Chang San-Feng

Taoist Grand Master
Circa 1200 C.E.

Legends and Lore     Bibliography     Links     Quotations     Writings

Principles of T'ai Chi Ch'uan by Master Zhang Sanfeng

Meetings with Master Chang San Feng

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Cloud Hands Blog

Research and Poems by

Michael P. Garofalo
Valley Spirit Center, Red Bluff, California




Chang San-Feng, circa 1200 CE

Taoist Grand Master Chang San-Feng
The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan:  Way to Rejuvenation (1980) by Master Jou, Tsung Hwa






History, Folklore, and Legends
Taoist Master Chang San-Feng (Zhang Sanfeng)


One tradition claims that Master Chang San-Feng was born at midnight on April 9, 1247 CE, near Dragon-Tiger Mountain in Kiang-Hsi Province in the southeast of China.  He is said to have been a government official in his youth, learned Shaolin martial arts while living in the Pao-Gi Mountains near Three Peaks (San Feng), and then lived for scores of years as a Taoist priest, healer, and sage at the Wudang Mountain Taoist Temples (Wutang, Wu Tang Shan).  He is reported to have lived to be 200 years old (1247-1447 CE), but his death date is uncertain.  He would have lived in the Sung, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties if these dates were accurate.  (Jou, 1980)

Another tradition claims that there were two Master Chang San-Feng Taoist priests and sages.  One was born in the Sung dynasty (960-1279 CE), lived on Wudang Mountain as a recluse, and combined the thirteen postures with other Taoist practices and arts to create a style of internal martial arts that became popular amongst the Taoists living and studying at Wudang Mountain.  The second Master Chang San-Feng (1279-1368), was a native of I-Chou in LiaoTung Province.  His scholarly name was Chuan Yee and Chun Shee.  He also lived on Wudang Mountain and was a highly regarded Taoist Master and scholar with many amazing magical, divinatory and healing powers.  He lived a very long life and was very popular with the local people.  

Master Chang is known by a variety of names: Chang San-Feng, Cheng San Feng, Chang Chun Pao, Chang Sam Bong, Zhang Sanfeng, Chang Tung, Chang Chun-pao, Grandmaster Chang, Chang the Immortal, Immortal Chang, Zhangsanfeng, Zhan Sa-Feng, Zhan Jun-Bao, Yu-Xu Zi, Chuan Yee and Chun Shee.  There may have been a number of male Taoist priests and hermits who chose to use the name Chang San-Feng.  

Some legends have made Chang San Feng into a Xian (Hsien) .  A Xian is a Taoist term for an enlightened person, an immortal, an alchemist, a wizard, a spirit, an inspired sage, a person with super powers, a magician, or a transcendent being.  A Xian is similar in function to a Rishi who is an inspired sage in the Indian Vedas.  I myself consider Chang San Feng, Master Chang, to be a Xian in my poems

"Xian are immune to heat and cold, untouched by the elements, and can fly, mounting upward with a fluttering motion. They dwell apart from the chaotic world of man, subsist on air and dew, are not anxious like ordinary people, and have the smooth skin and innocent faces of children. The transcendents live an effortless existence that is best described as spontaneous. They recall the ancient Indian ascetics and holy men known as rishi who possessed similar traits."
-   Victor Mair, Wandering on the Way

The early legends about Master Chang San-Feng are linked with activities of Emperor Chengzu (1403-1424) who searched for Master Chang and other political refugees.  By 1459, Master Chang had been declared an Immortal and, as with most saints, stories of his miraculous powers became part of the folklore in the Wudang Mountain area.  There is a fairly long tradition amongst Wundang Mountain martial artists and Taoists that attributes the development of soft style martial arts to Chang San-Feng and his disciples (Yeo, 2001; Wong Kiew Kit, 1996).  In 1670, Huang Zongxi wrote a book called Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan in which Chang San-Feng was called the founder of internal martial arts practiced near Mount Wudang.  By the 1870's, Yang family Tai Chi Chuan teachers were claiming that Chang San-Feng was the originator of Tai Chi Chuan. (Wong, 1997; Wile, 1996; Bing YeYoung, 2006.)

Wudang Mountain (Wudangshan 武当山) has many Taoist temples, monasteries, and facilities.  It has been an renowned academic center since 700 CE.  It has long been associated with Taoist studies and practices, Taoist scriptures, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal research, agricultural arts, meditation, unique exercises to increase longevity, and internal martial arts.  Zhang San Feng has been linked with most aspects of this Wudang culture.    

