My Grandparents Wu Yinghua & Ma Yueliang
–Master Dr. JIN Ye
Granddaughter of Wu Yinghua & Ma Yueliang
I was born in Shanghai, China in 1961. My grandfather Dr Jin was a traditional Chinese medicine doctor in Shanghai, well known for his unique acupuncture treatment. My father is also a medical doctor; he graduated from Shanghai Medical College, and later on studied traditional Chinese medicine himself and became a Chinese and Western medicine expert in Shanghai. My mother, who worked as a member of hospital, is the first daughter of Wu Yinghua & Ma Yueliang.
From my memory, I know that my mother Ma Jiangchun started practising Wu Style Tai Chi from her earlier years of childhood. She learnt lots of Tai Chi form and she was also very proficient of Tai Chi theory. My mother very often talked to me about her childhood and her grandfather Master Wu Jianquan, who in 1928 came to teach Wu Style Tai Chi in Shanghai, founding the Shanghai Jian Quan Tai Chi Association. He had been living with his daughter Wu Yinghua. Master Wu Jianquan continued to live with his daughter Wu Yinghua and son-in-law Ma Yueling after they got married in 1930. My mother was born in 1931; as she was the first daughter of Wu Yinghua and Ma Yueliang, and first granddaughter of Master Wu Jianquan, she was very much favoured by Wu Jianquan, they lived together for 11 years. My mother remembers often imitating grandfather Wu Jianquan practising Tai Chi at home, or copying his calligraphy or mimicking his poem reading very happily. For a long time, she naturally learned a lot of Tai Chi from Wu Jianquan.
In my childhood, my parents were very busy working in the hospital. They often had to stay in the hospital for the night for medical duties, so during the weekends of school holidays, I had to go to my grandparents Wu Yinghua and Ma Yueliang. Because of the influence of my mother, I had a natural curiosity of the family Wu Style Tai Chi tradition, and spent lots of time watching people practice Tai Chi at my grandparents’ home. Slowly I began to enjoy Tai Chi. In the course of time, my grandparents realised my interest in Tai Chi, and started to teach me. Due to my persistence and earnestness, they gave me regular lessons, from which I made swift progress.
In the early 1980s, grandfather Ma Yueliang recommended that I take the role of Tai Chi coach at Retired Carter Centre in Shanghai, teaching Wu Style Tai Chi and Qi Gong. My many years Tai Chi skills learned from grandmother Wu Yinghua, together with her posture style and rigorous practice, were put to very good use at Retired Carter Centre in Shanghai, which significantly improved the health of those who practised at this centre and won their favour. From the mid-1980s, grandfather Ma Yueliang began teaching his closest TUDI (disciples) Tai Chi & Qi Gong theory at home to pass on 70 years of his personal knowledge and experience. He asked me in particular to attend those special classes. From Ma Yueliang’s several years of teaching, I learned a lot of theory that cannot be learnt through textbooks. I took many notes and spending many years to gradually understand, but this learning is beneficial for my whole life.
Wu Yinghua and Ma Yueliang taught me the most precious is their character: treat people sincerely, generously, lovingly, seriously, practically and reliably. I came to the UK in 1991 and they encouraged me to start teaching Tai Chi to promote Wu Style to benefit the health of local people. I hope to pass on all I was taught by Wu Yinghua and Ma Yueliang to my Tudi and students.
Autobiography of Wu Yinghua
I was born in Beijing in 1907, the Manchu people. My grandfather Wu Quanyou and father Wu Jianquan were all famous Chinese Tai Chi Masters, they established Wu Style Taichiquan as a school at the end of the Qing dynasty, and spread it at home and abroad, it is now one of the most famous schools of Chinese taichiquan.
Grandfather Quan You (1834~ 1902) was the founder of Wu Style Taichiquan. He worked with Yang Luchan (1799~1872) learning Tai Chi. Under the order of Master Yang Luchan, Quan You submitted himself as TuDi to Yang’s second son Yang Banhou. Grandfather Quan You was good at soften the Tai Chi, he founded the Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan and inherited the Taichiquan theory of lightness and continuation, maintaining the balance of rigidity-flexibility. At that time, many Han (Chinese) as well as Manchu ministers learned Taichiquan from him.
Father Wu Jianquan (1870~1942) originally worked as the Qing Dynasty court guard barracks office. After the Xin Hai revolution, recommended by the chief staff Yinchang to President Li Yuanhong, Wu Jianquan was appointed as martial arts instructor of the palace guards eleventh division. At that time some important officials, such as Zhang Yilin, Duan Zhigui and other dignitaries learned Taichiquan skills from him.
