Wudang, the Taoism Holy Land
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 both a famous scenic spot and the Taoist Holy Land in China. It is told that the Taoist deity Zhenwu practiced alchemy here and succeeded in possessing a Golden Elixir. Later his body changed into a brilliant light and disappeared.
Mount Wudang covers an area of 321 square kilometers, with very beautiful sceneries and cultural relics. Wudang Mountain is a scenic resort that perfectly integrates the natural landscape with manmade buildings. Taoist temples are prominent here. The old Taoist buildings constructed over a long span of ancient Chinese dynasties deserve the description of construction miracles of the world. Most of the Taoist buildings dotting the mountain were constructed during the Ming Dynasty. There are four Taoist palaces, remains of two other palaces, two temples and a number of cliff temples and halls of worship remaining on Wudang Mountain.
The original features of these constructions are well-preserved in terms of layout, design, style, materials and technique. Taoist halls were mainly built in secluded nooks or on terraces, surrounded by nunneries and halls of worship. Cliff temples were usually built on prominent peaks, with which the mountain abounds. The temples and halls are architecturally superb, and have great cultural and technological value. They are invaluable materials for the study of the politics of the early Ming Dynasty, the religious history of China and ancient Chinese buildings.
The Wudang Mountain is also well known for its deep-rooted tradition of wushu (martial arts). It is the birthplace of Wudang School Kung Fu. Wudang Kung Fu is one of two main types of Chinese martial arts. Shaolin Kung Fu is famous for its strength and explosive external power. Wudang Kung Fu is exactly the opposite. Softness, or yin power, is used to overcome hardness. The notions that “stillness overcomes motion” and “four ounces overcomes 1,000 pounds” are the essence of Wudang Kung Fu. Inside the mysterious temples, the internal styles of Wudang Kung Fu—Taiji, Xingyi and Bagua—are still practiced by robed Taoist priests. These days, mainstream Wudang focuses on Tai Chi, which, according to legend was created by an ancient Wudang master named Zhang San Feng who was inspired by mystical visions he experienced on that mountain.
Source: www.ezine.kungfumagazine.com, www.wudangdao.com,