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The Ways Of Wudang
finding balance, one breath at a time...
Wu Dao Music:
Short Apparatus Weapons
Wudang Martial Arts offers a variety of weapon forms, divided here into short and long apparatus styles. For short weapons, Wudang style includes Broadsword, Fu Chen (Horsehair Whisk) and Straight Sword. Each style, with the exception of Straight Sword having three, has its own individual form highlighting the techniques and body-weapon coordination that embodies the essence of each weapon.
The first of the weapons is the Broadsword. The form for this weapon is called Xuan Gong Dao. The broadsword is used in broad slashing moves and fast body techniques, emphasizing the opening of the body. Xuan Gong Dao requires the artist to be relaxed but strong to make powerful, big movements with the sword. It also puts attention on ones stances and stability with many jumps and fast changes in direction.
Next is the Fu Chen, or Horsehair Whisk. The Fu Chen has long been regarded as a special Daoist weapon, being unique to Wudang styles. The Fu Chen form is a soft weapon style that can be adapted to mimic movement found in broadsword, straight sword, and dart weapons as well as its unique style to wrap, pull, snap, whisk, and sweep. Its style is designed to be smooth and fluid.
Finally is the most famous, the Wudang Straight Sword styles. Wudang is renown for it straight sword (or Jian) styles. Jian styles emphasis soft body coordination, fluidity and strong precise techniques.
Solely for Straight Sword does Wudang Martial Arts offer multiple forms; Xuan Men Jian, Long Hua Jian, and Ba Xian Jian. Each style has its own technique and essence within the movements of each form. Xuan Men Jian is a style that tests the artist on changes from long to short movement, high to low, and slow to fast. Long Hua Jian (Dragon Sword) teaches the practitioner twisting motions, strong stances, and precise strikes. Ba Xian Jian, or Eight Immortals Sword, is a style that embodies the individual personalities of the Chinese Eight Immortals.
Each short apparatus found in the Wudang system focuses on the core of its own respective style. Technique is essential in each form. When practicing with any weapon the weapon should not be an instrument but rather an extension of the artists body. This is what Wudang Martial Arts strives to accomplish. Once the apparatus is seen this way, correct body posture and conditioning can begin.
Long Apparatus Weapons
Wudang Martial Arts also have long apparatus weapon styles to offer those wishing to train. The weapon styles taught are unique in their respective field, as Wudang does not approach a typical way towards techniques. The long weapons included in the set are Staff, Spear, Halberd, and Monk Spade.
The first style listed here is the staff form. Wudang offers one form called, Ba Xian Gun, or Eight Immortals Staff. This staff form does not approach staff as any typical style of martial arts does. The movements of this particular form are more open, bigger and embody personalities of the Chinese Eight Immortals. When learned the form is normally split into two halves because of the length and technique of the full form. This form uses the staff at both short and long distances to strike, and relies on the staff in other techniques for balance and speed.
Another one of the long weapons at Wudang is the Spear. The spear form taught through the San Feng Lineage is strong in spear basics, and requires speed, stability, and a lot of body coordination to perform. This spear style, called Zi Wu Qiang, is designed to strengthen the body and stamina of the artist by creating long, wide stances in unison with the basics of spear thrusting, swinging, and attacking.
The halberd, referred to as the Da Dao, is an interesting long weapon in the Wudang set. The weapon engages the body in a mixture of movements similar to the spinning and changes of Staff and of the cutting and striking of Monk Spade. The halberd is a traditionally essential weapon. It has played the role as an infantry weapon in Chinese history using the strong strikes to unmount riders from horseback in times of war.
Finally, is the Monk Spade, or Fang Bian Chan (meaning 'convenient shovel'). The Monk Spade is an unusual weapon. A weapon unique to Daoists and strongly rooted in symbolism. The parts and even the size of a Fang Bian Chan are all related to Daoist beliefs. From the principles of Yin and Yang, to the Three Heavenly Treasures (Qi/Jing/Shen), the Monk Spade is designed to represent many things.
Besides being a special weapon for symbolic reasons, the Monk Spade is also special in training characteristics as well. For one, the Monk Spade not only trains strength during training, but it builds it as well. Together, the weight of the weapon itself, combined with the difficulty of the techniques in the form, accomplish this. It is also complete as a weapon, bearing traits resemblant of staff, spear, long broadsword, and trident styles. It can be used to hook, chop, thrust, shovel, sweep, smack, and thrust.
Each long weapon holds its own specific traits, but all are used together to attain a healthier, more balanced body. Within the styles of each weapon one can find Daoist beliefs to teach the artist about not only good technique, but balanced living as well.
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