In 1916, Wu Jianquan, teamed up with famous martial arts masters Yang Shaohou, Yang Chengpu, Xu Yusheng etc., established the Beijing Sports Institute, and recruited more than 60 physical education teachers from Beijing universities and middle schools. The 3rd generation of Wu family members Wu Gongyi and Wu Gongzao were among the first graduates from that Institute. The students made great achievements, and they were highly praised by the president of Beijing University Mr Cai Yuanpei. Nominated to the Ministry of education, this Institute expanded as the Beijing Sports College. After the success of the northern expedition, Wu Jianquan served in the Nanjing central martial arts evaluation committee. In 1926, invited by the Shanghai municipal government, Jingwu Sports Association, Sino French university and celebrities Huang Jinrong, Du Yuesheng, Wang Xiaolai etc., Wu Jianquan came to Shanghai to teach Taichiquan, this benefitted lot of people. At that time, he had taught Xiong Shihui, Peng Yangguang, Yuan Liang to, Gu Zhenglun, Chen Bulei, Zhang Naiqi.
My elder brother Wu Gongyi was very knowledgeable with good attainments. In 1924, he was requested by President Chiang Kai-shek, of Huangpu Military Academy, to work as military trainer in Guangdong, and also the lecturer in sport at Sun Yat-sen University. At that time, Tan Yankai, Zhu Peide, Xiong Shihui, Chen Jiazuo, Wu Siyu etc. all learned from him. He established Jianquan Taichiquan Association in Guangdong and Hong Kong. For charity, he held in 1954 “Wu Chen contest” at new garden of Macau, which was the sensational sporting even in the world. He swiftly punched opponent’s in nose and defeated the opponent, thus made Wu style Tai Chi Chuan very famous.
My second elder brother Wu Gongzao studied taichiquan theory in depth. In 1933 from Beijing city he followed Wu Zhi-Hui and Li Shucheng to visit Changsha, he performed Taichiquan during the welcoming reception. Highly recognized by He Jian, he was appointed as the chief instructor of the Hunan martial arts training institute of provincial party committee. In 1934, he was appointed as the team leader of the Human team to Nanjing second National Wushu contest. In 1939, he established HongKong Jianquan Taichiquan Association. Under the leadership of Wu Gongyi and Wu Gongzao, Taichiquan was promoted and getting popular in Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, and Singapore and other regions, also spread to overseas.
I started learning Taichiquan with my father Wu Jianquan from 9 years old. I made rapid progress under his strict guidance. There were at that time more than 20 local people learning Taichiquan from my father at my home. I was very talented and many fellow learners were not as good as me, so my father said: “women are excelling in”. From then on, he was even much strict to my training of Taichiquan. I remembered that no matter it was in coldest winter or hottest summer; I must get up at 5am to train. It was very cold in Northern China; my father was even tougher on my training. At that time, practising martial arts was very hard task. I practised on upright brick when I was very young, I had to repeat if brick felled. After 10 years hard work, I made significant progress on sabre, sword, spear and other weaponry.
From 17 years old, I had coached at the Beijing Wushu Club, taught many celebrities such as at Tongrentang Drugstores, where I taught the owner Yue family, as well as their senior staff. My teaching was known for rigorous and serious.
In 1921, introduced by Mr Le Jingyu of Tongrentang Drugstores, I headed south to the Siemens Company to teach, I lived at General Manager Mr Guan Ziqing’s home. I also taught at the South Sea Bank, Kincheng Bank, Mr Wu Yun-Qi’s home and other places. I was the first who spread Wu Style Taichiquan to Shanghai. Not long in Shanghai, Wu Style Taichiquan as a school attracted wide attention to the Shanghai martial arts society.
In 1926, my father Wu Jianquan, by the invitation from all walks of life in Shanghai, came to Shanghai to teach, I was his teaching assistant.
Ma Yueliang and I got married in 1930. Shanghai Jianquan Taichiquan Association was founded in 1933, my father was the chairman, Ma Yueliang and I were the vice chairman. The location of the Association was at the 10th floor of YMCA in Shanghai Baxianqiao. It was the major event in the Shanghai martial arts society.
My father Wu Jianquan died in 1942; Ma Yueliang and Wu Gongyi were the chairman for some years respectively for Shanghai Jianquan Taichiquan Association, I was always the vice chairman until 1954 when the Association ceased to operate. In 1956, I was invited by the Shanghai Sports Palace as their coach for the period of 10 years.
Although I worked for many years as Taichiquan coach, I am always the housewife at home. I have five sons and three daughters, who are currently in their jobs to serve to contribute to our country and people. My motto is to tolerate and treat people with sincerity; even to my own children I treat them without tautology. I believe that there is love in the world, I love people and people love me too. Therefore, I never have harsh words to my students, give them inspiration patiently, and encourage them to overcome their problems. My another belief is that we have to learn very hard, trying to figure out whatever teacher taught us. There is a jargon in the martial arts world: “master took you into the door, the practice depends on yourself”. Perception is very important. The reason that I have had achievements in taichiquan, rely on these two main points. I was praised by my father to pose with the most accuracy, but I feel it is not enough. I have tirelessly pursued for decades, because learning is life-long. Although I inherited the family tradition of Wu Style Taichiquan, known as having position stable, posture accurate, also got a lot of reputation, when facing big events, such as big performance, Chinese National Wushu conference etc., I still practise my movements at home, in my home living room there is a big mirror purchased for this purpose.
In my teaching career over 60 years, I have accumulated rich experience in teaching, have been beloved by my students, and have been praised by leaders of Shanghai Municipal Sports Commission and Sports Palace.
During the Cultural Revolution, I can only manage housework for the family as a housewife. This is not unfamiliar to me. Because since I was 20 years old I had been the housekeeper for the whole family, at that time we had a large population at home, and there were also many unexpected guests coming from afar. From Beijing to Shanghai, nearly 20 people were eating at my home each day. That included my several cousins, such as Zhao Shoucun, Wu Yaozong, Yu Zhen etc. In a dozen years, I always taught and encouraged my children to follow with our communist Party. Because of contacts with many leaders after liberation, they are very concerned about me. To compare before the liberation, although at that time I had come across many dignitary, though they respected me, this cannot be compared with the leadership after the liberation.
After CCP’s eleven party 3rd plenary meeting, to my family, this is a great grace, the Party not only gave me a great honour, but also reviewed and identified my husband Ma Yueliang. In 1979, I returned to teach at Sports Palace. In 1982, I was chosen to represent the Shanghai Wushu delegation, attended the national martial arts meeting held by the State Council, proudly interviewed by the leaders of the CPC Central Committee. In 1984, I was a member of the organizing committee of the Sino-Japan Taichiquan Competition held in Wuhan city. I was the organizing committee member of the Sino-Japan Performing Assembly in 1988. In 1980, the Shanghai Jianquan Taichiquan Association resumed, I have been the chairman up to today.
During my long career of coaching, I have taught thousands of students. I have trained excellent sporting athletes Ma Jiangbao, Shi Meiling etc. Shi Meiling started learning with me in 1980; she used to practice Shaolin boxing, once in the same Chinese Wushu Team with Jet Li, she later on learned Taichi from me. I have devoted all efforts to her. Because she was already a well-known athlete, to induce her to grasp the essence of Tai Chi, she had to abandon her past, everything should start fresh. The difficulty was Taichiquan emphasizing brisk run through, while Shaolin boxing with aggressive boxing potential in frequency in a quick motion. But she had a sound foundation; I therefore induced her the way so that she has made great achievements in a short period. She has won several championships in the national competitions of Taichiquan and sword.
My third son Ma Jiangbao was a medical student, he dropped out due to illness. Since he started learning Taichiquan with me, he quickly recovered. He is good at long form, Taichi sabre, sword and spear, among my children he is the most achieved Taichiquan descendant. I set him very high standard, wherever his position is not accurate, he must get it right. In 1985, we took him to Federal Germany to perform Taichiquan, then he remained there. Currently he lives in Netherlands, teaching Taichi in Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and Federal Germany. He is a celebrity in Western European countries.
After 1980, I devoted to my book writing with Ma Yueliang. We have written 《Detailed Explanation of Wu Style Taichiquan》, 《Wu Style Short Form Taichiquan》, 《Wu Style Taichi Fast Form》etc. We spent a lot of time in writing up these books, Especially while writing up Detailed Explanation of Wu Style Taichiquan》, this was requested by my student Miss Rosie when she returned from overseas to visit relatives, she told us that more and more people are learning Wu Style Taichiquan overseas, she suggested that book includes the essence of Tai Chi essentials and publish it in Hong Kong, aiming to provide reference to overseas Wu Style Taichiquan practitioners, and to avoid misleading or error. We spent a year for the writing and finally published in Hong Kong in 1985.
The National Martial Arts Conference was held in Beijing in 1982, called by the Party and State to senior martial artists to dig out and edit the martial arts heritage. I responded positively to this call, together with Ma Yueliang, we contribute the book 《Wu Style Taichi Fast Form》without reservation. This is the techniques of Taichi fast form. My student Shi Meiling performed this fast form in the National Conventional Martial Arts General Assembly in 1983, she got performance excellence award, highly appraised by the national martial arts circles.
According to the spirit from the meeting of national martial arts in 1982 that “in order to facilitate the popularization of Wushu activities among the masses, some major styles should be modified into simplified form”, I drew on all major positions into 35 of the “Wu Style Shor Form Taichiquan”, published by the Shanghai Bookstore.
In November 1984, Ma Yueliang and I were both appointed as librarian of literature and history studies of Shanghai, and later awarded by the Chinese martial arts society as the honorary member of the Chinese Wushu Association. There were only three people in Shanghai to receive this honour, it is seen that Wu style Taichiquan received high attention from the Chinese Wushu Association.
Under the breeze of reform and opening up, and I glow my youth. I have been to Australia, and New Zealand, Hong Kong and other countries and regions to perform, I held the honorary member of the New Zealand Association of martial arts. I also toured in a dozen provinces of China to perform; I was warmly welcomed in Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shanxi, Henan, and Dandong. Under the care of Shanghai Municipal Halls I live a happy life. Regardless my age I will continue to work on this magnificent land of martial arts in China.