More recently, some scholars and tai-chi historians have argued that Chang San-Feng had little or nothing to do with the founding of Tai Chi Chuan or internal martial arts.  They contend that this aspect of the Master Chang legend was invented in the late 19th century by Yang family stylists to give their art form deeper historical roots.  (Wile, 1996; Tang Hao, History of Chinese Wushu, 1935; Henning, 1981; and Siaw-Voon Sim, 2002; Bing YeYoung, 2006; John Bracy, 2008.)  These authors contend that the Tai Chi Chuan systems (i.e., forms, push hands, sword/staff, chi kung exercises, and Taijiquan principles) as we know them today (e.g., Chen, Yang, Wu, Hao, Sun), were all created as successive variants to the system developed by the military leader and martial artist Chen Wangting (1600-1680)of Chenjiagou Village in Henan Province.  

My own view is that the Taoist Master Zhang San Feng was a real person, living around 1200 CE.  He traveled extensively, and like any sensible long distance walker in those days, was skilled in martial arts for self defense (probably including using the sword and/or staff).  He enjoyed learning from different Taoist, Confucian and Buddhist teachers.  He likely stayed for some length of time at the Shaolin Temple and at Taoist centers on Mt. Hua and finally at Mt. Wudang.  He was very reclusive, and disregarded social proprieties.  He was a highly respected Taoist master of internal energy arts, a defensive and "internal" style of martial arts, alchemy, mysticism, and philosophy.  His deep knowledge, high moral character, writings, and high level of skills attracted many Taoist followers who continued his mind-body Taoist practices, studied writings attributed to him, and told and retold stories (many apocryphal) about Master Zhang over the past 900 years.     

People in China, Tibet, and India have for millennia used exercises to improve health, cure disease, restore vitality, and increase lifespan.  Gentle stretching, breathing methods, herbal remedies, and use of postures for exercise can be traced back over 4,000 years.  Martial arts training methods, of course, are of similar antiquity.  Good old Master Chang, like the Bodhidharma of Shaolin fame, are just reference points for the imagination steeped in these many centuries of martial arts, health exercises, and the history of Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.     

At another level, Master Chang, Han Shan, and the Bodhidharma are also examples, archetypes if you will, of the crazy saint, wise fool, sage, healer, shaman, and wandering recluse that contrasts so markedly with the ordinary family-society lifestyles of the vast majority in any culture or civilization.  The Buddha himself, after military training in his youth, left his family life to wander and live the life of a solitary ascetic and mystic for a decade.  

So, we sometimes look to these fellows, real and imaginary, and ask them "So, old man, what have you learned that can help us?"  We listen to their advice, and sometimes follow their recommendations.  Sometimes we laugh at them and bang their copper hat.  In moments of whimsy, religious fervor or desperation, we give some of them, like Chang San-Feng or Chang Po-Tuan, magical and marvelous powers - to disappear and reappear at will, powers to cause rain to fall, powers to prevent disaster, powers to chase away malevolent spirits, shamanistic skills, techniques for defeating our enemies, methods for calming our troubled souls, and amazing 
skills at divination.  Most important, and what intrigues most folks, is that these hermit seers might hold the secrets for living over 150 years in good health, or rising from the dead, or pointing to the Way for us to attain eternal life as an Immortal - a Chen Jen: Realized Being.  



"Breathing Out -
Touching the Root of Heaven,
One's heart opens;
The Dragon slips by like water..
Breathing In -
Standing on the Root of Earth,
One's heart is still and deep;
The Tiger's claw cannot be moved.

As you go on breathing in this frame of mind, with these associations, alternating between movement and stillness, it is important that the focus of your mind does not shift.  Let the true breath come and go, a subtle continuum on the brink of existence.  Tune the breathing until you get breath without breathing; become one with it, and then the spirit can be solidified and the elixir can be made."
-  Chang San-Feng,  Commentary on Ancestor Lu's Hundred-Character Tablet
     Translated by Thomas Cleary, Vitality, Energy, Spirit:  A Taoist Sourcebook, 1991, p. 187. 
     Poetic interpretation by Mike Garofalo of expository text of Chang San-Feng.  






