Born into a wealthy and politically influential family, Wu and his two brothers, beginning in 1849, studied with Yang Luchan, the founder of Yang Style taijiquan.
Wu also studied with Chen Qingping, a 7th generation master of the Chen Family for forty days in 1852. That same year he received a copy of the Taijiquan Treatise attributed to Wang Zongyue. (This text is also an important Taijiquan Classic.) He began teaching his nephew Li Yiyu in 1853, who would become his most famous student..