Tai Ji Quan

The Wu/Cheng Hand Form

Exploring the Variations (1)

In [2] the Wu family list a 108 move form, including detailed pictures of Wu Chien Chuan and his eldest son Wu Kong Yi 吳公儀 (1900-1970) in the various postures. Wu Kung Yi certainly seems to have made some modifications to the postures. For example, it is interesting to consider Snake Creeps Down.

Snake Creeps DownSnake Creeps Down

In the picture on the left we see Wu Chien Chuan's performance of Snake Creeps Down, whilst on the right we see the same posture performed by Wu Kung Yi.

The father's posture is long and deep. In contrast, the son's posture is short and high. The long, deep posture is more similar to the way this movement is usually performed in the Yang style and the Chen style, whilst the higher posture is more similar to the way I have seen many contemporary Wu family practitioners doing the form. I would therefore suggest that Wu Chien Chuan's posture is close to what he was taught by his father, and thence the Yang's form, whilst Wu Kung Yi's revised version has become the orthodox for the Wu family style.

As a further point of comparison, the version of the posture that I do is long and low, and this is how Cheng Tin Hung performed the movement. This, in turn, suggests that Cheng's form probably came more directly from Wu Chien Chuan, than from later generations of the Wu family.

I do not wish to enter into a discussion of which version of the posture is "right" - they are simply different. I know two martial applications classically taught for this movement; one of them does not at all require a low stance. Whilst I encourage able youngsters to aim for a long low posture in Snake Creeps Down, when I teach form with older and less mobile students I make a point of highlighting the difference in posture between the father and the son, emphasizing the legitimate variations that may emerge for a movement.