Self-portrait of Zhang San-feng

The master talked about the history of Taijiquan. 

Zhang San-feng (張三丰) was a Daoist alchemist living in Wudang Mountains (武當山)about 600 years ago. His self-portrait is shown on the right. Though already good at Shaolin boxing (少林拳), he had always thought that there must be some smarter way of fighting which would not rely so much on the use of physical strength. He wanted something soft and natural, something in accord with Laozi’s theory of “action without action”. In fighting, it means overcoming opponents through effortless action.

One day he stumbled across a snake and a mapie fighting each other. He was immediately struck by their ability to yield so that neither could overcome the other. From such inspiration he began to develop a new style of fighting that was characterized by softness and yielding, which he called “Thirteen Postures” (十三勢).

Since then, the secret knowledge of “Thirteen Postures” was taught only within the Dao monasteries. It was passed down to Wang Zong-yue (王宗岳) 200 years later, who began preaching this art to members outside the Dao community. His “Treatise of Taijiquan” has now become the cornerstone of every school of Taijiquan.

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