The lineage of our Wudang Arts come from the San Feng Sect - 武当三丰派 (Wudang San Feng Pai). The lineage has changed and evolved from what it once was, however it has expanded greatly in scope since the cultural revolution. During the 1960’s and 70’s Daoist activity at Wudangshan was almost completely halted. By the end of the 1970's there were no more than 20 monks/priests living on the mountain. Most of the Daoists experienced relocation into labour camps. Of those who were allowed to stay in the temples (only the oldest Daoists - Li Cheng Yu, almost 100 years old at the time, among them), many were beaten by the red guard, and none were allowed to take on disciples.
In 1979 chairman Deng Xiaoping 邓小平 initiated a program of opening up and reform 改革开放, which relaxed the lockdown on religious freedom from the cultural revolution. Following this there was a slow trickle of Daoists returning to Wudang. Guogaoyi 郭高一 (1921-1996) and Zhuchengde 朱诚德 (1898-1990), both dragon gate masters, returned in 1980-81.
In 1981 the then 19-year-old Zhong Yun Long 钟云龙 came to Wudang to study internal martial arts. He became a disciple of masters Wang, Guo, and Zhu, studying San Feng sect and Dragon Gate sect practices under them. In 1985 master Wang, then the head of the Wudang Daoist Association put out a call for Daoists scattered by the cultural revolution to return to Wudangshan. Simultaneously he sent master Zhong all around China with letters of introduction with the goal of getting various masters to come back with master Zhong – and failing that, to at least get them to pass on their teachings to him. The first task was a failure. The second task, however, was quite successful. Through his travels and training, master Zhong amassed a huge body of knowledge ranging from Daoist martial arts to inner alchemy and healing practices. After four years of travelling he came back to Wudang in 1989 and together with master Wang, founded the Daoist Association Martial Arts Academy at Purple Heaven Temple, with master Guo serving as head martial arts instructor and master Zhu as head qigong instructor.
Master Zhong eventually took on disciples, one of who was Master Yuan Xiu Gang. Master Yuan trained at the Purple Heaven temple in the 1990s for many years and then travelled down the mountain to open a school of his own. Master Yuan began to take on foreign students in the 2010s, including our instructor David Ballantyne, which is how the Wudang San Feng Pai teachings were made available in Toronto. Please check the sections on Master Yuan and David for more information.
Eventually two famous masters did return to Wudang in 1986. These were the Bagua master Lu Zi Jian 吕紫剑 and the Daoist nun and master of eight immortals sword Zhao Jian Ying 赵剑英. Masters Zhu, Guo, Lu, and Zhao were at the core of a renaissance of martial arts activity on the mountain the likes of which had not been seen since the fall of the Qing dynasty, when famed martial arts master Xu Ben Shan 徐本善 was the abbot of Purple Cloud Palace. Alongside them Master Wang worked to restore Wudang's cultural heritage.
San Feng Martial Arts (wushu) 三丰武术
The martial arts of the San Feng Pai consist eight sections known as the “Eight gates of San Feng 三丰八门.” These are:
1. Taiji Gate 太极门
2. Xingyi Gate 形意门
3. Bagua Gate 八卦门
4. Baji Gate 八极门
5. Xuan Zhen Gate 玄真门
6. Eight Immortals Gate 八仙门
7. Six Harmonies Gate 六合门
8. Nine Palaces Gate 九宫门
If you trace these 8 categories, you begin to see the different channels that contribute to the present-day San Feng sect. Wudang Taijiquan comes principally through two dragon gate masters (Guo Gaoyi and Zhu Chengde), while Wudang Xingyi comes from both northern (Shang Ji 尚济) and southern lineages (Huang Wan Yang 黄万祥). Wudang Bagua comes from another dragon gate master (Liu Cheng Xi 刘诚喜), while Wudang Bajiquan is simply comprised of the standard Jing Wu Academy Form. Wudang Xuan Zhen style, also known as Wudang Northern style, forms the foundation from which everything else stems (this style master Zhong learned in Laoshan 崂山 from Golden Mountain sect master Kuang Chang Xiu 匡常修). The eight immortals style he learned from a wandering Daoist 甘肃陈爷 during his travels in Hunan province. And the last two gates are elaborations of Xingyi and Bagua respectively.
San Feng Health Cultivation 三丰养生功
The health category of the San Feng Pai curriculum is comprised of exercises, meditation and medicine. There are many health cultivation techniques, from the five elements qigong 五行气功 to standing and seated eight pieces of brocade 八段锦. There are also classical medical qigong sets like the five animal frolics 五禽戏. Aside from this there is martial qigong, like iron body 筒子功, iron arm 铁臂功, iron palm 铁砂掌, iron throat 铁脖功, mystical two-finger skill 二指玄功, and Taiyi Qigong 太乙气功. Later there are forms of health cultivation which border on inner alchemical practice like the Three Heaven Gate Enlightenment Training 三天门悟性气功 (also known as Tongzigong 童子功). These techniques were taught primarily by Guo Gaoyi and Zhu Chengde.
Today Wudang culture, Martial Arts and Health Practices are stronger and well defined. Possibly more than they have ever been, even before the Cultural revolution.