Introducing José Carmona Chinese Martial Arts specialist:
"Chinese Martial Arts are fascinating because of their very long history and the amazing diversity of schools and styles, around 350, according to the Big Wushu Dictionary published in Beijing in 1990.
The Taiji and Shaolin boxing schools are the most well known to the Western public. ".
Three philosophies form the base of Chinese Martial Arts:
Taoism, Confucianism and Chan Buddhism Chan (see article "Introduction").
Wudang Shan, Wudang mountains
Wudang mountains , or Wudang Shan, or Wudang mountains are located in the district of Hubei. It is the cradle of the Internal School of Tai Chi Chuan, which favours suppleness as opposed to muscular strength. Practioners seek peace and tranquility within the action, in accordance with the "Wu Wei" the action of ‘non action’, in tune with free flow and change in things and events. Wudang Shan, is also the sacred shrine of Taoism.
Zang San Feng , a Taoist monk, stayed there in the 13th Century and started up Tai Chi Chuan (see article "The Origin of Tai Chi Chuan"). The monks of Wudang Shan developed special exercises to channel breath and Chi (see terminology) , called Qi Gong in order to attain immortality. The founding ideas of Taoism are to be found in the pratctice of Tai Chi Chuan in the action of «non action » (Wu Wei) "the Tai Chi Chuan practioner does not oppose his opponent, like the wise man who lets nature take its course ».
Lao Tseu is the representative of Taoism.
Unsatisfied with life at the Imperial Court, Lao Tzu said to have gone West, to leave China, on the back of a buffalo.
When he got to the frontier, a guard asked him to write down his thoughts and that is how the Tao Te Ching, the founding text of Taoism, came to be .
Extract of this work:
"Nothing in the World equals the weakness of water but when it attacks something powerful, nothing can resist it. The weak triumph over the strong and no-one can change that »..
This principle is found in the practice of Tai Chi Chuan where suppleness overcomes brute force.
Dao et Tai Chi Chuan
Song Shan, Song Montains
Shaolin monastery is a Chan Buddist temple located on the Song mountain in the district of Henan. Song Shan is considered as the main mountain of the 5 sacred mountains of China . These 5 mountains correspond to the 5 Chinese cardinal points : North, South, East, West and Centre. It is the sacred mountain for Buddhists and it is the cradle of the External School (Wai Jia).
Under the Tangs, from 618 to 907, the monastery was at its peak and martial techniques flourished. The monk-soldiers practised external boxing as well as studying Budhhism. The pratice of Shaolin Quan is characterised by the ue of traditonal arms: Staffs, Nunchakus, Lances, Sabres...
The Shaolin monks applied animal techniques (see videos hereunder) and each set of exercises called Tao had a specific signification .
The Tao of the dragon evokes power and strength ; the Tao of the monkey, cunning ; the Tao of the serpent, fluidity...
In the External styles you find the practice of the Praying Mantis - Tang Lang Quan ; Luchan Quan, boxing practice of the disciples of Buddha...
Hereunder is a complete document about the physical training of Shaolin monks (90mn)