Taoist Martial Arts of China
The Internal Martial Arts of Wudang
Taoism refers to a variety of related philosophical and religious traditions that that can lead to enlightenment. The word Tao, roughly translates as “path” or “way” of life.
Taoists generally focuses on nature, the relationship between humanity and the cosmos, health, longevity, and wu wei (action through inaction), which is thought to produce harmony with the Universe.
The reverence for ancestor spirits and immortals involving mantras is a common practice. Chinese internal alchemy, Astrology, Diet, Meditation, Chinese herbal medicine, Feng Shui, immortality, and many styles of Qigong breath training disciplines have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history.
Martial arts is one of the 3600 gateways that Taoism recognizes to reach the “Path”. In China, the martial arts are separated into two major groups:”Taoist soft martial arts”(Tai chi chuan, Xing-Yi chuan, Bagua zhang and the Wudang Sword) and “Buddhist hard martial arts” (Shaolin)
The name Wudang comes from a popular Chinese legend which concerns the birth of Tai chi chuan and Wudang Sword by an immortal, semi-mystic Taoist hermit named Zhang Sanfeng who lived in the monasteries of Wudang Mountain. It is said that on one occasion Zhang Sanfeng observed a bird attacking a snake on Wudang Mountain and was greatly inspired by the snake’s defensive tactics. It remained still and alert in face of the birds onslaught until it made a lunge and fatally bit it’s attacker. This battle inspired him to create a 72-movement Tai Chi Chuan “set.” He is also associated in legend with the Taoist monasteries at Wudang Mountains in Hubei province.
Since that time Wudang mountains have become one of the most important places to practice Taoism and internal martial arts.