Grand Master Wu Ye Xiang (1812-1880)
Wu (Hao) Tai Chi Quan was first invented by Grand Master Wu Ye Xiang during the era of Emperor Xian Feng, Qing Dynasty.
Wu Ye Xiang (1812 – 1880) was born in the Wu family in Kwang Fu county, Roeng Nean city, Her Bei Province, China. His name at birth was Her Qing but he was later also known as Ye Xiang. He and his two elder brothers Wu Cheng Ching and Wu Yu Ching were born in a well-to-do family. They were all well educated. Both his elder brothers were high ranked civil sevants in other cities. Wu Ye Xiang was a scholar. He stayed in his hometown working as a teacher and spent a lot of time studying Tai Chi Quan. The three brothers had been dedicated novices in both literature and martial art when they were young. And their dedications never diminished. His family was wealthy, owning two teashops on the East and West streets in the city. Later, the West street shop was let to Chen Ter Hu whose origin was from Chen county, Wen city, Her Nan Province, to open a Chinese medicine shop named Tai Her Tang.
During the era of Emperor Tao Kwong, one of Wu Ye Xiang’s close friends who stayed in the same village was Yang Lu Chan (1799-1872), the founder of Yang Style Taichiquan. He came back after studying taichi martial art at Chen County (Chen Chia Kow), Wen city, Her Nan Province. Wu Ye Xiang had the chance to practice Tai Chi Quan with Yang Lu Chan many times. However, he felt that Yang Lu Chan still could not comprehend the real core of Taichiquan, and the only way to find out was to meet his master himself. During the second year of Xian Feng Governor era (1852), his elder brother Wu Cheng Ching (1800-1884) passed a test and became a "Jin Sue" (an official scholar title), and was appointed to be a city governor of Wu Yang city, Her Nan province. One day, his mother requested that Wu Ye Xiang visit his brother at Wu Yang. While travelling, Wu Ye Xiang decided to stop by Chen county in order to meet Chen Chang Xing (1771-1853) who was Yang Lu Chan’s Master. However, when he arrived at Chen county, he found that Chen Chang Xing had already passed away (he died at the age of 82).
Later, he was recommended by the owner of Tai Her Tang Chinese medicine shop in Yong Nean county that there was a martial art expert in Chao Pao county named Chen Ching Ping who was very excellent in Tai Chi Quan and that it was very difficult to find someone of his calibre. Therefore, he decided to go to the county and practice with Chen Ching Ping. After only one and a half months of practicing, he could complete Tai Chi Quan both theoratically and its in-depth sophisticated principles. In addition, he also got an ancient Tai Chi Quan book written by Wang Jeong Yeh from his brother who found the book secretly stored in a salt shop in Wu Yang city. After Wu Ye Xiang came back to Kwang Fu, he began to study from the book carefully. After a while, he had many chances to fight against many big and strong martial artists. All of them were defeated by Wu Ye Xiang. This is an important evidence of the Tai Chi Quan power that he had been practicing. Two years after studying and practicing Tai Chi Quan on his own, his skill improved to a very high level.
Wu Ye Xiang discovered many important rules of Tai Chi Quan from his own practice and understood the core knowledge of the ancient internal martial art book thoroughly. He also incorporated his experience from his own practice with other knowledge such as the Arts of Wars, full-empty-true-false theory, knowledge of Chinese medical Qigong line in the human body, Taoist and Tui-na healthcare method, holding and releasing fighting power as well as promptness of lifting and releasing. After many years of analyzing with full efforts, he founded Wu Style taichiquan, his martial art skill became extraordinary.
In addition, Wu Ye Xiang also used Tai Chi Quan Theory and principle to develop a set of posture of Tai Chi Quan that combined both martial and health aspects together. He also developed a set of Sabre Postures of Wu (Hao) Tai Chi Quan, a set of Thirteen Postures sword of Wu (Hao) Tai Chi Quan, 13 Postures of Long spear of Wu (Hao) Tai Chi Quan, attacking and defending spear, Long sabre and long sabre fighting posture set, development of pushing hand with footwork by stepping back three and a half steps and forward three and a half steps, and the most important is Wu Style Taichiquan which has been uniquely developed in accordance with Taichiquan theory and principle. In addition, he wrote many books about principle and theory of Taichiquan such as thirteen postures practice, an explanation of Taichiquan, the principle of important theory on taichiquan, an explanation of thirteen postures, four secret key words of Taichiquan, eight important secrets of Taichi postures, the important things in hand pushing etc. All these books and writings were famous martial arts foundatons and became perfect educational references for learning Taichiquan. They were the results of the great devotion of the Grand Master in order to develop a perfect Taichiquan theory which remains unsurpassable until now.
Gu Liu Xiang, the great famous martial artist said about Wu Ye Xiang’s works that they are short but very precise and accurate. Wu Ye Xiang had only one disciple which was his own nephew named Li Ye Yi.