Wudang Mountain, located in Shiyan in western Hubei, is both a famous scenic spot and the Taoist Holy Land in China. The ancient architectural complex on the mountain was listed by UNESCO in 1994 as a World Culture Heritage Site.
The natural scenery of Wudang Mountain is powerful and magnificent, tinged with some fantastically serene and charming touches.
Major scenic spots include 72 peaks, 36 rocky cliffs, and 24 streams. Tianzhu Peak, its highest point, creates a striking view of "One Pole Supporting the Sky." Clustered around it are numerous smaller ones, composing a fantastic picture of 72 peaks paying homage to the main one.
Wudang Mountain is renowned as Immortals' Mountain of Taoism and the World for Swordsman. It is a famous Taoist center in China with a long history of Taoist practice and a profound Taoist culture. Wudang Mountain is also well-known for its deep-rooted tradition of wushu (martial arts). As an old saying goes: "Shaolin wushu is the best in the north, while Wudang wushu is the best in the south."
Wudang's ancient architectural complex consists of eight palaces, two Taoist temples, 72 rock temples, 12 pavilions and 10 shrines. Large in scale and excellent in technical detail, it is a powerful demonstration of the harmony between architecture and nature. Inspired by the fairyland picture of the perfect blending of buildings and mountains, Wudang architectural complex is known as the Imperial Palace on the Cliff.
Geography of Wudang Mountain
On Chinese maps, the name "Wudangshan" is applied both to the entire mountain range (which runs east-west along the southern edge of the Hanshui River valley, crossing several county-level divisions of Shiyan Prefecture-level city), and to the small group of peaks located within Wudangshan Jiedao of the Danjiangkou County-level City of the Shiyan Prefecture-level city. It is the latter specific area which is known as a Taoist center.
Modern maps show the elevation of the highest of the peaks in the Wudang Shan "proper" as 1612 meters;however, the entire Wudangshan range has somewhat higher elevations elsewhere.Some consider the Wudang Mountains to be a "branch" of the Daba Mountains range,which is a major mountain system of the western Hubei, Shaanxi, Chongqing and Sichuan.
Wudang Kung Fu
Wudang Wushu (also called Wudang Kung Fu or Wudang Gong Fu) has its home at Wudang Mountain. Wudang is one of the most famous mountains in the world and is the holy land of Daoism (also spelled Taoism). Wudang Mountain is the birthplace of internal martial arts where the great Daoist priest Zhang San Feng came to live as a hermit and learn the Daoist methods of attaining immortality. During his time here and through his practice Zhang San Feng created Nei Jia Quan, or what is now more commonly referred to as Tai Ji
Quan (also called Tai Chi, Taichiquan, or Tai Chi Quan). With a long history of deep knowledge and culture Wudang Mountain was named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1994.
Zhang San Feng was born Zhang Jun Bao in Liao Dong during the late Yuan Dynasty. His family lived in Longhu Hill, Jiangxi Province. His father was an expert in reading fortunes by watching the stars and constellations. As he predicated there would be good fortune in Liao Dong, he moved there before Zhang Jun Bao was born.
At the age of five, Zhang Jun Bao suffered from an illness and lost his eyesight. His father heard that some nearby Daoist priests had an incredible way of curing illness; so, he took Zhang Jun Bao there. Within a week, he was cured. The Daoist priest loved Zhang Jun Bao and took him as a disciple teaching him both writing and martial arts. Like all fathers, Zhang Jun Bao's father wished him every success. Zhang Jun Bao was expected to take the state exam for a career in the government. However, he was not interested in becoming a politician or minister. He loved martial arts and visited many ancient temples. Later in life he traveled to Yan Jing and took up a local government post through the relationship of a good friend. But Zhang Jun Bao soon quit and returned to Liao Dong where he spent most of his time in a deserted temple..
