan until the death of his teacher in 1942. The Jianquan Association still exists today internationally and remains a resource for the study of Wu-style Taijiquan.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of Ma Yu Liang and his wife Wu Ying Hua the daughter of Wu Chien Chuan in the emergence of Wu-style Taijiquan after the Cultural Revolution in China. Even at an advanced age, Ma was chosen as one of the 100 Best Martial Artists in China. Wu Ying Hua and Ma continued to teach in Taijiquan until their deaths. They published several books on Wu-style Taijiquan. Ma and Wu Ying Hua’s Wu style sword/weapons book includes a family picture with several of their closest students. Ma Yu Liang also publicly practiced a number of formerly closed door (private or family secret) forms and methods so that they would not be lost. In public, Wu Ying Hua would often demonstrate the Wu style Slow Set and Ma would follow by demonstrating the Wu Style Tai Chi Fast Form. Ma taught many high level students, among whom was Fei Gua Ching who is still active in the Jianquan Taijiquan Association in Shanghai. Li Li-Qun is one of Grandmaster Ma’s oldest and closest living students. He was the deputy vice-secretary of the Jianquan Association (Chien Chuan Association) in Shanghai under masters Ma and his wife Wu Ying Hua.

Wu style T’ai Chi Ch’uan lineage tree

GM Wu Chien Chuan taught Master Ma Yu Liang and Master Wu Ying Hua who taught Wu-style Taijiquan to Shifu Wen Mei Yu also in the United States which is taught Shifu Marquez.