The First English Interview with Chief Coach Zhong Yun Long

The First English Interview with Chief Coach Zhong Yun Long

When Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon pushed martial arts movies into the Oscar spotlight, it also exposed one of China’s most cherished martial treasures, Wudang Mountain. Nestled in the heart of the mainland in Hubei Province, Wudang Mountain is a famous center for Taoism and is believed to be the birthplace of Tai Chi Chuan. According to legend, Tai Chi (spelled Taiji in modern Mandarin) was created by an ancient Wudang master named Zhang San Feng, who was inspired by mystical visions he experienced on that mountain.

Today, the Taoist temples of Wudang are still active. In fact, Wudang’s temples are protected as one of 730 registered World Heritage sites of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Inside those temples, the internal styles of kung fu – Taiji, Xingyi, and Bagua – are still practiced by robed Taoist priests. Now they are opening their doors to the public for the first time. The Chief Priest of the Wudang Zhang San Feng lineage is Grandmaster Zhong Yun Long. Priest Zhong was our guest during his first visit to America for our Anniversary Gala Benefit last year, and he granted us this first interview for English readers.

Priest Zhong is a peaceful soul with a deep, resonating voice, full lips and prominent cheekbones. There’s a slow grace to his every gesture, which makes being in his presence a very calming experience. His thick black hair and shining complexion overshadow the broad shoulders of a seasoned martial arts master. Adorned in traditional Taoist cap and robe, Zhong was quite excited about his visit to America. He was very impressed with our environmental protection policies and was particularly fascinated by my low emission hybrid car. As a Taoist Priest defending one of China’s natural wonders, he has a genuine concern for conservation.

Taiji is undoubtedly the most practiced form of martial arts in the United States today. Followers range from strapping young push hands champions to the elderly and afflicted. But according to Priest Zhong, we westerners have a very limited understanding of what Taiji is. His mission is to reveal the true meaning behind the movements of this most precious treasure of China.

Origins of a Wudang Priest
“I was born in the year of the dragon in Huangxi City, Hubei. Many of my elders loved kung fu and that left a great impression on me. Although my father was a scholar who did not learn kung fu, my grand uncle both inspired me and taught me a little. In the old countryside, fights often arose between clans, so everyone studied the martial arts. It was a required skill. So in the countryside where I was born, everyone loved kung fu and it was mandatory to study it. This was my inspiration, the city where I was raised. Everybody there loves kung fu, and for whatever reason everyone knew kung fu back then. That’s why I fell in love with kung fu too.”

“In 1978, when I was 13 years old, I began to formally study kung fu under a master named Tang Yun Yue in Jiangxi Rechang. Before that, I was exposed here and there, but I didn’t actually learn a great deal. Under my first master, I studied Yue family boxing and Yang family boxing. That’s Yue as in the famous Song General Yue Fei, and Yang kung fu, not Yang Taiji. This Yang was another general from the Song Dynasty. According to legend, all the men in the family were generals that died in battle, so the women of the family had to become generals to defend the country against the Jin invasion. Anyway, I studied with that master for about six years, and then at 18, I went to Shaolin Temple to study for about six months.”

“At 19, I came to Wudang to study formally. Mostly, I studied under masters Guo Gaoyi and Zhu Chende. Wang Kuangde also taught me a lot. At that time, Wudang was not as open as it is today. Not everybody could go there to study. They had rigid restrictions on who could be accepted as students. Then, in 1984, the Wudang Taoist Association was founded and that began to open things up. Before that, only the older Taoist priests lived in the temples. Due to China’s turbulent recent history, there was a missing generation. All the masters from the last generation are very old. I am the part of the younger generation of priests to come in. It was the first time they recruited new blood for the Wudang Association and I was among the first recruits.”

“In winter of 1985, the Wudang masters asked me to go down the mountain and spend three years to search for lost Wudang masters and schools. I first studied under Gansu Chen Ye and inherited WudangBashenmen (8 Immortal Gate.) In spring of 1986, I traveled toLao Mountain in Shandong and studied Xuanmen Wuxue (dark gate martial study.) That autumn, I went to Zhongnan Mountain in Shaanxi to study Huan Yen Dan Ba (Taoist alchemy) under Gansu Li Yue. I continued my studies on Zhongnan Mountain through the spring of 1987, inheriting Wudang Xingyimen and Baguamen. Then in June I was ordered to return for the first Wudang open tournament.”