See Quotations Below



Return to the Main Index for this Webpage






Bibliography and Links
Master Chang San-Feng


Above the Fog.   Poems by Michael P. Garofalo

Advanced Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan.  Volume One: Tai Chi Theory and Tai Chi Jing.  By Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming.  Boston, Massachusetts, Yang's Martial Arts Academy, YMAA, 1986.  Glossary, 276 pages.  ISBN: Unknown.  The "Tai Chi Chuan Treatise" by Chang San-Feng is shown in Chinese, translated into English, and commented by Dr. Yang on pages 213- 216.  

Ancestor Lu's Hundred-Character Tablet    Commentary by Chang San-Feng.  

Chang San-Feng and Wudang Mountain   

Chang San-Feng: His Life and Deeds.  By Jack McGann and Christopher Dow.  An apocryphal biography of the legendary founder of Tai Chi Chuan.  An interesting short biography with some new stories about Master Zhang. 

Chang San-Feng, Taoist Master.  Brief biography, links, bibliography, quotations, and a study of the "Treatise on Tai Chi Chuan".  Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo.  Includes poems and commentary by Mike Garofalo.  Red Bluff, California, Green Way Research.

Chen Style Taijiquan

Chen Style Taijiquan: The Source of Taiji Boxing.  By Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim and David Gaffney.  Berkeley, CA, North Atlantic Books, 2002.  Index, charts, 224 pages.  ISBN: 1556433778.   Provides an excellent introduction to Chen style Taijiquan history and legends, outlines the major forms, discusses the philosophy and foundations of the art.  

Cloud Hands Blog   

Cloud Hands: Taijiquan and Qigong Website

Cold Mountain Buddhas (Han Shan)  

The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan: A Comprehensive Guide to the Principles and Practice.  By Wong Kiew Kit.  Shaftesbury, Dorset, Element, 1996.  Index, bibliography, 316 pages.  ISBN: 1852307927.  Zhang San Feng, pp. 18-22.

Commentary on Ancestor Lu's Hundred-Character Table by Chang, San-Feng

Cuttings: Haiku and Short Poems  

Dao House: Of Discourses and Dreams   "A compendium of links to great online Daoist (Taoist) resources."  An excellent selection of fine links with informative and fair annotations; all presented in an attractive and easy to read format.  The in-depth and creative collection of links are arranged by 18 topics.  

The Essence of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: The Literary Tradition.  Translated and edited by Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo; Martin Inn, Robert Amacker, and Susan Foe.  Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books, 1979, 1985.  100 pages.  ISBN: 0913028630.  The "T'ai Chi Ch'uan Ching" by Chang San-feng is translated on pages 17-27.

Evolution of Taijiquan from Shaolinquan.  Written by Sifu Zhang Wuji, Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam, Singapore. 

The Founder of Wudang Tai Chi Zhuan - Zhang San-Feng 

Heavenly Pattern of Boxing.  Article by Wong Yuen-Ming.  "Please check the new Journal of Cinese Martial Studies out of Hong Kong. The editor Wong Yuen-Ming has written a very interesting paper on the "Heavenly Pattern of Boxing", concerning non-governmental writings on Zhang Sanfeng. They have a website to find sources. (Email from Hermann, 8/11/2012)."

The History and Legend of Tai Chi Chuan.   By Dick Watson

History of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan
.   By Craig Rice.   

The Immortal Zhang San Feng.  Published by  This is just an unauthorized and unattributed  copy of an older copy of this webpage by Mike Garofalo.  

Index to a Short Review of the Art of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.  By R. W. Watson. 

Investigations into the Authenticity of the Chang San-Feng Ch'uan-Chi.  The Complete Works of Chang San-Feng.  Faculty of Asian Studies Monographs, 1997.  Australian National University.  Authored by Wong Shiu Hon. 

Ignorance, Legend and Tai Chi Chuan.  By Stanley Hemming.  Journal of the Chen Style Taijiquan Research Association of Hawaii, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 1-7.  23Kb.  

Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom.  By Jay Dungar.

Literati Tradition: The Origins of Taiji.  The Origins of Tai Chi - The Chang San Feng Camp.  By Bing YeYoung.  A well researched article.  Includes bibliographical references.  






Lost T'ai-chi Classics from the Late Ch'ing Dynasty.  By Douglas Wile.  State University of New York Press, 1996.  ISBN: 079142653X.  Index, charts, bibliography, 233 pages.  The most detailed and scholarly account of Tai Chi Chuan classics available.  Analysis and
translation of many new texts.  Chang San-feng texts are found on pp. 86-89, and discussion about the historicity of Chang San-feng on pp. 108-111.  

