Darn, a lot of the points we are debating are only misunderstandings on a two dimensional message board! In person they would be as easy as 1, 2, 3 to demonstrate for you guys...
The head is suspended in the Wu style lean, directly up from the spine. It isn't vertical relative to the ground, but to the rest of the spine.
I've seen what I would call inclinations from vertical, leaning, myself in Ch'en style forms of Ch'en family members (photos of Ch'en Fa-ke), Yang style forms of Yang family memebers (photos of YCF and YZD), and Sun style forms of Sun family members (photos of Sun Jianyun). Four out of five! I haven't seen, due to lack of opportunity, enough Hao style to comment...
The three circles that I mention and their subsequent spirals in combination are the primary neutralization planes (the spirals represent everything in between) of Wu style TCC.
At first, the bow step IS usually for offensive training. But once the principles of are understood, neutralization is possible in any stance. I can completely neutralize an incoming force with my wrist, my foot, my back, my hip, my knee, my sabre, anywhere with any part that I can move in a circle. I can neutralize just as easily all the way forward as all the way back. My teachers made sure of that!
As for moving step push hands always turning into brute force grappling, all I can say is, what school do you train at? The teacher should be there to prevent that. It happens, of course, at a very low level, but moving step can stay T'ai Chi, if the people in question actually know T'ai Chi. I know this isn't what you mean, but it sounds like you are saying that there should be no stepping in T'ai Chi Tui Shou at all...
Jumping, rolling, throwing, foot-sweeping are Wu style specialties. The Wu family are originally Manchu, and wrestling was their national sport. That and conquering China
. So they took the principles of TCC that they learned from the Yangs and applied them to throws and groundwork. The Wu family have been working and refining these techniques for 150 years now, so it isn't a recent innovation. Orthodox training in at least one style!
You are quite right about the parallel footwork, and that is just the point. What if your feet can't move? You might like to have the looseness in the body to be able to neutralize regardless. If you can turn comfortably through the full range of motion in that position, then, when you are fighting, not constrained by the training, your effective comfortable range of motion will be that much greater. The Wu family addressed the issue, and this was their solution. This is borne out by experience, at least in my case. the other reasons for the parallel footwork are so that the legs will be stretched evenly on both sides during the forms and push hands, as well as having some small utility in closing strategies during sparring, making it a little easier to keep the groin covered.
As to whether the modern Yang and Wu and Sun families have mutual respect for each other, you just have to ask them. The good relationships between the families in question goes back at least 150 years. Wu Ch'uan-yu learned from Yang Lu-ch'an and Yang Pan-hou. Wu Kung-yi learned from Yang Shao-hou. Wu Chien-ch'uan worked closely with YCF and Sun Lu-t'ang. They all worked anfd trained together from 1914-1928. My current teachers from the Wu family have nothing but good to say about YZD and his schools. Indeed, I myself have a cordial, respectful relationship with the YZD student teaching in my hometown. So, there is no problem with them. Disgruntled students may be another matter, but they don't really represent the teachers themselves.
There are dozens more variations of Yang style than Wu style. I've trained in Shanghai and Hong Kong, I've seen Ma Yueh-liang's son, Ma Hai-long, serve Wu Kuang-yu (and myself) tea in Wu Chien-ch'uan's original Shanghai apartment. The variations between the families and even within families are not contradictions, but opinions. Everyone is different! As long as at least some of the eight gates and five steps are somehow present in every motion, it is T'ai Chi if you are folding laundry! It isn't a cookie cutter art. Two dimensional rulebooks don't apply.
So, to say that there is or should be conflict where there admittedly isn't does indeed seem like an unhealthy attitude! T'ai Chi is for health only. Its military usefulness faded over a hundred years ago. It just happens that the martial art gets you healthier faster.
Cheers! The separation of Yin and Yang is just the point. Yes, the firing of the "Yin" muscle (making it Yang) will happen, but we work on lessening and lessening it. "Tone" in the Western sense, is the mistake of double weightedness, and I can demonstrate it very simply, in person. That is how I have been taught, and my teachers also make convincing demonstrations of the principle.
The ten essential principles are very important in Wu style, but they are YCF's summary of points of principle from other documents handed down from the former masters, not his own creation.
Regards everyone! Keep up the good work!
[This message has been edited by Polaris (edited 05-31-2003).]