Wudang in the Last Two Decades
“Back then, the living standard was very hard. The old masters were very strict. They only taught me in secret at night so that no one would see it during the day. There were no kung fu schools up there. The only people who could learn Wudang kung fu were formal priests. Wudang had very exacting rules about who you could teach and who you could learn from.”

“But after 1988, these rules were loosened. Mr. Qiao Shi, a speaker of the Chinese Congress, visited Wudang and inspired the priests to open the door and spread Wudang martial arts to the world. So we changed the rules and started to teach outside. My old master and I performed for him during that visit. Mr. Qiao Shi saw that it was a great and mystical art. That?s why he said we needed to promote it. Of course, before he had visited, Wudang had already begun to open the door a little. In the old days, Wudang kung fu was not even shown to outsiders, but after the Wudang Taoist Association was formally established, we held two internal martial arts exhibitions in 1985 and 1986. In 1987 we held our first annual lei tai (sparring ring) open tournament. After that I headed northeast continued my research, but I returned in autumn of 1988, and then competed in the National Farmers Athletic Events. In 1988 we began to teach outsiders, and the following year the first Wudang Taoist Martial Arts School was opened. That was the first time we had a school in the mountains teaching outsiders. Now we call it the Wudang Taoist Martial Arts Institute. I also accepted the duty of chief instructor for the Wudang Taoist Association from Guo Gaoyi then.”

“When we first opened the school, we were only allowed to have 40 students a year. That?s all we could take and only Chinese students studied seriously then. Foreigners only came for a very short stays. By 1989, more foreigners came to study, but they all came for too short of a time to learn. Even today, most come and learn a little Taijiquan or a little nourishing qigong. Those 40 students I referred to before stayed all year round to study. It was in 1989 that the association appointed me and Guo Gaoyi to be in charge of the Institute. So from 1989 to 2000, we limited the student body, but after 2000, we’ve opened up to even more.”

“This is the only martial arts school on the mountain that is authorized by the Wudang Taoist Association where you can formally learn Taoist kung fu. Of course, there are eight or nine private schools at the bottom of the mountain where they teach standardized forms. China has a lot of standard competition forms. These schools are actually bigger than the Institute since they are doing it commercially with a great deal of advertising. We at the Taoist Martial Art Institute never advertise. And these days, we do accept foreigners. Several have studied over a year now, but more stay for three month sessions. Most only stay for a week or two.”

“There are about 120 priests and 40 nuns currently registered with the Association. To be recognized, you must be registered. This certifies that you have met the requirements and passed the examinations. There is a Taoist college connected with Purple Cloud Temple (Wudang’s primary temple). The priests and nuns study martial arts, as well as the other aspects of Taoist culture like music, painting, calligraphy, and astronomy. The excellence of some of the Wudang musicians has been recognized by the Wuhan Conservatory of Music.

“From 1995 to 2000, I was in charge of reception for the Wudang Taoist Association as well as the administrator for Purple Cloud Temple, but later I wanted to focus only on the development of Wudang martial arts, so I became president of the Wudang Taoist Martial Arts Institute. I am the 14th generation of the Zhang San Feng branch of Wudang, bearing the Taoist name Qing Wei. Now, there are no more 13 generation masters alive in my lineage. We only have 14, 15 and 16 generation now.”

“Over the last two decades, I?ve participated in many national and international martial arts exchanges, competitions and championships. And I?ve had to answer a lot of challenges, both nationally and internationally. Since master Guo and Zhu have both passed on, I?ve gone on to represent Wudang martial arts in Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States as well as greeted Chinese politicians like Jiang Zemin, Qiao Shi and Li Reihuan. In 2001, we formed our demonstration group. Then we went to represent Wudang at the Qimenpai Wulin Dahui (seven gate systems martial family gathering – Wudang, Shaolin, Emei Mountain, Hua Mountain, Kunlun Mountain, Kongdong and Tibetan.) This was held in Nanjing and organized with the cooperative efforts of Wudang and Shaolin. In 2002, I went to America and Macao. This year I went to Taiwan, which made the newspapers as I was being tested for SARS entering the country.”