Wudang Kung Fu
One day at the temple, a Daoist priest approached him. They talked throughout the night, and treated each other as old friends, regretting not having met earlier. As they parted, Zhang Jun Bao missed living a life of solitude, wanting to be free like the clouds and birds. He spent the next few years visiting various places, learning martial arts and becoming famous. When he was visiting Shan Xi Province, he realized that the Daoist priest he met earlier was Qui Chu Ji, the disciple of the renowned Wang Chong Yang.
Zhang Jun Bao moved to the Jin Tai Temple in Bao Ji and was accepted by the respected Daoist Huo Long as a disciple. He became versatile in Daoism and named himself San Feng, which means heaven and earth. (In the 8 trigrams, San represents heaven, or qian. Feng represents earth, or kun.)
Zhang San Feng came and went without shadow. Settling down in Wudang Mountain, he was inspired by watching a snake fight a bird. By incorporating his training in wushu, Daoist internal alchemy, and qi gong Zhang San Feng created Nei Jia Quan (Internal Martial Arts), which was later called Taijiquan or the Tai Ji Quan 13 Style. The Tai Ji Quan 13 has formed the basis of Wudang Internal Martial Arts, often referred to as Daoist Gong Fu or Taoist Kung Fu.
Wudang Kung Fu
The Wudang San Feng Pai, meaning Wudang San Feng Sect or lineage, continues the traditions and teachings of our patriarch and the teachings of his successive follows. Wudang Internal Kung fu is based upon the principles of Infinity (Yi Wu Ji), Supreme Ultimate (Tai Ji), and Two Extremes (Liang Yi). Through the years of combining these principles, various styles have developed and flourished, most notably: Baguazhang (Eight Trigrams Palm), Xingyiquan (Form and Intention Fist), Liangyiquan or Taiyiquan (Two Extremes Fist), Xuangongquan (Dark Gate Fist), Baxian (Eight Immortals Style), Fuhuquan (Taming the Tiger Fist) and so on.
Wudang is also famous for its weapons, most notably is Wudang Jian or Wudang Sword. Wudang Sword includes Taijijian (Tai Ji Sword), Taiyi Xuanmenjian, Baxianjian (Eight Immortals Sword), and Longhuajian (Dragon Sword). Other weapons included in the Wudang San Feng Sect are Baxiangun (Eight Immortals Staff), Fangbianchan (Monk Spade), Xuangong Dao (Broadsword), Da Dao (Large Broadsword), and Fuchen (Horsetail Whisk).
History of Wudang Mountain
In years past, the mountains of Wudang were known for the many Taoist monasteries to be found there, monasteries which became known as an academic centre for the research, teaching and practice of meditation, Chinese martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, Taoist agriculture practices and related arts. As early as the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220 AD), the mountain attracted the Emperor's attention. During the Tang Dynasty (618–907), the first site of worship—the Five Dragon Temple—was constructed. Some of the monasteries were damaged during and after the Cultural Revolution of 1966–1976, but the Wudang mountains have lately become increasingly popular with tourists from elsewhere in China and abroad due to their scenic location and historical interest. The monasteries and buildings were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The palaces and temples in Wudang, which was built as an organized complex during the Ming Dynasty (14th–17th centuries), contains Taoist buildings from as early as the 7th century. It represents the highest standards of Chinese art and architecture over a period of nearly 1,000 years. Noted temples include the Golden Hall, Nanyan Temple and the Purple Cloud Temple.
On January 19, 2003, the 600-year-old Yuzhengong Palace at the Wudang Mountains was accidentally burned down by an employee of a martial arts school.A fire broke out in the hall, reducing the three rooms that covered 200 square metres to ashes. A gold-plated statue of Zhang Sanfeng, which was usually housed in Yuzhengong, was moved to another building just before the fire, and so escaped destruction in the inferno.
How to get there
The most common route for tourists come to Wudaang Mountain is from Beijing. From Beijing,you can take an overnight train to Wudang.The train, about a 20 hour ride, is much cheaper and more direct than flights.If you are planning on taking the train, purchase a ticket for the K279 train to a town called Wudang Shan.