Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan, also known as Wu Yuxiang style taijiquan, was developed in China at the turn of the nineteenth century in Yongnian county, Hebei, China, by Wu Yuxiang and his nephew Li Yiyu. Both Wu and Li were literati, and belonged to the degree holding elite class of the day. One of the theories as to why Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan has not become as popular as its contemporaries, such as Yang style Tai Chi Chuan or Chen style Tai Chi, was that its founders, in keeping with their literati tradition, would only let descendents practice Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan for their own health and self-defense, but would not let them become professional Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan teachers.
Li Yiyu later adopted Hao Weizhen as his student. It was only after Hao Weizhen’s rise to fame that he started teaching his style to the outside world. In the 1930s, Hao Weizhen’s son, Hao Yueru and grandson, Hao Shaoru went south to Shanghai, Changzhou, and Nanjing, introducing this Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan into southern China.
In northern China, Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan was spread by Hao Weizhen’s student Li Baoyu (also named Li Xiangyuan). Therefore, the Wu (Yu-Xiang) style is also known in the north as the Wu style Tai Chi Chuan, and in the south as the Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan. In the 1960s, the famous taijiquan scholar Gu Liuxin advocated the study of taijiquan and opened the study of taijiquan’s five main styles, Chen, Yang style Tai Chi Chuan, Wu (Hao), Wu [Chien Chuan] and Sun, to the public at the Shanghai Sports Hall. The teachers there were all famous practitioners of their respective styles. Hao Shaoru, who by then was well-known among his taijiquan peers for his high achievements and talents, was invited to teach the Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan there.
It was during this time that Master Liu Jishun became one of Hao Shaoru’s first two students. In the 40+ years since Master Liu Jishun has never stopped practicing this style. At the All-China National Taijiquan Championships in the early 1980s, Hao Shaoru could not participate as a judge and nominated Master Liu Jishun to be his representative. Thereafter, Master Liu Jishun represented Hao Shaoru in continuing the teaching of Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Singapore and elsewhere. In 1986, China held the first National Taijiquan Experts Exchange and Performance Meeting in Chengdu, Sichuan. Master Liu Jishun was invited by Gu Liuxing and named one of the representatives of the Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan. The other representative was Master Liu’s fellow disciple, Master Pu Gongda.
In 1988 the second National Taijiquan Experts Exchange and Performance Meeting was held in Guangzhou, and Master Liu was again representing the Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan. In 1991, Master Liu was nominated Honorary President of the Yongnian County Taijiquan Association, Hebei Province, and represented the association at meetings and performances. Since the spread of Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan, it has evolved into a northern style and a southern style. The northern style is represented by Li Baoyu (Li Xiangyuan), and the southern style by Hao family’s third generation master Hao Shaoru. Hao Shaoru himself has passed on the knowledge of this style to Masters Liu Jishun and Pu Gongda, who became the fourth generation lineage holders of this style.
In 1995, Master Liu went to the United States and shortly settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he founded the Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan Association and has been teaching Hao Style Tai Chi Chuan to the public since.