Wudang Kung Fu Defined
“Wudang kung fu is one of two main streams of Chinese martial arts. Shaolin kung fu is famous for its strength and explosive power, its external power. Wudang kung fu is exactly the opposite. Softness or yin power is used to overcome hardness. Stillness overcomes motion. Four ounces overcomes 1000 pounds. Of course, it also has a hard part. There is external power. Wudang forms appear soft on the outside, but internally it is really hard. By hard, I mean qi, because internal forms cultivate qi. When you train in this, the qi is very strong and becomes hard inside. But on the outside, touching and seeing it, it is very soft. It?s also like lightning when it comes – fresh and electric. When it explodes, fajin (explosive power) is like thunder.

“These days, mainstream Wudang focuses on Taiji. But Taiji is the big brother, so to speak. Beneath Taiji are three concepts: Liangyi (literally “two gifts” but it can be analogous to “heaven and earth”), Taiji (literally “grand utmost”) and Wuji (literally “void utmost.”) We say Zhang San Feng absorbed a hundred different styles. He took these specific styles, ideals and philosophies and focused them on the life nourishing culture that is Taoism to invent internal martial arts. According to Taoist beliefs, from Wuji arises Taiji, from Taiji arises LiangyiLiangyi became sixiang (literally “four elephants” – this represents the four pillars or forms) and this created Bagua (eight trigrams, same as used in I Ching divination). From this we say “one created two, two created three, three created ten thousand.” This philosophy is the foundation of internal form. That?s why Liangyi, Taiji and Wuji are all under the Taiji umbrella.”

“Yin and yang combined together in balance creates Taiji. When you separate yin and yang, we call it Liangyi. Liangyiseparates the hard and the soft. Put them together and they become Taiji. Within the taiji is the Tao of life nourishing culture. Before, I said that Zhang San Feng absorbed a hundred styles and mixed them with Taoist life nourishing culture. What is really meant by this is that our style has combined the methods of tuna (breathing methods), daoyin(stretching techniques), caibu (collecting and nourishing) and hunyuan (akin to qigong). Now under Taiji there are three different levels, first Liangyi, then Taiji, then Wuji. But if you talk about the form itself, it also has different levels. First is tuna, the breathing method, second is caibu, collecting and nourishing, and third is called hunyuanHunyuan means combining yin and yang, so it?s an internal meditation method. These three levels comprise Taijiquan technique.”

“We use internal power to support external movement. Through many years of study, Wudang has developed many internal forms. In different periods, each form had a different creator. And each creator had his own basic form to base the foundation of his style. At Wudang, we have a basic entry-level form called Wudang Xuan Gong Quan but this is not like Shaolin long fist. It trains the stances, hand techniques and body techniques, combining all of them together.”

“It’s very hard to say how many lineages there are at Wudang today. Through the centuries so many masters have created their own styles. When each master breaks through, when they attain a higher level, they become their own style. When they become their own style, they create another branch of the lineage. Most of the lineages are out in the community among the folk people of the country. Today, there might be thirty or fifty of them, but the Wudang Zhang San Feng branch is the main stream. Now we still call it Wudang San Feng Pai (Pai means “school.”) All of the others came out of the San Feng Pai – they were created and branched out. Under Wudang San Feng Pai are eight men (gates): Taiji, Xingyi (form mind), Bagua (eight trigrams), Baji (eight extremes), Baxian (eight immortals), Xuangong (mystic work), Liuhe (six harmonies) and Jiugong (nine directions). I still focus mainly on Taiji. Wudang Taiji consists of 15 forms. Then from that it also branches out into 18 weapons.

