Wudang Kungfu is an important style of Chinese martial arts and has a very long history. Wudang Kungfu comprises many training methods designed for keeping healthy and prolonging one's life while at the same time gaining many effective fighting skills. It is not just a school of martial arts, rather a complete system for both self defense and health preservation.
Wudang Kungfu cannot be separated from Daoist culture. Wudang Kungfu has its roots in the fertile soil of the thousands of years' ancient Chinese civilization. It contains ancient Chinese philosophical theories, combining the traditional concepts of Taiji, Yin and Yang, Wu Xing (Five Elements), and Ba Gua (Eight Trigrams) with boxing theory, boxing skills, training principles and attack strategies. Wudang Kungfu is a way of studying the laws of life and nature. One may say that Wudang Kungfu is the crystallisation of the Daoist exploration of life.
It is said that Zhang Sanfeng, the founder of Wudang Kungfu, was cultivating his spiritual energy in the mountains when he witnessed a fight between a crane and a snake. The crane was flying up and down to attack and the snake was shaking its body and raising its head in defense. The scene inspired Zhang Sanfeng and provided him with a general understanding of the Taiji theory. He then proceeded to create Wudang Internal Kungfu. He found in the battle between the two creatures the following two principles: one must overcome the strong in a gentle way and win by striking only when the enemy has made its move.
Having been developed and supplemented by many masters through the years, Wudang Kungfu now has several different schools and styles which include Taiji, Xingyi (Form and Will Boxing), Ba Gua Zhang (Eight Trigram Palm ), Light Body Kungfu, Hard Qigong and further styles of qigong. Wudang kungfu has come from deep in the mountains and become an important school of Chinese martial arts. There are many Wudang Kungfu schools today, but the lineage of Zhang Sanfeng remains the one that has inherited Wudang Kungfu in the most complete way. Master Chen Shixing is a 15th-generation Sanfeng Master.
Wudang Taiji Quan
Wudang Taiji Quan is based on achieving a fullness of internal energy, breath, and spirit. While practicing, the eight kinds of body awareness that Wudang Taiji Quan stresses are; lightness, easiness, roundness, evenness, flexibility, changeableness, steadiness and precision.
The motto for practice is: to be relaxed, complete, well-timed, and swift. Wudang Taiji requires one to be hard and strong inside, round and smooth outside and to strike out quickly, so fast that the opponent does not have the time to react. Move like the waves of the Yangzi River flowing to the ocean, one after another, never stopping.
In the third chapter of Lao-tzu's Tao Te Ching, it says, "Empty the mind, fill the belly. weaken the ambition, strengthen the character." Naturally then, this is also the motto for practicing Wudang Taoist Qigong. To practice each movement correctly, the theory of hard qigong must be understood first, and then the energy processed. There are about eighteen ways to practice Wudang Qigong.
In practicing Wudang Qigong, the first step is to move the inner breath in the small heavenly circle, also known as the first gate, whereby energy is refined and the breath transformed. When brought together, energy, breath, and spirit become spiritual breath. The second step is to move the inner breath in the large heavenly circle, also known as the middle gate, whereby the breath is refined and the spirit is transformed. At this point, spirit and breath become one. The third step is to combine everything into an integral; this is known as refining the spirit and returning to the state of selflessness. Recover and return to emptiness, explore the mind, make the body stronger, and prolong the life.
Zhang Sanfeng was a semi-mythical Chinese Taoist priest, who is believed by some to have achieved immortality. His legend varied from either the late Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty or Ming Dynasty. His name was Zhang Junbao 張君寶, before he became a Taoist. (Zhang Sanfeng—simplified Chinese: 张三丰; ancient Chinese: 張三丰; pinyin: Zhāng Sānfēng; English spelling: Chang San-feng; variant 張三豐. Pronunciation keeps the same.)
As a legendary cultural hero, Zhang Sanfeng is credited by modern practicers as having originated the concepts of neijia (內家), in other words, the soft, internal martial arts. To put it concretely, the Taichi Quan is one of the neijia kungfu, which is the result of a Neo-Confucian syncretism of Zen Buddhist Shaolin martial arts combined with the principles of his Taoist neigong. In legends, he is also associated with the Taoist monasteries at Wudang Mountains in Hubei province. Stories from the 17th century onward recorded that he initiated the internal martial arts. In the 19th century and later, the credit for the creation of Taichi Quan went to him.
In addition, Zhang Sanfeng is said to have been an expert in the White Crane and Snake styles of Chinese martial arts, as well as in the use of the Chinese straight sword. According to the documents preserved within the Yang and Wu family's archives, the name of Zhang Sanfeng's master was Xu Xuanping 許宣平, who was said to be a hermit poet and Taoist Tao Yin master in Tang Dynasty.
The Taichi Quan families who ascribe the foundation of their art to Zhang generally, and celebrate his birthday on the 9th day of the 3rd Chinese lunar month. Owing to his legendary status, his name frequently appears in Chinese novels and action films as a spiritual teacher and master of martial arts.