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Ma Yueh Liang and Wu Ying Hua

The Wu style Tai Chi of Wu Ying Hua and Ma Yueh Liang

by Gerald A. Sharp

Left: Ma Yueh Liang in the Brush Knee posture. In mainland China,Ma Yueh Liang and his wife Wu Ying Hua provided a direct connection between the teachings of Wu Jianquan (the founder of Wu style Taijiquan) and modern T'ai Chi Ch'uan practice. See also the Wu Style orgins page.


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By the time of their deaths in the 1990's, Wu Ying Hua and Ma Yueh Liang had been the most senior active teachers of Wu style Taijiquan in the Wu family for a number of decades. They trained and guided a large number of students. Their leadership followed the direct teaching of Wu Jianquan in Shanghai (from 1928 to 1942). The creation of Wu style by Wu Jianquan was not completed until after he moved to Shanghai: in this context, the name of the "Northern Wu style" of Taijiquan is problematic. The sons of Wu Jianquan left Shanghai a significant length of time before the death of Wu Jianquan in 1942. The "International Wu style" lineage through the sons of Wu Jianquan has passed through several generations. This has not yet happened to the Wu style branch in Shanghai that Ma Yueh Liang and Wu Ying Hua led.


An Appreciation of two Great Teachers


Like Quan You and Wu Jianquan, Ma Yueh Liang was of Manchurian descent. Ma Yueh Liang was born in 1901. He graduated from the Beijing ("Peking" as he would say in his finest English) Medical College in 1929. His specialty was Hematology and after coming to Shanghai, he established the First Medical Examination and Experiment Office of Shanghai at Zhong Shan Hospital. He was as much a man of Western sciences as he was a man from the east. So when he pointed out the finer aspects of both the Taijiquan and Bagua symbols his take was as much physics as it was Traditional Chinese Medicine. It was he who first demonstrated to me how Taijiquan moved in waves, and how it related to both symbols.

Ma Yueh Liang was featured in both the book and documentary, Healing and the Mind by Bill Moyers. His student, Sophia Delza, was an early pioneer in teaching Taijquan in America when she first offered classes at the United Nations in New York.

1. Wu Ying Hua

Wu Ying Hua was born in Beijing in 1907 and was the eldest daughter of Wu Jianquan, creator of Wu Style. She began learning Taijiquan from her father at age 9. Because of her dedication and diligence, she was recognized as a top student of her father's. Thus, her father trained her very seriously. She would wake daily at 5 a.m. and practice persistently, even in the notoriously cold winter months in Beijing. After 10 years of study, she had acquired the Wu Style essence and was adept in hand and weapons forms, especially sword, Broadsword, and spear. By age 17, she was a recognized teacher in Beijing.

In 1921, at the invitation of Taiji enthusiasts and Wushu professionals in Shanghai, she was invited to formally introduce Wu Style Taijiquan for the first time there. In 1926, her father, Wu Jianquan, was invited to teach in Shanghai and Wu Ying Hua served as the Teacher's Assistant.

In 1930, she married with Ma Yueh Liang. In 1933, The Jianquan (Chian Chuan) Taijiquan Association began to put together its association. Wu Jianquan was the director, while both she and Ma Yueh Liang were the Vice-Presidents.

For the next sixty years, she and Ma Yueh Liang would serve as either President or Vice President of the Jianquan (Chian Chuan) Taijiquan Association.

2. Ma Yueh Liang

Picture: Ma Yueh Liang in the Wu style Transition to White Crane Flashes Wings posture.

Ma Yueh Liang was born August 1, 1901 and started school at age 5. However, by age 15, Ma's family was unable to afford his tuition. So, Ma was forced to leave school and work in Xiehe Hospital in Beijing. While there, Ma's attention to detail garnered the attention of a British physician by the name of Miss McCoy. McCoy sponsored Ma to attend the Beijing (Peiking) Medical College, and after four years he graduated in 1929 with a specialty in Hematology. Afterwards, he was invited to go to Shanghai to work in Zhongshan Hospital where he eventually ran the blood clinics.