“I want to send a message to the readers that Taiji is not just the Taiji form itself, because it is misleading in the world today. People talk about Taiji and think Taiji is just the form. But as I told you, it’s not just the form. It’s the three most important concepts, Liangyi, Taiji and Wuji. Not only are these in the form, they are the philosophy of daily life. Not only are these the daily philosophy, they are Taoist culture. It?s our ancient culture, our ancestor’s culture. The form you learn is not just for self defense. It can also help you develop your intuition and your hidden potential. When you learn this – the style, the form or the internal technique – it can also help you slow the aging process and enjoy a longer, more prosperous life. Wudang Taoist culture is not only in martial arts, but also in learning qigong and nourishing life. This is very important. Wudang Taoist culture is a treasure of our ancestors and our nation. Now Wudang Mountain has opened the doors. Not only me but all the masters of the mountain are willing to share this treasure with the world.”

Source: KungFuMagazine

The disappearing art of Chinese Wudang-style Gong Fu

The disappearing art of Chinese Wudang-style Gong Fu

Traditional Chinese Gong Fu lost its practicality after the end of the cold weapon age. Wudang, one of the most famous forms, is trying to carry the tradition forward into a new age.
Zhong Yunlong, born in 1964, is 14th generation Wudang Sanfeng Sect. He came to Wudang when he was 19 years old and exchanged Gong Fu arts with other sects on behalf of Wudang. Zhong returned to the Purple Cloud Temple, the base of Wudang, five years later to deal with challengers from other places.

Purple Cloud Entrance
Purple Cloud Entrance

The last person who challenged him was an Italian fighter some 23 years ago. Claiming to be the founder of martial arts in Europe, he was thrown to the ground and slightly injured. Measures were later put in place to prevent future injuries. Without an actual combat atmosphere, however, fighters cannot learn from each other, and Wudang gradually became a form of exercise for self-entertainment.

According to Zhong, Wudang used to have 11 branches, but now only has six. “The most important reason for their disappearance is the strict rules of inheritance. There used to be more than 400 sects in Taoism Gong Fu, but most of them were lost over time.”
Wudang swordsmanship exists only in legends because today’s swords are made of iron and are wobbly, so they are only suitable for performances or collection. He has collected various swords, all of which are unsatisfactory, except one: a rusty sword made in the 1980s has companied Zhong till now.

Zhong Yun Long's School under the Mountain
Zhong Yun Long’s School under the Mountain

“It’s performance rather than community,” Zhong said, describing the present environment of Gong Fu. Before, several years of training was required before one could even start learning Wudang Gong Fu. Nowadays, most people are just interested in superficial moves.

According to rumor, Zhong’s master gave him a sword book before he died. Zhong said the rumor is false. “There’s no such sword book. We were taught the arts orally.”
Wudang and Shaolin are the best-known forms of Chinese Gong Fu. Wudang is famous for swordsmanship while Shaolin style is superior in boxing. Wudang’s swordsmanship is famous in China. It combines both hard and soft moves that change according to the reactions of the challengers.

Nowadays, Taoists in Wudang pay more attention to tourism than Gong Fu. Data shows that Wudang received 7.6 million tourists in 2016, and made 4.3 billion RMB in 2016.

Zhong left the Purple Cloud Temple last year, despite his promise to his master that he would never leave the Wudang Mountain. He did not take his sword with him.


Interview with Zhong Yun Long – About the Tai Chi System (via Study with Grandmaster Zhong Yun Long)

Interview with Zhong Yun Long – About the Tai Chi System (via Study with Grandmaster Zhong Yun Long) with Zhong Yun Long – About the Tai Chi System (via Study with Grandmaster Zhong Yun Long)

Interview with Zhong Yun Long – About the Tai Chi System

(via Study with Grandmaster Zhong Yun Long)

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Study with Grandmaster Zhong Yun Long

Study with Grandmaster Zhong Yun Long

Master Zhong Yunlong is a 14th generation legitimate inheritor of Wudang Sanfeng Pai (Pai equates to sect), an Orthodox Wudang Internal Kung Fu successor of two great Wudang Taoist masters and senior priests: Guo Gao Yi and Zhu Chengde.

When Wudang Taoism first opened to the outside world, Master Zhong Yunlong was sent by the Wudang Taoist Association, to unearth Wudang martial arts which were then only being practiced outside the temple.

