Sophia Delza Performing Wu Style Tai Chi

Sophia Delza (1903 – 1996) is seen in this video teaching the Wu style of Tai Chi Chuan during the 1970’s at her dance studio at Carnegie Hall. This video clip was filmed by the husband of Eli Vansted, one of the students in the class.

The video also includes Sophia Delza going through the form at her home, so that Eli Vansted could remember the movements after she went back to her home in Denmark.

Sophia Delza Tai Chi from Hua Yue Tai Chi Institute · Cph on Vimeo.

Sophia Delza lived in Shanghai from 1948 to 1951. She was a modern dancer, and the first American to teach modern dance in Chinese theater and dance schools inside China. While in Shanghai, Sophia Delza had the opportunity to meet and learn Wu style Tai Chi Chuan from the famous Ma Yueliang.

After moving back to the United States, Sophia Delza began teaching Tai Chi in New York City at Tai Chi at her dance studio as well as the Actors Studio and the United Nations building. She was one of the first teachers to publicly teach Tai Chi Chuan in the United States during the 1950`s.

Below is a book on the Wu style of Tai Chi Chuan which was written by Sophia Delza.

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10 Comments

  1. Interesting to watch as a long time student and teacher of the Wu style. I believe the reason Sophia never taught T’ai Chi Chuan as a martial art is mainly because in the 3 yrs. she trained with Ma and his wife Master Wu Ying Hua ( daughter of Grandmaster Wu Chien Chuan ) she never learned the martial aspects. It might have also been because in Red China even at that time Ma and Ying Hua were certainly watched very closely and teaching T’ai Chi Chuan to a westerner especially an American was probably a pretty risky business at best. So my understanding is Sophia came back to NYC and with her 3 yrs. of training she set upon teaching what she knew to a western audience hungry for the “secrets” of the mysterious East. Did she actually teach the whole art? No, not even remotely. Unlike Bruce Lee and Chen Men Ching among other great Oriental masters of the martial arts Sophia tried to teach T’ai Chi as a form of exercise and dance, because it was what she knew. Sadly that heritage has stuck and 95% of the people doing what they think is T’ai Chi in the west are doing something along the lines of what Sophia promulgated. Did she help popularize T’ai Chi, I guess, but sadly Sophia Delza was to T’ai Chi what Chop Suey is to Chinese cuisine.

  2. Does this video have sound? I can’t hear anything.

  3. I wish I knew how this site distinguishes between WuHao and the Wu styles.