The Legendary Mufu Mountain Martial Arts of Hunan - An Intangible Cultural Display of China! (6.11.2022)
(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)
Translator's Note: There are thousands of martial arts Styles existing throughout China and the Chinese diaspora! Only a small number of these Styles are known outside the Chinese community. Although these Styles were only passed down (secretly) within families - or through the cultivation of one or two carefully chosen 'Disciples' - today, the onus is on 'openness' and the 'sharing' of ALL Chinese cultural arts and crafts. The United Nations (UN) refers to these arts and crafts as 'Intangible Culture' - and pursues a general policy of recording, supporting, maintaining and spreading these distinct bodies of cultural knowledge. This policy is part of a broader initiative to generate 'peace' throughout the world by the 'familiarising' humanity with the distinct culture generated by each ethnic (human) group. Understanding prevents 'fear' and encourages 'friendship'. This Chinese language article records the fact that the UN has officially recognised the 'Mufu Mountain Wushu' Style as being a prime example of Chinese 'Intangible Culture'! ACW (6.11.2022)
Mufu (幕阜) Mountain Martial Arts (武术 - Wu Shu) is an ancient and rare fighting system. As such, it neither belongs to the Wudang (武当), the Shaolin (少林) nor Emei (峨眉) faction. It has a unique temperament - a system of its own - and is destined to be original. Mufu Wushu is a representative example of provincial ‘intangible cultural heritage’ (i.e., an example of an art or craft passed down through the generations) originating amongst the population of those cultural groups inhabiting Yueyang City area – which is situated within Northeast Hunan province (Mainland China). It is a martial art which developed at the foot of Mufu Mountains (幕阜山 - Mu Fu Shan) - with the purpose of creating healthy individuals who are calm, kind and a benefit to society!
Legend has it that Ge Hong (葛洪) - who served as Prime Minister during the Jin Dynasty (266-420 CE) - was once sat in deep meditation facing a tranquil stream after resigning from his post. He eventually became aware of a tiger which was stood staring into the entrance of a dark cave situated at the foot of a nearby cliff (Mufu Mountain). Suddenly, a giant python burst out of the darkness with tremendous energy and fighting spirit! The head of this snake was as big as bucket – and its body was as strong as a tree-trunk! This snake was completely unafraid of the tiger and immediately went on the attack! The two animals then engaged in a fierce and frightening battle!
As the battle progressed – the tiger continuously jumped and changed position – whilst the snake coiled and sprang forward only to recoil, change direction and spring forward yet again! As Ge Hong watched this encounter – he suddenly experienced a profound insight into the nature of reality! Although Ge Hong had practiced martial arts during his life – he had never seen such a display in his life as the two animals fought one another to a draw – both leaving the area in different directions. Eventually, both animals returned and occupied the same area without conflict – seemingly reconciling their differences. From this experience, Ge Hong integrated what he had learned from this experience into his existing martial knowledge – and generated a new combat system he named the ‘Dragon-Tiger Fighting Nest Fist’ (龙虎争巢拳 - Long Hu Zheng Chao Quan)! Later, a deer stumbled into the area and was killed by the tiger and swallowed by the python! After seeing this unfortunate event, Ge Hong pondered the problem of repelling the tiger. He then developed the art of the ‘Mufu Energy Centre Self-Cultivation Cliff Stick’ (幕阜丹崖棍 - Mu Fu Dan Ya Gun).
The complete Mufu Mountain Wushu System is comprised of unarmed (punching and kicking) routines - weapons and implements routines - and qigong (气功).