The Wudang Taoist Association established the first Wudang Taoist Martial Arts Team, and Master Zhong was the leading member of the team.

In 1989, Master Zhong replaced the senior Taoist priest Guo Gao Yi as the “Wudang Taoist Association Martial Arts Chief Coach”. At the same time, he was appointed as the principal and chief coach of the Wudang Taoist Kung Fu School by the Wudang Taoist Association. This was the first time Wudang Kung Fu was formally shown in public.


Taoist culture and training future coaches of Wudang Kungfu and Nourishing Life Practices. 

It is not a place for sightseeing and entertainment, but for cultivating stillness of mind and developing a deeper understanding of Taoism. As such, the environment is simple and supportive of a reclusive lifestyle, secluded from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Our academy is not a hotel, but rather a place for study and personal enrichment.

San Feng Academy is situated at the foot of the Wudang Mountains, surrounded on three sides by mountains.  It is well located with good natural energy.  The environment is quiet and beautiful, with a temperate climate. On the one hand, It is well-located and easy to access; on the other hand, it’s separate from town, is surrounded by tangerine groves and has clean air and abundant quiet. All in all, it’s a blessed place for Martial Arts and Nourishing Life practitioners and ascetics to develop and practice their skills.  The location is both convenient for daily life and favorable for practice.


Wudang is the birthplace of Taiji Quan, a practice created by Great Master Zhang Sanfeng more than 700 years ago. Based on the theories of Yin, Yang & five-element, Emptiness-Solidity combination, Tu, Na, Cai, Bu as theory, the essence of Taiji Quan is consistent with human life being in harmony with nature: natural and smooth, like floating clouds and flowing water. Taiji Quan’s continuous, flexible and natural characteristics attract the eyes of and promote the well-being of mankind. Wudang Neijia Quan, a mystical practice which combines martial arts and nourishing life cultivation, has the characteristics of softness overcoming hardness, stillness overcoming motion, four ounces overcoming 1000 pounds. It is the vital essence of Chinese Wushu and a treasure of Eastern culture.

Today, tens of millions of people all over the world practice Taiji Quan & Nejia Quan, benefitting from the legacy of the grand master Zhang Sanfeng, Our mission is to teach Taiji Quan in a standardized and systematic way so that Taiji Quan may bestow all people with vibrant health and long life. We are united around the 14th generation Wudang San Feng Pai Master to learn Taiji Quan together, to research and improve the practices of Taiji Quan & Neijia Quan, and to promote Taiji Quan all over the world through activities that include instructor training, competition, seminar and video study.

Your membership in the Wudang San Feng Pai Friendship Association will help us to develop many trainers and make history, as we work together to promote Wudang Sanfeng Pai and bring peace, happiness, and longevity to mankind. Through our work together, Taiji Quan will continue to serve as a bridge of friendship for people all over the world. Our hope is that the earth will become a pure land full of harmony, peace, and longevity and that Taiji Quan will be a major factor in achieving this goal.

Zhong Yun Long School-1.jpg


The Academy has a wide array of weapons and training equipment for the students to use.  Many students opt to purchase their own swords if they are focusing on any of the Wudang sword forms.


The Sanfeng Academy provides a variety of accommodation options.  Most rooms are designed for double occupancy.  Some have private baths, and other rooms are arranged in suites with a shared bathroom for the suite.  The Taihe building also has several rooms with full-size beds for couples and rooms with three beds.


The Academy has classroom and meeting space in which to conduct English language classes for the Competition Team, theory and philosophy lectures and more.


Meals at the Academy are prepared in a modern Chinese kitchen and include at least two vegetable and one meat dish at every meal.  Meals are served community style.  Students are responsible for washing their bowls and chopsticks.


※ At the foot of the mountain

2 Year Martial Arts Trainer Program

Enroll now until October 30, 2011, in either the two-year Wudang Kung Fu Teacher Training Certification Program or the 2 years Wudang Nourishing Life Teacher Training Program and receive the discounted rate of RMB75,600 or US$12,000 per year for a total of RMB140,000 or $22,000 for the entire 2 years.