Master Chang San-Feng   Legends and Lore, Quotations, Links, Poems. 

Master Chang San Feng 

Meetings with Master Chang San Feng - Poetic Reflections   

Mount Wudang Abode of the Immortals and a Martial Monk

Mount Wudang and Wudang Kung Fu  

The Myth of Chang San Feng

The Mythical Life of Chang San Feng.   By John Hancock.  36K.  An excellent informative article.  

"A New Look at T'a Chi Origins."  By Alex Yeo.  T'ai Chi, Volume 25, No. 4, pp.21- 27, August, 2001.  

One Old Druid's Final Journey: Notebooks of the Librarian of Gushen Grove

The Origins of Tai Chi - The Chang San Feng Camp.  Literati Tradition: The Origins of Taiji. By Bing YeYoung.  A well researched article.  Includes bibliographical references.  36Kb. 


Return to the Main Index for this Webpage


Plexus: History and Myth   Interesting collection of facts and observations about Mt. Hua in China.  

Portraits of Chang San Feng:  FirstSecond - colorThirdFourthFifth   

Principles of Taijiquan by Chang San-Feng 

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices  

The Rootless Tree.  Attributed to Chang San-Feng. 

The Shambhala Guide to Taoism.   By Eva Wong.   Boston, Shambhala, 1997.  Index, appendices, 268 pages.  ISBN: 1570621691.  

Song of Silent Sitting.  Attributed to Taoist Master Chang San-Feng.  Taken from the book "The Secret of Training the Internal Elixir in the Tai Chi Art."  

Sun Style Taijiquan   

Sword (Jian)
:  Links, bibliography, quotes, notes.

T'ai-Chi.   By Cheng Man-ch’ing and Robert W. Smith. 1966.

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Ching.   By Chang San Feng.  Researched by Lee N. Scheele.

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Classics   Researched by Lee N. Scheele.

T’ai Chi Ch’uan For Health and Self-Defense.  Philosophy and Practice.  By Master T. T. Liang.  Edited and with a foreword by Paul B. Gallagher.  Revised, expanded edition, 1977. New York, Vintage Books, 1974, 1977.  133 pages.  ISBN: 0394724615.  Includes a translation and commentary on the Treatise, pp. 17-22. 

Tai Chi Chuan: History and Origins 

Tai-Chi Chuan in Theory and Practice.  By Kuo Lien-Ying.  1999.

T'ai Chi Classics.  By Waysun Liao.  New translations of three essential texts of T'ai Chi Ch'uan with commentary and practical instruction by Waysun Liao.  Illustrated by the author.  Boston, Shambhala, 1977, 1990. 210 pages.  ISBN: 087773531X.   A translation and commentary on the "Treatise of Master Chang San-Feng" is found on pages 87-95.

Tai Chi Master of all Masters

The Taijiquan Classics: An Annotated Translation.   By Barbara Davis.  Includes a commentary by Chen Wei-ming.  San Franscisco, North Atlantic Books, 2004.  Index, notes, bibliography, 212 pages.  ISBN: 1556434316.

Taijiquan Classics Compilation and Comparison.   By Almanzo "Lo Ma" Lamoureux and others.  Includes good notes on other translations of Master Chang's Treatise.  Sample.

Taijiquan History and Development.   By Peter Lim Tian Tek.  Outstanding collection of webpages.  

Taijiquan Jing by Zhang Sanfeng

Tai Ji Quan Treatise: Attributed to the Song Dynasty Daoist Priest Zhang Sanfeng.  By Stuart Alve Olson.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011.  Daoist Immortal Three Peaks Zhang Series.  120 pages.  ISBN: 978-1490345529. 

Taijiquan Treatise of Zhang San Feng.  Website of Sifu Wong Kiew Kit. 

Taoism, Paganism, Nature Mysticism, Plant Lore, and Magic   

Tao of Health, Longevity, and Immortality: The Teachings of Immortals Chung and Lu.  Translated with commentary by Eva Wong.  Boston, Shambhala Publications, 2000.  144 pages.  ISBN: 1570627258.