The Mufu Mountain Wushu System has five unarmed routines (or ‘Forms’):
a) Dragon and Tiger Fight for the Nest (龙虎争巢 - Long Hu Zheng Chao)
b) Dragon and Tiger Interact (龙虎戏 - Long Hu Xi)
c) Dragon and Tiger Developing Energy Centre Self-Cultivation Cliff (龙虎斗丹崖 - Long Hu Dou Dan Ya)
d) Dragon and Tiger Climb Mountain (龙虎登山 - Long Hu Deng Shan)
e) Dragon and Tiger Reunite (龙虎团圆 - Long Hu Tuan Yuan)
The Mufu Mountain Wushu practitioner can strike with effortless power – advancing and retreating with a requisite ease. The guard can be opened and closed at will with a continuous adaptation being the key. This Style can be practiced alone, in pairs, or with three or five people – and can easily be adapted to accommodate multiple people at the same time. A single practitioner can fight one or many assailants at one time with no problem whatsoever. The advanced Mufu Wushu practitioner can choose to be ‘still’ with the strength of ‘Mount Tai’ (泰山 - Tai Shan) - and move like ‘flowing’ water - never resting for an instant! Such a fighter can express ‘softness’ (柔 - Rou) and ‘hardness’ (刚 - Gang) at will!
1) Mufu Energy Centre Self-Cultivation Cliff Stick (幕阜丹崖棍 - Mu Fu Dan Ya Gun)
2) Eight Trigrams Descending Dragon Broad Sword (八卦降龙刀 - Ba Gua Xiang Long Dao)
3) Penetrate Throat Four Gates Spear (点喉四门枪 - Dian Hou Si Men Qiang)
4) Chasing Ascending Spirit Volting Tiger Straight Sword (追魂伏虎剑 - Zhui Hun Fu Hu Jian)
There are a total of twenty-four exercises which comprise the Qigong component. These exercises evolved according to the twenty-four solar positions. All these exercises strengthen the mind and body in readiness to participate in the act of combat. The mind and body become both ‘strong’ and ‘elusive’ - so that a Mufu Wushu practitioner can naturally dominate the opponent and the immediate environment. The strikes generated to combat an opponent are highly technical in nature and devastating to encounter. One speciality is the ‘claw’ (爪 - Zhao) which is used by both the dragon and the tiger! For this technique to work – the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons of the hands (fingers, thumb, palm, wrist and fore-arm) must be extensively conditioned and strengthened! The fingers must become enthused with ‘qi’ energy so that a ‘soft’ finger (through an act of ‘intent’) can transform and become as ‘hard’ as iron! This type of conditioning is applied throughout the body so that the Mufu Wushu practitioner is not afraid to be struck – and is able to hit with tremendous power! If iron and stone training aids are struck in training – the striking limbs become as hard as the objects they are hitting! Mufu Wushu is generally passed down through the method of mentoring and apprenticeship. Under the active promotion of Li Liangxing (李良兴), more than 1,000 apprentices have been successfully taught. In 1987, in order to encourage the popularization of Mufu Wushu - Li Liangxing was awarded the title of ‘Fist Master’ (拳师 - Quan Shi) by the Hunan Provincial Sports Commission – due to the special fighting skills he possesses and his deep knowledge of Qigong. This is why Li Liangxing was granted this honour!
Chinese Language Source:
非遗展示月 | 源自幕阜山的传说——幕阜武术
幕阜武术是创始人和历代传承人潜心演练，不断研究出来的武术派系，产生于幕阜山，它古老、独特、稀有，既不属少林、武当，又不是峨嵋派系。因独特的套路体系，极具武术门类的学术价值。在社会价值方面，幕阜武术始创于晋代，其演变历程也侧面体现了历史 文化的发展以及社会习俗的变迁。 在日常生活中习练幕阜武术，既能起到强身健体的作用，还能陶养情操。
Source: China Taiwan Network
China Taiwan Net - August 30th, 2016 - Shiyan News (Reporter Zhao Miaoqing [赵苗青]):
On the afternoon of August 29th, 2016 - organized by the Taiwan Affairs Office of Hubei Province – we participated in the ‘Use Your Wisdom-Eye to Understand the Foundation’ intuitive, which formed part of the ‘10th Cross-Strait Media Jingchu Travel Collective Activities’! This time the focus was on ‘Wudang Mountain’ (武当山 - Wu Dang Shan). The members of the team visited the following places of interest amongst many others:
a) Wudang Mountain Geological Museum (武当山地质博物馆)
b) Wudang Mountain Special Zone Planning Hall (武当山特区规划馆)
c) Wudang Mountain Museum (武当山博物馆)
d) Wudang Mountain Museum (武当山博物馆)