Foreign Individual Standard Charges

1. 1-10 days: $100 per day including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated).

2. 10 – 20 days: $80 per day including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated).

  1. One month:

(1) $1,400 per month including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated) and two uniforms.

(2) $1,600 per month including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with bathroom, air conditioned and heated) and two suits.

4. More than six months:

(1) $1,200 per month including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated) and two uniforms.

(2) $1,400 per month including tuition, board and lodging(standard room with bathroom, air conditioned and heated) and two suits.

Remarks: Long term students pay another $500 per month for a single room; Short-term students pay another $18  per day for a single room.

For day students (no room and board), please subtract 15$ per person per day.

Foreign Group Standard Charges

1. 5 – 10 people, studying 10 days or less:

$100 per day including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated).

2.10 – 20 people, studying 10 days or less:

$90 per day including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated).

3.more than 20 people, studying 10 days or less:

$80 per day including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated).

4.more than 20 people, studying more than10 days:

$70 per day including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated).

For day students (no room and board), please subtract $20 per person per day.

※ In the mountain

Nourishing Life Trainer Program

Foreign Individual Standard Charges

1. 1 – 10 days: $350 per day including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated).

2. 10 – 20 days: $300 per day including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated).

  1. one month:

$4,620 per month including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with bathroom, air conditioned and heated) and two uniforms.

4. 3 months:

$12,310 including tuition, board and lodging(standard room with bathroom, air conditioned and heated) and four suits.

  1. 6 months:

$23,100 including tuition, board and lodging(standard room with bathroom, air conditioned and heated) and four uniforms.

  1. a year:

$43,100 including tuition, board and lodging(standard room with bathroom, air conditioned and heated) and four suits.

Remarks: Long term students pay another $500 per month for a single room; Short-term students pay another $18  per day for a single room.

Foreign Group Standard Charges

1. 5 – 10 people, studying 10 days or less:

$300 per day including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated).

2.10 – 20 people, studying 10 days or less:

$260 per day including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated).

3.more than 20 people, studying 10 days or less:

$280 per day including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated).

4.more than 20 people, studying more than10 days:

$200 per day including tuition, board and lodging (standard room with air conditioned and heated).

Teenager summer vacation program

$2,000 per month including tuition, teaching material, weapons, ticket, board and lodging (standard room with bathroom, air conditioned and heated) and two uniforms.

【 note 】

1, Because of the reason that safeguards and room space, we just limit for 25-35 students. First, win, and submitted to the full.

2, Enroll by telephone need to pay $800 in advance deposit first, procuring items (clothing,materials, and equipment)

3, Students should be equipped with own toothpaste, shampoo and bath products.

4, The student’s activity fees are paid by the guild, no additional fees.

5, To ensure safety, all course activities would achieve to seamless docking. The coaching staff for full 24 hours supervision, unified action accommodation.

Travel Information

Wudang Mountain, located in Shiyan City prefecture, in western Hubei Province, is about 2 hours by car from the nearest airport but has its own railway station.

Travel to China: 

To go to Wudang from outside of China, it is best to fly into either Shanghai or Beijing. From these cities, the traveler has the option of flying or traveling by train.

Taking the train from Beijing or Shanghai is the most convenient method of the journey to Wudang.  The trip is around 20 hours, but the soft sleepers can be quite comfortable. The destination town by train is Wudangshan. Train travel from Wuhan in Hubei Province is around 5 hours.  Train travel within China can be booked via:

China Air Travel: 

Xiangfan has the airport closes to Wudang. If no flights are available to Xiangfan, you may want to consider flying into Shiyan. From either of these cities, you can then travel by bus or taxi to Wudang. Alternately Wuhan is approximately five hours by train from Wudang. Air travel within China can be booked through

Visa:  Visas are required for foreigners to travel to China.  The permit application form is available on the Chinese Embassy website at:

Make sure that all travel arrangements are clearly communicated to the Academy at the earliest possible date to ensure that there are no complications in your trip.  Taxis from Shiyan or Xiangfan to Wudang can be arranged by the Academy.

Contact Master Zhong Yun Long: