We practice and teach Pudaoquan, Pu Dao Kung Fu, a traditional martial art with roots in the Shaolin Temple in China. But Pudaoquan is also a modern martial art, created around the dawn of the 19th century, and refined by subsequent generations.
Pudaoquan was created by Mistress Yichen, abbess of a monastic group on Hengshan, Hunan, China. After the destruction of the Shaolin Temple by the Manchu government, surviving monks and nuns fled southward to avoid contact with Qing authorities. By the close of the 18th century, Shaolin martial arts had left the confines of the temple, practiced by lay people—even criminals. In order to protect her community, Mistress Yichen created a new martial art, one specifically designed to overcome existing Shaolin styles.
Pu Dao means the "simple, plain; path, or way." Pudaoquan is simple, logical, and directly to the point. By not meeting force directly, but by using speed and surprise, Abbess Yichen created a martial art that enables practitioners to protect themselves from assaults by larger, stronger attackers.
Of the sacred mountains in China, Hengshan in Hunan province, was the one where Buddhists and Daoists not only coexisted, but worked together, even sharing facilities. Pudaoquan is a product of this environment, an integration of Buddhist and Daoist influences. As a martial art it incorporates elements of Shaolin and Eagle Claw, Taijiquan and Xingyiquan. However, Pudaoquan is distinct, with its own unique concepts.
Pudaoquan forms are few, and not showy, designed to develop a spontaneous reaction to a physical attack and cultivate qi (ch'i). Much attention is paid to breathing, balance, and basics; to qigong, nimble footwork, and body mechanics. "Walking the floor" doing techniques, partner work, and practice on a wooden dummy further refine skills and reactions.
After empty-hand skills have been assimilated, we also train with traditional Chinese weapons as valuable cultural assets. These implements are the long pole, staff, baton, small knife, Eight-Cut Knives, and tiger fork.
Most of all, Pudaoquan is an art of self-cultivation, which is also available for self-defense. It all begins with quiet standing, meditation. A calm spirit and a clear mind are your greatest assets in life, promoting good health and harmonious living. All Asian martial arts are supposed to produce these states in their training, but they don't. Hierarchical atmospheres, competitive environments, and focus on belt ranks and winning competitions thwart the development of a calm spirit and clear mind. Zhuangzi (Chuang Tsu) wrote, "Men cannot see their reflection in running water, but only in still water. Only that which is still in itself can still the seekers of stillness."*
Underpinning Pudaoquan is five thousand years of Chinese culture, animating all that we do. It is the roots of the tree that is Pudaoquan. Without nourishment from the roots, the tree is dead, an empty shell. Therefore, attention is given to Chinese culture, philosophy, and history.
Ultimately, we train primarily to master ourselves, to improve and enhance our spiritual health and physical well-being. Training in Pudaoquan will give you a clear and tranquil mind; a relaxed, fit, healthy body; and the calm confidence that you are able to handle any situation that comes your way in life. Training in Pudaoquan will transform you and change your life.
* Chuang Tsu: Inner Chapters, A New Translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English, New York: Vintage Books, 1974, p. 95.
Both Pudaoquan and Taijiquan are martial arts with effective techniques for self-defense. But both arts also have significant benefits for mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Wu Xing Chinese Martial Arts can help you improve your mindfulness, establish literal and figurative balance in your life, and keep your body fit.
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