Ma always loved martial arts. In his youth, he studied Three Emperors Pao Chui, Baguazhang, Tong Bei Quan, and Shaolin Kung Fu. However, at age 18 (19 in Chinese years), he met Wu Jianquan. Wu informed the talented Ma that he would accept him as a student, but he needed to concentrate on Wu Style Taijiquan only.

From that time on, Ma Yueh Liang practiced Wu Style only. Wu Jianquan required that they practice the Slow Set, or Man Quan, 10,000 times in 3 years. Ma recalled, 'While in Beijing, Wu Jianquan ran a very strict class. A rope was placed in the middle of the room, and strewn across like a clothesline; the height of which was barely higher than the average student's height. If a student's head rose above the line, they were whacked on the top of the head with a ruler. During the practice, we were encouraged to extend both the elbows and knees but never lock them when issuing power. The tailbone had to be loose and moveable, and we were required to stand 'straight but not up;' most importantly while moving. It was extremely arduous and difficult. Because of the teacher's high expectations, I improved and developed skill very fast.'

3. Wu Ying Hua, Ma Jiang Bao and A Continuing Family Legacy

Wu Ying Hua and Ma Yueh Liang's most skilled son, Ma Jiang Bao, was taught by Wu Ying Hua after being unable to complete medical school due to sickness. Wu Ying Hua taught a diligent and conscientious son, whose perseverance paid dividends in his recovery. Ma Jiang Bao was publicly recognized as the best family practitioner by his parents before their passing. Pictures of Ma Yueh Liang and Ma Jiang Bao appear in the Wu style Taichichuan Push-Hands (Tuishou) book .Ma Jiang Bao resides in the Netherlands and teaches throughout europe.

After 1980, Wu Ying Hua coauthored three books with Ma Yueh Liang: Wu Style Taijiquan: Forms, Concepts and Applications of the Original Style, Wu Style Simplified Taijiquan, and Wu Style Taiji Kuai (Fast) Quan. A weapons book, also co-authored with Ma Yueh Liang, was issued post mortem in 2001. While the work is not as complete and thorough as their previous works, the book does feature detailed photos of Wu Ying Hua performing the first series of the Wu Sword (in 94 forms), also known as Heaven & Earth Sword; as well as, the names of Wu's elaborate solo weapons forms in Chinese.

4. More About Ma Yueh Liang

Ma attributed his development and acquisition of high-level martial skill in Taijiquan to his combination of correct and patient practice with Qigong as well as his knowledge of Western Medical Science. He felt that his exposure to Western Medical Science enlightened him about the multitude of health benefits from exercise and how to optimize the exercise process. His explanations often included details about the 8 Doors (Bagua) and Five Steps (Five Phases), as well as Western Physics.

In 1930, Ma Yueh Liang married Wu Ying Hua, and together they developed the Wu Style for over 60 years. Ma also attributed his absorption of push hands skills to his teacher Wu Jianquan, and the Sunday Afternoon Push Hands Club Wu Jianquan started after coming to Shanghai. Ma Yueh Liang passed away on March 13, 1998 nearly three years after his wife and partner, Wu Ying Hua, had passed. The passing of Ma Lao Shir was a great loss to not only the Taiji Community but to the world of authentic martial artists worldwide.

5. Photo

6. Wu style
We offer a wide array of Wu Style videos and books in our online store. A new version of the Wu Slow Set Demonstration Video with (average quality video) of the daughter of Wu Chian Chuan (the founder of Wu style) Wu Ying Hua performing the Wu style Slow Set. For many years, Wu Ying Hua would perform the Slow Set and her husband Ma Yueh Liang would perform the Wu style Fast Set forms during demonstrations.
7. Gerald A. Sharp Ma Yueh Liang's son Ma Jiang Long and daughter-in-law
8. This page is still under construction
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