Wudang (Wu Dang) martial arts system, in its strict sense, includes the internal martial arts practiced by the Taoists in Mount Wudang and their disciples. Mount Wudang, also referred to as Mount Tai Ho (Grand Harmony), is located in the Hubei Province of China and is characterized by its beautiful scenery and Taoist monasteries. The famous Taoist Zhang San-Feng, the founder of Tai Chi Chuan, has stayed in this mountain for cultivation.
Wudang Fist Forms
The Wudang curriculum of CTMAA starts with the empty-hand forms of the Sung-Shi branch Wu Dang martial arts created by the most well-known fourth generation disciple Zhang Sung-Shi. He created the style by combining what he has learned and eight different distinguished styles which are popular at his time. It is characterized by its philosophy of “use the stillness to control the moving”, “follow the flow and borrow opponent’s power”, and “initiate the move later than the opponent but reach the opponent earlier.” The techniques developed based on these strategies are mostly short-range fighting tactics. In most of the techniques, there is seizing in striking, throwing in seizing, and throwing and striking simultaneously. Therefore, “the opponent falls immediately upon contact” becomes the major feature of the Sung-Shi fighting style.
Other Wudang empty-forms in the curriculum, such as the Taiyi carefree palm, five dragon fist, Taiyi five element fist, nine palace palm, and the snake palm are also designed based on similar strategies. Click Taiyi five element fist to view this form and applications of its movements.
In the curriculum, there are also various weapon forms. The sword forms from the Wudang school are considered to be the best in the Chinese martial arts circle. This style of sword techniques has the following four major characteristics:
This is the strategic guideline and philosophy of Wudang sword play. A Wudang swordsman's training starts with forms and ends with free sparring. The techniques are based on the "change" principle of Tai Chi and Ba Gua. They are based on the belief that constant change is the rule of nature and should also be the guideline of sword play. Therefore, this style emphasizes that "there is no fixed ways to move and the movement depends on the opponent's reaction"; "the key of sword play is to observe the change; right before the opponent makes a slight movement to initiate an attack, I disrupt his movement by attacking ahead of him; when I move I change, when I change I hit the target."
This is the strategic principle of Wudang sword play. It suggests "following the flow of opponent's force and borrowing the opponent's power"; "remain tranquil to wait for opponent's movement"; "launch the attack later but hit the opponent before his attack reaches you." When fighting with an opponent, avoid direct confrontation with his strong force and attack him when his force is weak or near an end. Go around the opponent but attack him along a straight line. Circle around the opponent to enclose his attacks. It also points out that the uniqueness of using a straight sword as weapon is that it is not used to intercept and contact physically with the opponent's weapon. Instead, a swordsman just finds the gap in the opponent's defense and attacks him in lightening speed.
This is the key to Wudang sword play. It emphasizes the use of body movement to control the sword. The movements of upper body, lower body, and the sword are integrated as unity. The body moves like a dragon and the sword moves like electricity. The footwork is light and agile and the body movement is soft and flexible. Therefore, it is characterized by the so called "Tai Chi waist and Ba Gua footwork." It also emphasizes that the sword and the spirit should merge as one. The sword goes where the mind and spirit go. The force propagates through the tip of the sword blade and so does the qi.
These are the major features of Wudang sword movements. The style is well known for its varieties of changes. It not only has the changes in the front, rear, left, right directions but also consists of many jumping and lying on the ground movements. Whatever movement it is, it requires swiftness, lightness, and stability. It is said that a swordsman should move like the swift wind and remain stable like a mountain. He/she disarms the opponent by one single attack. "He/she scares the flying birds when jumping and twisting in the air"; "He/she doesn't touch any dust when rolling on the ground"; "During the attack, only a light breeze is felt and the sword is invisible"; "During the change of movements, only the light reflected by the sword is visible but not the sword itself."
Other weapons in the curriculum include broadsword, long and short staffs, and spear. These forms are characterized by their practicality and effectiveness.