The Wudang Mountain is a Daoist area of immense beauty designed to relax all inner and outer tension whilst generating unity, harmony, balance, peace and perfection! By being present in this place, the mind, body and spirit experience a ‘purification’ process (premised upon breathing deeply and fully the pure air), whilst the Daoist practitioners and Masters see right ‘through’ each and every person who happens to walk (or manifest) within their vision (or sensory sphere)! Of course, many people who visit have disabilities – just as some of the Daoist priests and Masters do! Everyone (and every living creature) is welcome and all that is felt is an uplifting ‘compassion’ and a ‘healing’ love for life and existence! Many visitors report a ‘new’ agility and ‘renewal’ of mind and body with the spirit (consciousness) being expansive and all-embracing! The area (and experience) is grand and majestic! The ‘qi’ (气) energy is truly ‘great’ and ‘uplifting’! An interesting point the Daoist Masters and Daoist priests wanted to emphasise is that ‘everyone’ is welcome to participate in the ‘humanistic’ quality of Wudang Mountain – the Daoism of which does not discriminate in anyway and which accepts ALL beings without question or condition! Inside the Wudang Mountains Special Administrative Region the sand-drawing table attracted media attention from both sides of the Straits! Everyone was amazed at the grandeur of its scale!
On the last stop of the day, the team visited Jade Emptiness Temple - known as the ‘Forbidden City’ of the South! The Jade Emptiness Temple is located at the Northern foot of Wudang Mountain, within a basin area of 5 square kilometres. There are four imperial stele pavilions situated inside and outside the Temple – perfectly positioned so that each faces the other in a majestic manner (despite their differences in size)! In an area directly in front of the Jade Emptiness Temple, Master Yuan Xiugang (袁修钢) - the 15th Generations Lineage Descendent of the Wudang San Feng (三丰) School of ‘Internal’ (內 - Nei) Martial Arts – led a group of disciples through an impressive display of bodily movements of the arms, legs and torso! As a Daoist Priest, he responsible for the preservation and transmission of these ancient Daoist martial arts which can be spectacular to encounter!
"The martial arts practiced on both sides of the strait share the same common cultural origin. There are many Taiwanese compatriots who come to Wudang Mountain to learn martial arts every year - but there are not many Taiwanese students who commit themselves fulltime to learning Wudang martial arts over the longterm and place themselves in a position to inherit the Wudang martial arts lineages - as this would be something we would definitely encourage."
Explained Master Yuan Xiugang in a joint interview with media from both sides of the strait. When asked about the exchange of martial arts between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, Daoist Master Yuan Xiugang said:
‘Since 1994, cross-strait martial arts exchanges have become more frequent. In the past, Taiwanese people mostly conducted Daoist cultural exchanges in the form of ‘incense’ groups (paying respect at various holy places). After more than 20 years of exchanges, however, the cross-strait martial arts have gained a deeper understanding of each other.’
He hopes to strengthen and deepen the cultural exchanges between young people on both sides of the straits using the Wudang ‘Internal’ martial arts tradition as the vehicle and hopes that more and more young people will systematically learn Wudang martial arts and pass on the complete (Internal) lineages in their hometowns and living locations. According to reports, Wudang martial arts conform to the operating state of the inner body and the reality of the ‘natural’ outer world. Therefore, when practicing these ‘internal’ martial arts, the disciples learn to ‘drop’ or ‘sink’ (沉 - Chen) their bodyweight into (and through) the ground they are standing upon – always being physically (and psychologically) firm and stable (like a ‘Pine Tree’) - when in a state of movement or stillness! The outside of the body becomes noticeably pliable and ‘soft’ (柔 - Rou) whilst the inside of the body becomes ‘toughened’ or ‘hardened’ (刚 - Gang) in the sense that if impressed or impacted in any way from the outside – the incoming force is absorbed and dissipated harmlessly away from the inner organs and lacks the piercing power to damage the joints or bones, etc.
