There are three main doctrines that help progress in the internal arts. We reach mastery when we train all three categories. The doctrines are structured and should prevent confusion in the Wudang martial arts or esoteric approaches which lead away from the main path.
Posture – 步法 Bù Fǎ
The position and physical orientation of the body is the key to efficient relaxation and muscle tension as well as to the control of gravity. The basic Gong Fu doctrines consist of the Ji Ben Gong – basic exercises as well as the basic positions. Emphasizing a strong posture is important as students begin Wudang martial arts.
Usually one should start with Ji Ben Quan practice to improve in the basic postures.
Once the posture is stable, the student can gain power in the movements by controlling internal motions rooted over the Dantian. It is required that one acquires good enough flexibility for the basic postures in Ji Ben Quan. The internal movements in Wudang require flexible joints, elastic tendons, and relaxation.
Internal movements are rooted in the posture and lead the intention in one direction.
Rhythm Control – 節奏 Jié Zòu
The coordination between yin and yang, strength and relaxation as well as the breathing determine the rhythm control. The rhythm control can be done in both a consistent and irregular pattern. Everything is depending on controlling the factors which lead to efficiency in the internal practice. The learning of rhythm control must be corrected and taught by a master and is in an online class incomprehensible.
In the traditional Chinese martial arts, it is important to be soft. Only the soft overcomes hardness, making the body stronger, more resistant and prevent sickness.
The standard stretching routines in the traditional Wudang schools demand high flexibility to improve ones internal power. Being flexible puts less strain on the body and relaxation becomes more efficient. This will prevent injury and establishes freedom in the mind. Freeing oneself from physical and mental blockades to prevent stagnation of energy.
Only flexibility is not enough
It is a misconception in the Wudang martial arts that endless stretching may lead to a better condition. One more important factor is the power of the muscles and the elasticity of the tendons. It is common practice to use balancing stances to improve the fine-musculature of the body. The power to balance and hold the body is as important as the softness while being in this stances. This leads to better control of the body and more efficient use of the muscles.
Why it is important for power
Once the body can move unrestricted and freely, the power can be easily transferred through the body. Once we understand the Taiji – Yin Yang principles of power generation than it becomes clear how we train our coordination to work internally with our Qi. It is the time where students discover their Qi once they are flexible enough.
During the reign of Emperor Xianfeng of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), a new kung fu style, Baguazhang, emerged.
“The hands shake the sky and earth. The feet seal the yin and yang” is one of the 129 remaining Chinese fist positions in the country’s traditional martial arts.
Baguazhang is derived from the philosophy of I Ching. Practitioners move in eight directions represented by eight trigrams: Qian, Kan, Gen, Zhen, Xun, Li, Kun and Dui. Practitioners should keep walking in circles with swinging and hooking steps, and strike with different palm positions.
They should also keep the moves and breath stable. One of the basic moves, “the mud-wading steps,” requires people to keep their feet flat all the time and grasp the ground with their toes while moving.
Aside from the complicated and elegant moves, the philosophy of the practice has contributed to the people’s admiration of Baguazhang.
“You don’t practice for fights. You practice for good purposes like protecting the weak,” said Li Xiuren, a fourth generation inheritor of Baguazhang, when talking about what she’s learned from her father.
Throughout 160 years, the art has survived different eras and underwent many changes.
To help the weak, encourage people to stay healthy and preserve this art, Li writes books to promote Baguazhang. She went through a lot of difficulties, but never stopped her pursuit to pass on the art.
“Continuous change” is the main point for practicing Baguazhang, but also a piece of wisdom to navigate life. As a traditional form of Chinese martial arts, Baguazhang will go further by reinventing itself, bringing the Chinese culture to more people around the world.
Hello and welcome Wudang members and other interested visitors! This post today is my personal experience of martial arts which I trained all my life starting at a young age. Sit back and enjoy:
During the generations of peace, the way of the warrior is a superficial idea. Perfection is believed, and the manifestation of trivial aspects in martial arts become apparent. We can learn from war to understand the origin of martial arts. There is nothing perfect; it is our identification with hurting others and train ourselves. I think if you accept this point of view we cannot talk about protecting yourself or others.
Before I started my Wudang school in Vienna, I have been to several places, including ex-Vietcong trainers in Vietnam and I studied their understanding of combat. For people who have been in war, the way of martial arts is a way of life. They identify life by protecting theirs and taking others in the process. That is precisely why I came to Wudang since the understanding of martial arts is hugely different.
I like to say that Wudang martial arts are very spiritual in a practical way.
War Versus Spiritual Martial Arts
In the Wudang martial arts, the fundamental understanding of a fight is very different. Lao Zi tells that an idiot can be highly regarded as a genius without luring too much trouble. The winner has everything to lose, and the winner always requires a loser. It is much better to get out of a fight unharmed than declaring a winner. Wudang martial artists are chosen by their personality, tolerating, and reasonable to achieve balance in the nature of men. If you only want to show off your strength then you already failed the first stage of Wudang martial arts training:
The First Stage of Wudang Martial Arts Training
The first question in your training is: “can you accept it with your heart?” Half of the students drop out here because they cannot accept why they practice. Our heart is the foundation of our personality, who are we really? Why do you practice? If you are placed in a spot where you cannot escape, and it increases in difficulty every second to keep this state up, you have to work hard. The question is: How much can you accept with your heart”? If we truly believe in what is told, and how we achieve it, then there is no question and thus no internal conflict. Trust in the tradition, of the lineage and your master. When you teach a child to sacrifice comfort, it will cry first but will work hard when there is no other way. Trade all free time with hard work and you become a dignified person. Everyone respects a dignified person, now trade this respect to inspire others to do the same. These people are our Kung Fu brothers in a Wudang martial arts school.
The Second Stage of Overcoming Difficulties
When you learned the discipline and earned the respect of the master to teach you, then you have to be honest with yourself. There is so much you cannot do and so little you can. The more we practice what we cannot do, the more we find ourselves to being able to learn. Our mentality and the physical body is full of faults, the more you practice, the more you can see it. The beautiful thing about having faults is that every flaw comes with strength, often crossing between physical and mental abilities. During this phase, we define our personality and embody our character.
The Third Stage of Developing Martial Arts
We understand our capabilities, and we will not misjudge our abilities. Once, I experienced my limits by losing my sense of vision and hearing, but what drove me to practice further is the will to succeed and overcome my imagination. By defeating our imagination, we connect free thinking with action. This is the freedom of Wudang martial arts that makes it unstoppable for its practitioners. If it is indeed within our powers, we will be able to do it. Any movements and any kind of focus are in our reality, by giving it effort the lineage is built further for future generations.
The Wudang Freedom
From the past, there are tales of Taoists that fell off cliffs and practiced on cliffs to test their skills if you think you are ready it was common in history to test it out. My master Yuan Xiu Gang was known for standing one-legged on a cliff for an hour without moving. Overcoming both, fear and imagination. What does it really mean for you to be in harmony with yourself and to be in harmony with nature?
In war, nobody will care for these values, but the goal is to defeat the other side. The Wudang martial arts or in history previously known as Quan Zhen Dao, always kept the ethics of humanity. A true master of Wudang martial arts identifies his body and soul with his imperfections, and no other person shall rule over his beliefs.