The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan:  Way to Rejuvenation.   By Jou, Tsung Hwa.   Edited by Shoshana Shapiro.  Warwick, New York, Tai Chi Foundation, 1980.  263 pages.  First Edition.  ISBN: 0804813574.  An excellent comprehensive textbook.  A Third Edition is now available.  Information on Master Chang on pages 2-10.  Mr. Jou has provided a translation and  commentary on the "Tai-Chi Chuan Lun" or "The Theory of Tai-Chi Chuan" by Chang San-Feng on pages 175- 180. 

Taoist Master Zhang San-Feng   Legends and Lore, Quotations, Links, Poems. 

Taoist Meditation: Methods for Cultivating a Healthy Mind and Body.  Translated by Thomas Cleary.  Boston, Shambhala Publications, 2000.  130 pages.  ISBN: 1570625670.  Includes Master Chang's "Taji Alchemy Secrets." 

Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) by Lao Tzu (Laozi)   Compilation and indexing by Mike Garofalo. 

Treatise on T'ai Chi Ch'uan by Zhang San-feng.

Treatise on Tai Chi.   Translated by Stuart Alve Olsen and found in "Tai Chi Chuan According to the I Ching."


Return to the Main Index for this Webpage


Valley Spirit Taijiquan  Red Bluff, California.  Instructor: Michael P. Garofalo.  

Vitality, Energy, Spirit:  A Taoist Sourcebook.   Translated and edited by Thomas Cleary.  Boston, Shambhala, 1991.  281 pages.  ISBN: 0877735190.   Translations of writing by Chang San-Feng on pages 183 - 216.

Wood Carving of Chang San-Feng from Tao Arts  

Writings on the Tao by Master Chang Sanfeng

Wudang Inner Boxing and Wudang Taoist Zhang San-feng  

Wudang Kung Fu 

Wudang Qigong: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Lessons, Quotes, Notes

Wudang Taijiquan: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotes, Notes

Wudang Mountains - Wikipedia  

Wudang Sword Forms: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotes, Notes, Forms

Wudang System and Taoism

Wudang Taoist Inner Alchemy Practice

Yang Style Taijiquan   

Zhang San-Feng   Legends and Lore, Quotations, Links, Poems. 

Zhang, San-Feng and the Ancient Origins of Taijiquan, Part I.  By David Silver.  A very interesting and informative article. 

Zhang, San-Feng and the Ancient Origins of Taijiquan, Part II.  By David Silver. 

Zhang San Feng Discussion Board

The Zhang San-Feng Myth by John Bracy

Zhang San-Feng Taijiquan

Zen and Taoist Poetry



Wu Tang Mountain Area




Return to the Main Index for this Webpage






Master Zhang San-Feng



"Much of the written material about Zhang Sanfeng is mythical, contradictory, or otherwise suspect.  For instance, he is reported to have been born in AD 960, AD 1247, and again in AD 1279.  He is described as being seven-feet tall, with the bones of a crane and the posture of a pine tree, having whiskers shaped like a spear, and being able to cover 1000 Li in a day."
-   Wikipedia


"Aside from being a wise sage, Master Chang is also known as the Father of the 'Grand Supreme Fist', Tai Chi Chuan.  Chang discovered that most Wu Kuen, that is to say martial forms, were too vigorous and relied too heavily upon the physical strength.  It is told that Master Chang, ever observant of Nature, once witnessed a combat between a snake and a bird.  The noise of this contest had disturbed the Master's devotions, and venturing forth from his modest hut, he witnessed the bird to attack the snake.  At each pass, the bird fiercely pecked and clawed at the snake, however, the reptile through suppleness and coiling of his form, was able to avoid the attacks and launch strikes of his own.  The bird in his turn circled and used his wings beat the snake aside when he struck.  Master Chang contemplated upon this experience.  That night, as the Master slept, Yu Huang, the 'Glorious Jade Emperor', visited Chang in his dreams and instructed him, teaching him the secrets of the Tao that the bird and the snake innately knew.  The next day, Chang sprang up from his sleep wide awake and inspired by his Celestial Visitor, and immediately set about the creation of a new Martial Art form that relied upon Internal Power, or Chi, at its root.  This art held as its foundation the Truth that 'yielding overcomes aggression' and 'softness overpowers hardness'.  In honor of his divine influences, Chang called his art Tai Chi Chuan, the 'Grand Supreme Fist'.  For this, Master Chang is know as the progenitor of the Wu Tang Ru (schools), so named because they come from Wu Tang Shan (mountain).  These are the Internal Arts, which are juxtaposed to the External Arts, such as Shao Lin Chuan, which relies upon the physical mastery of the body and development of great strengths.
-   John Hancock, 
The Mythical Life of Chang San Feng