Wudang martial arts, however, are about the developmental health of the mind, body and spirit, protecting the natural environment and the REMOVAL of all conflict in the mind, body and environment, and between individuals, species and different systems of life choices, creativity and artistic expressions! With practice, Wudang martial arts practitioners learn to move about as if they are floating like clouds or flowing upon water! These abilities are considered unique within Chinese martial arts! This is why in 2006, Wudang martial arts were selected as part of the first batch of intangible cultural heritage arts considered truly representative of China’s historical genius and creativity! This process led the collection and categorisation of all such Daoist activities that comprise the ‘Wudang Internal Family Fist Law’ (武当内家拳法 - Wu Dang Nei Jia Quan Fa)! There are around 30 different styles being taught and practiced on Wudang Mountain which include ‘Taijiquan’ (太極拳) and ‘Taiyi Five Phases Fist’ (太乙五行拳 - Tai Yi Wu Xing Quan)! There are also 9 types of ‘Qigong’ (气功) which have attracted a substantial amount of attention from home and abroad!
Chinese Language Source:
2016年08月30日 09:30:00 来源：中国台湾网
中国台湾网8月30日十堰讯（记者 赵苗青） 8月29日下午，由湖北省台湾事务办公室举办的“借你慧眼看基地—--第十届海峡两岸媒体荆楚行”采风活动，聚焦武当山海峡两岸交流基地。
The ‘external’ component represented by the numerous ‘gongfu’ styles extant in China – perfects the ‘leverage’ of the joints on the horizontal plane. As this is generated by contracting muscles (which operate through the ‘awareness’ of the positioning of the bones and joints in relation to one another), very high levels of physical fitness and psychological conditioning must be pursued and mastered. This also involves the understanding of ‘torque’ or ‘deliberately’ employed muscular tensions to generate and increase impact. Bodyweight is also used across the horizontal plane – joint, bone, muscle bodyweight and psychological focus build ‘external’ power and erupt this force into a relatively small area of contact through the contacting limb and/or body-part. This type of power is quite often ‘shocking’ to encounter and difficult to recover from once a clean blow has been landed to a vulnerable part of the body. This skill can take five, ten or more years to perfect through traditional Chinese martial arts training (which builds a practitioner’s mind and body from the ground upwards – like the construction of a Book of Change hexagram). The most efficient martial arts style that I have seen that can convey this ability to a new student (with little prior experience) in the modern world – is that of the Shukokai Karate-Do style as formulated by O-Sensei Shigeru Kimura (1941-1995).
Integrated or ‘mixed’ power is a rarefied and highly refined skill of the highest martial order! A Master of ‘integrated’ power possesses the ability to continuously switch between power-generating systems (as in ‘external’ or ‘internal’), or apply only an ‘integrated’ approach. Furthermore, within the few seconds of a complicated fight – a fighter might have to switch rapidly from one power-expression to another because this is exactly what the situation calls for. The opponent could be highly skilled and a diverse approach necessary to ‘unlock’ their defensive patterns. Being ‘trapped’ in a restricted space might prevent certain techniques (and types of power generation) from being deployed – so the most appropriate mode should be selected. Where horizontal space is missing in the environment – then ‘vertical’ power can and should be used (with the orientation of power-generation adjusted to meet circumstances). Of course, the ‘iron vest’ ability to use the ‘aligned’ bones to absorb, reject or deflect any incoming attack is always in operation with the intention of ‘damaging’ the opponent’s attacking limb through using its own power and ‘deflecting’ it back into the structures of the attacking limb. This coincides with the maintaining of the perfect ‘rooted’ footwork.
External Power = 外功 (Wai Gong)
Internal Power = 內功 (Nei Gong)
Integrated Power = 雜功 (Za Gong)
The ‘neigong’ (or ‘neidan’) component is a vast subject that is very complex and directly linked to Daoist practice. This requires a qualified Master to lead the way. However, I have relayed above the basic requirements for ‘power production’ in our Hakka Family Style of Traditional Chinese Martial Arts.
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.