Wudang Kung Fu

The Internal Martial Arts Tradition Of Wudang Mountain

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Bird's-eye view of Wudang Mountain Monastery.

The first building of the now-sprawling Wudang Mountain Taoist Monastery - the Taoist Five Dragon Temple - was constructed in the 7th century AD (Tang dynasty). Additional temples were, in subsequent years, added; and several hundred years later, the Ming dynasty’s Emperor Yangle oversaw a huge expansion of the temple complex, which took thirteen years to complete, and included the building of thirty-three additional temple complexes on Mount Wudang.

The internal martial arts of Wudang Temple are believed to have been originated by a semi-legendary Taoist priest/hermit whose birth name was Zhang Jun Bao, and whose spiritual name was Zhang San Feng (San Feng means “heaven & earth”). Zhang San Feng is variously believed to have lived in the late Song, Yuan or Ming dynasties.

As the story goes, at the age of five Zhang Jun Bao became seriously ill, and lost his eyesight. Having exhausted all other possibilities, his father took him to a Taoist priest, trained also in Chinese Medicine, who not only cured the young Zhang Jun Bao of his illness, but also accepted him as a disciple. Under the tutelage of this priest, he learned writing and martial arts.

This began what would become a life of traveling and studying widely with various martial artists and Taoist sages, adopting along the way the spiritual name of Zhang San Feng. He eventually settled in the Wudang Mountains, and one day felt greatly inspired watching a battle between a bird (a magpie or white crane, in various renderings of the story) and a snake.

Zhang San Feng incorporated human versions of these snake- and bird-movements into his knowledge of inner alchemy, qigong and martial arts to create Nei Jia Quan (Internal Martial Arts), which would later become known as Taijiquan (Tai Chi) and in particular the Tai Ji Quan 13 Style. This Tai Ji Quan 13 is the foundation of Wudang Internal Martial Arts, also known as Taoist Kung Fu (Daoist Gong Fu).

Wudang Kung Fu is known for its flowing, graceful and circular forms -- and for its use of softness to conquer the unyielding. Wudang Internal Alchemy is based upon three general principles: Infinity (Yi Wu Ji), Supreme Ultimate (Tai Ji), and Two Extremes (Liang Yi). Though Wudang internal martial arts forms tend not to advocate attack, practitioners trained in these forms are notoriously difficult to defeat. Along with their emphasis on internal cultivation -- i.e. qigong and meditation -- the forms also focus on strengthening bones, muscles & tendons.

The main forms associated with Wudang internal martial arts include: Taijiquan (aka Tai Chi or Tai Chi Chuan), Bagua Zhang (Eight Trigrams Palm), Xing-Yi Chuan (Form & Intention Fist), Wudang Sword, Shadow Boxing, Taijijian (Tai Ji Sword), Baxiangun (Eight Immortals Staff), Fangbianchan (Monk Spade), Fuchen (Horsetail Whisk), and Xuangong Dao (Broadsword).