Wu Style Tai Chi
Tai Chi is one of the best known martial arts of the Internal systems from ancient China. Based on Qigong and martial art techniques from thousands of years ago, Chen Wangting developed the Chen Style Tai Chi around 1670. It is characterized by contrasting and complimentary movements-slow and soft versus fast and hard. It contains explosive power and low stances. Chen style is more difficult and physically demanding than Sun style; thus it is not the best style to start with if you have arthritis.
Yang Lu-chan learned Tai Chi from the Chen village. He later modified it with higher stances, gentle and slow movements, making it much more suitable for more people.
From Yang and Chen style, three other major styles developed – Wu, Hao, and Sun. Each of these styles share similar essential principles, but contain different features and characteristics. Sun, the latest style, is most suitable for people with arthritis.
Tai Chi, also known as Shadow Boxing, is one of the major branches of the traditional Chinese martial arts. Its name is derived from the philosophical term, "Tai Chi," the first known written reference of which appeared in the Book of Changes over 3000 years ago during the Zhou Dynasty (1100-1221 BC). In this book it says that "in all changes exists Tai Chi, which causes the two opposites in everything." Tai Chi means the ultimate of ultimate, often used to describe the vastness of the universe.
The essential principles of Tai Chi are based on the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism, which stresses the natural balance in all things and the need for living in spiritual and physical accord with the patterns of nature. According to this philosophy, everything is composed of two opposite, but entirely complementary, elements of yin and yang, working in a relationship which is in perpetual balance. Tai Chi consists of exercises equally balanced between yin and yang, which is why it is so remarkably effective.
Yin and yang are polar opposites and are found in all things in life. In nature, everything tends toward a natural state of harmony. Likewise, yin and yang are always in total balance. Concepts such as soft, pliant, yielding and feminine are associated with yin, while concepts such as hard, rigid and masculine are associated with yang. Both sides complement each other completely and together form a perfect whole. Things which are perfectly balanced and in harmony are at peace; being at peace leads naturally to longevity. A perfectly harmonised person will show this balance and completeness by his or her tranquillity and peacefulness of mind.
Wu Quan-you (1834-1902), and later his son Wu Jian-quan (1870-1942), created this other Wu Style; it is characterized by softness and emphasis on redirecting incoming force. It is rich with hand techniques. Wu style tends to have a slightly forward leaning posture. The advantage of the Wu Style is that it is pleasant to look at, and is rich in techniques.