What is Wu Tai Chi?

A. Leverkuhn

Wu tai chi is a specific kind of tai chi martial arts practiced by many all over the world. Experts identify five primary styles of tai chi, including Wu tai chi, that make up the bulk of traditional authenticity for this form of exercise. Tai chi, as a fitness activity, focuses on a “yin and yang” balance that helps users to improve poise, balance, agility, core strength, and more for meeting physical challenges.

The Wu tai chi style emphasizes controlled movements.
The Wu tai chi style emphasizes controlled movements.

The activity called tai chi or “taiji chuan,” transliterated from Chinese, is an ancient type of martial art that incorporates defensive moves and other kinds of movements that mimic nature; this includes other conceptual positions and movements. The main kinds of tai chi are based on the original families in China that first developed their practice. The Wu tai chi style developed from the Wu family during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Experts point out a distinction between the Wu Family style and a Wu (Hao) tai chi style.

Tai chi helps users to improve balance and agility.
Tai chi helps users to improve balance and agility.

The general, Wu tai chi style emphasizes small, controlled movements to focus on “internal chi” or body energy, as well as balance and sensitivity to motion. Experts point out that this approach is relatively rare among other styles favoring broader movements. Many Wu tai chi moves include smaller motions like partial extension of one limb, and arm motions centering back to positions near the torso.

More research on Wu tai chi shows how tai chi moves in different styles have evolved with some degree of collaboration. Historical evidence indicates that the originator of the Wu Hao style practiced at some point with members of the Chen family, who developed the Chen tai chi style that is also common today. Members of the Hao family are credited with making certain kinds of tai chi moves smoother and more compact.

Although there are general kinds of traits identified with Wu tai chi style, as these kinds of historical tai chi practices evolved and made their way to other parts of the world, they have undergone some levels of transformation. Different tai chi instructors draw on their own resources, and may present varying forms of Wu tai chi. Those interested in drawing more detailed pictures of this tai chi practice can learn from designated masters or refer to historical sources that still show a lot of what was done in past centuries.

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