четвртак, 28. август 2014.

Wudang -between myth and reality

For centuries Wudang Mountains were and still are one of the most significant Taoist centers in China. First temples were built during the Tang dynasty (618-907) , unfortunately , buildings from this particular period didn’t survive . Further structures were added during the Song and Yuan dynasties, while the largest complex on the mountain was built during the Ming Dynasty. During the Ching dynasty period most of the buildings were rebuild and a lot of them extended.

Wudang Mountain is considered as a center of “internal” or “soft” martial arts .Tai Chi Chuan , Ba Gua and Hsing Yi , to mention just the most famous ones are “trade mark” of Wudang  ,Taoist martial arts . Most of the people, taking creation myths as an actual history , believe these martial styles are founded on Wudang . Popular story about Wudang Mountain have a lot of similarities with Shaolin story . In short, Toist immortal,,Chng San Feng lived in a monastery complex and created a set of exercises in order to achieve eternal life , today known as Qigong and he also created first “internal” martial art – Tai Chi Chuan .

Just like the Shaolin legend , this story is completely false with one exception , Taoist do practice Qigong .First , It is impossible to prove that Chan San Feng really existed and second , histories of Tai Chi , Ba Gua and Hsig Yi are very well known and documented . All these arts were created somewhere in the second part of the 19 century . Tai Chi was created in Chen village , Ba Gua is a creation of Dong Hai Chuan and creator of Hsing Yi was Ji Longfeng .

Before we continue I have to say couple of words about one very important person who influenced modern martial arts greatly . Sun Lu Tang is the most significant martial arts author and theorist ever . He was born in such a poor family that he tried to commit a suicide while he was a child .Later , he mastered Tai Chi , Ba Gua and Hisng Yi and also gained  the highest possible education . Sun Lu Tang was very well respected and feared because of his martial abilities and he was a talented writer .
Through his most important books he shaped the way how people perceive “internal” martial arts today .Today , Tai Chi practitioners will quote Sun Lu tang when they say their art is a way to preserve health by harmonizing and aligning internal body energy with energy of the universe . Ba Gua practitioners will say their forms are physical embodiment of I Ching not knowing these words are taken from Sun Lu Tang’s books , Hisiing Yi practitioners will say their five forms interacts like five basic elements of Taoist cosmology not knowing they are parroting Sun Lu Tang . 

From 1915 to 1927 in his five books Sun Lu Tang forever changed the way how people perceive “internal” systems. Before his time not even one martial system had any theory connected to Taoism .  Term “Internal” was his invention .He is also responsible for one more thing , dividing martial style to Wudnag and Shaolin arts . This happened in 1928 on first martial tournament organized by “Goushu” martial academy .  Goushu” martial academy was a government institution for development and research of Chinese martial arts during the republican period . On the first tournament , some martial teachers led by Sun Lu Tang wanted to separate their arts from others so they called their arts “Wudang” styles , while all other styles were called Shaolin styles. Before 1928. this divide  to Shaolin and Wudang arts didn’t exist .

Now back to Wudang . Before 1930”s there is no evidence that any of the “internal” martial styles were practiced on Wudang ,by internal I mean Tai Chi , Ba Guan ad Hsing Yi, and there is good reason for that. In the late 1920’s delegation from Goushu academy traveled to Wudang to learn sword fighting and in exchange they taught Taoist monks their arts .Wudang sword fighting was incorporated in most of the modern  ”internal “ styles as a result of this exchange . It is important to notice that Wudang was famous for its sword fighting techniques but before 1930’ Tai Chi and other “internal” arts were not practiced there .