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ZHANG SAN FENG



 

HISTORY OF TAIJI (TAI CHI)

The semi-legendary founder of taijiquan was Zhang San Feng (Chang San Feng) who was born at midnight 9th April 1247.  

As a young man from a well-to-do family, he became a government official, but after the death of his parents he gave his property away to relatives and set out to wander the mountains in the hope of meeting a wise man. His journey began at the Shaolin temple where he stayed for ten years and mastered the art of Shaolin Gongfu (Kung Fu).  Next he decided to wander, still looking for his wise man, and  eventually settled in the San Feng (three peaks) mountains in the Wudang mountain range.  There he added the philosophy of the Yi Jing  (I Ching) and Daoist (Taoist) thinking and health exercises to his Shaolin Gongfu, thus creating the concept of internal martial arts, where mind and intention are more important than muscular strength.  He practised so well that he lived healthily for over 100 years, and as legend has it,  became immortal.

 

 

He had five hobbies which explain everything a spiritual searcher needs to know about taiji.

1)  Sword dancing in moonlight – to bring qi (chi) energy.
2)  Playing taijiquan on dark nights – to bring vigour and strengthen the mind.
3)  Climbing mountains on windy nights – to lengthen the breath.
4)  Reading classics on rainy nights – to cleanse the mind.
5)  Meditating every night at midnight – to brighten his own nature.

Zhang San Feng wished to pass on the gifts of health and longevity to everyone.  After searching for many years, he at last found his wise man, for he had become what he had searched for.

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Most websites carry a factual history of taijiquan (tai chi chuan), with names, dates and lineages.  If this is what you are looking for, I recommend the following websites.

www.taichichuan.co.uk   for a scholarly history of the Wudang style

www.taichiunion.com for a general history of all styles