The History of Wudang Kung Fu
Chang San-Feng made name for himself as a master in the Shaolin arts and a true scholar of the Buddhist doctrines. After approximately 10 years of uninterrupted studying of the Shaolin he joined the Taoist Temple (K’o Hung Mountain Temple) and here he continued his knowledge about the natural order of Chi and its role in nature.
Later he would travel as a hermit to the Wudang Shan (Wudang Mountains) were he founded his own monastery “Hsun Tien” and the very first documented internal school of “nei gung” (internal martial arts). This was the birthplace of structured modern Tai Ji Chuan. Up to then the only evidence of anything similar was chi gung meditation in movement which was documented two thousand years earlier on bone. The biggest difference is that these exercises had no martial (fighting) intent.
Based on inspirational visions while meditating, Chang San-Feng started forming the Wudang Tai Ji. One day he saw a crane and snake fighting and this helped him greatly in finding answers to the ever-pestering questions on improving on the much harder styles and preparing one’s body to effectively defend oneself even in a much older body. The Wudang style does not only consist of the Tai Ji discipline. However, it and all the other styles and weapons under the Wudang wing are governed by the same Wudang principles.
It wasn’t long before Chang San-Feng’s skill and fame caught the attention of the emperor. Troops were sent to find him and bring him before Emperor Tai Tso. This also happened to the Yang family much later in history for their Yang Tai Ji art. Unlike Yang Lu Chan, who ended up teaching a watered down version to the Imperial family of his famous style, Chang San-Feng hid himself. From time to time people would get glimpses of him and inevitably the troops caught up with him. Chang San-Feng acted mad so convincingly that the troops left him and went back empty handed. He continued teaching and developing the Wudang Wushu. Combining the theories of the Yin Yang, Taoism, the five elements and tapping into an experienced past of Shaolin training, the Wudang discipline of martial arts grew into what could be experienced as an unstoppable force today.
As Chang San-Feng disappears from history the trail of Tai Ji becomes cold again and only resurfaces much later with the Chen Clan, a powerful family from the Henan Province at the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644).