in 1850, Wu Ch'uan-yü was a military officer cadet of Manchu ancestry in the camp in the Forbidden City, Beijing and also a hereditary officer of the Imperial Guards Brigade. At that time, Yang Lu-ch'an was the martial arts instructor in the Imperial Guards, teaching t'ai chi ch'uan.
In 1870, Wu Ch'uan-yü was asked to become the senior disciple of Yang Pan-hou , Yang Lu-ch'an’s oldest adult son, and an instructor as well to the Manchu military.
Wu Ch'uan-yü's son, Wu Chien-ch'üan , and grandchildren: grandsons Wu Kung-i and Wu Kung-tsao as well as granddaughter Wu Ying-hua were well known teachers. Wu Chien-ch'üan became the most widely known teacher in his family, and is therefore considered the co-founder of the Wu style by his family and their students. He taught large numbers of people and his refinements to the art more clearly distinguish Wu style from Yang style training. Wu Chien-ch'üan moved his family south from Beijing to Shanghai in 1928, where he founded the ''Chien-ch'uan T'ai Chi Ch'uan Association'' in 1935.` Wu Kung-i then moved the family headquarters to Hong Kong in 1948, his younger sister Wu Ying-hua and her husband, Ma Yueh-liang , staying behind to manage the original Shanghai school. Between 1983 and her passing in 1996 Wu Ying-hua was the highest ranked instructor in the Wu family system. Her sons continue teaching and today manage the Shanghai school as well as schools in Europe.
Wu Kung-i's children were also full time martial art teachers: Wu Ta-k'uei was active in the resistance to the , yet he later taught t'ai chi ch'uan in Japan after the war. His younger brother, Wu Ta-ch'i , supervised the family's Hong Kong and southeast Asian schools for many years and opened the family's first western hemisphere school in Toronto, Canada in 1974. Wu Kung-i's daughter, Wu Yen-hsia , was known as an expert with the t'ai chi , while her cousin, Wu Ta-hsin , was also known as a weapons specialist, particularly with the t'ai chi .
The Wu style's distinctive , pushing hands and weapons trainings emphasise parallel footwork and horse stance training with the feet relatively closer together than the modern Yang or , small circle hand techniques and differs from the other t'ai chi family styles martially with Wu style's initial focus on grappling, throws , tumbling, jumping, footsweeps, leverage and , which are trained in addition to more conventional t'ai chi sparring and fencing at advanced levels. Another significant feature of Wu style training is its routinely placing the body's weight 100% on one leg; "''yin'' and ''yang'' separation". The leg that supports 100% of the body weight is actually the ''yang'' leg, as this leg is "full". The ''yin'' leg is that which has no weight on it, it is "empty". It is also common in Wu style to maintain a straight line of the spine from the top of the head to the heel of the rear foot when it is at an angle to the ground; an inclined plane alignment intended to extend the practitioner's reach.
Generational senior instructors of the Wu family t'ai chi ch'uan schools
Wu Ch'uan-yü , who learned from Yang Lu-ch'an and Yang Pan-hou, was senior instructor of the family from 1870-1902.
His oldest son, Wu Chien-ch'üan , was senior from 1902-1942.
His oldest son, Wu Kung-i was senior from 1942-1970.
Wu Kung-i's younger brother, Wu Kung-tsao , was senior from 1970-1983.
Wu Kung-i's younger sister, Wu Ying-hua , was senior from 1983-1997.
Wu Kung-i's daughter , Wu Yan-hsia was senior from 1997-2001.
Wu Kung-tsao's son, Wu Ta-hsin , was senior from 2001-2005.
The current senior instructor of the Wu family is Wu Ta-kuei's son Wu Kuang-yu .