WudangQuan Kung Fu

By: Jonathan Bishop

Wudangquan, is a family of Chinese martial arts known more generally as neijia. The name refers to the Wudang Mountains of Hubei Province, which are known for their many Taoist temples.

In 1669, Huang Zongxi was the first to describe Chinese martial arts in terms of a Wudang or "internal" school versus a Shaolin or "external" school.

Internal or "soft" styles of Chinese martial art are sometimes referred to as Wudang styles regardless of whether they originated in or were developed in the temples of the Wudang Mountains, just as external or "hard" styles are sometimes called Shaolin regardless of whether the individual style traces its origins to the Shaolin tradition or not.

Wudangquan incorporates yin-yang theory from the I Ching as well as the Five Elements of Taoist cosmology: water, earth, fire, wood, and metal. Animal imagery is evident in some of their practices. These motions are trained to be combined and coordinated with the neigong breathing to develop nei jin, internal power, for both offensive and defensive purposes.

Wudangquan is known for its weapons training and is famous for its jian (Chinese straight sword) techniques.

Several Wudang styles are:

* Kongmenquan - fist of the gate of emptiness
* Yumenquan - fish fist
* Taiyi wuxing qinpu - (grappling of five elements and Great One)
* Jiugong shibatui - (18 legs of nine palaces)

The Wudang Mountains, also known as Wu Tang Shan or simply Wudang, are a small mountain range in the Hubei province of China, just to the south of the manufacturing city of Shiyan.

In years past, the mountains of Wudang were known for the many Taoist monasteries to be found there, monasteries which became known as an academic centre for the research, teaching and practise of meditation, Chinese martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, Taoist agriculture practises and related arts. As early as the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220AD), the mountain attracted the Emperor's attention. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the first site of worship - the Five Dragon Temple - was constructed. The monasteries were emptied, damaged and then neglected during and after the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976, but the Wudang mountains have lately become increasingly popular with tourists from elsewhere in China and abroad due to their scenic location and historical interest. The monasteries and buildings were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The palaces and temples in Wudang, which was built as an organized complex during the Ming Dynasty (14th–17th centuries), contains Taoist buildings from as early as the 7th century. It represents the highest standards of Chinese art and architecture over a period of nearly 1,000 years. Noted temples include the Golden Hall, Nanyan Temple and the Purple Cloud Temple.

The Wudang monasteries figure prominently in Chinese martial arts films, especially the genre known as wuxia film and popular literature. For example, an ending scene of the famous movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Taiwanese director Ang Lee was set at the Wudang monastery, although not actually filmed there. In some wuxia films about the Shaolin Temple, characters employing Wudang martial arts are featured as villains. It is in reference to this type of film that the American hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan named themselves. In many martial arts movies, however, actors portraying Wudang practitioners are also found in heroic or neutral supporting roles.

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Jon Bishop is the editor of Wudangquan Webzine, which focuses on Taoism, Internal Martial Arts, Ethics and Chinese Culture

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