Chang San-Feng, circa 1200 CE

Master Chang San-Feng Watches the Fight Between the Bird and Snake




"Most people recognize Chang San Feng as the founder of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. The Chang San Feng legend can be viewed as having three phases: phase I (prior to 1669) merely claims that Chang was a Taoist immortal; phase II (after 1669) claims that he founded the "internal" school of boxing; and phase III (post 1900) claims that Taijiquan originated with Chang. The Chang San Feng legend evolved during the Ming period (1368-1644), based on the close association of early Ming rulers with Taoism and Taoist priests, whose prophecies had supported the founder of the dynasty.  Little is known about Zhang except that he is described as an eccentric, itinerant hermit with magical powers, who died once, but came back to life, and whose life, based on varying accounts, spanned a period of over 300 years. According to legend, Chang San Feng created a new set of exercises now known as taijiquan in the Wudang Mountains."
-  Ottawa Chinese Martial Arts, Tai Chi History



"When the winter was really cold and the track outside the temple, where he practiced was covered with snow, Chang liked to go out and enjoy the snow-covered landscape. Where he had walked there were no footsteps - like no one had walked there. ...  It’s also said, that when he was meditating at night, his cultivated energy - the so-called Chi or Jing - would make his coat flap, and the walls 
around him would shake. This phenomenon indicates, that his energy had reached its peak.  He had obtained the state where his Chi had been transformed into Shen or Spirit."
-   Bjørn Darboe Nissen, Tai Chi Chuan and the Human Being   



"Some have raised the question of Chang San Feng's existence as there is much legendary material about him. He is recorded by reliable historical documents such as the 'Ming History' and 'The Ningpo Chronicles' which have no relation to martial arts literature as having existed and to have created Wudang Internal Boxing arts. This is in line with the beliefs held at the Wudang Temple itself and one can find much old material pertaining to Chang San Feng there. According to the available material, Chang lived at the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) and at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)."
-  Peter Lim Tian Tek, The Origins of Tai Chi Chuan   


"The legend of Zhang Sanfeng. therefore, evolved in three stages: prior to 1670 , he was known simply as a Daoist immortal; after 1670 he was credited as the creator of the "internal" martial arts; and after 1900, as the founder of Taijiquan.  Emperor Chengzu (1403-1424) contributed greatly to the legend.  Zhang was canonized in 1459.  The earliest extant reference to Zhang as a master in martial arts appeared in1670 in the Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan, composed by Huang Zongxi, when Chinese martial art was categorized into an "external" school of Shaolin originated by the Buddhist monk Damo, and an "internal" school initiated by Daoist immortal Zhang Sanfeng of Mount Wudang.  Li I-yu in his Brief Preface to Taijiquan (1867) referred to Zhang as the originator of Taijiquan."
- Chen Style Taijiquan: The Source of Taiji Boxing.  By Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim and David Gaffney, p. 28.   



    "Examples of myths believed by large numbers to be true includes the story of a man named Zhang San-Feng as the originator of Tai Chi Chuan and the relationship of internal martial arts to the Wu Tang monastery. In the case of Zhang San-Feng (also written Chang San-Fang), although often referred to as the founder of Tai Chi, historical evidence does not support this assertion.  According to martial art historian Douglas Wile, Zhang was first suggested as the originator of Tai Chi in the middle 1800s. The legend that developed around the Zhang myth is a good entry point for our discussion of legend mistakenly represented as factual. According to story, Zhang is believed to have developed a fighting style based on his observations of, or dreaming about, a fight between a bird of prey and a snake. However, historians have been unable to ascertain if Zhang, supposedly an alchemist who lived (depending on the source) in either the twelfth, thirteenth or fourteenth centuries, ever truly existed. In contrast, historical evidence supports the founding of Tai Chi Chuan as traceable to the Chen Family Village (or possibly the Yang Family)-about three hundred years ago.
    In much the same way as the Zhang legend, in contrast to what Chinese historians tell us, the legend of the Wu Tang monastery long ago captured the imagination of the writers of Chinese comic books and filmmakers as the place where the internal martial arts were founded and popularly believed to represent a sort of yin -yang counterinfluence to the famous Shaolin monastery. An even bigger mess unfolds when one discusses "secret arts" said to derive from the supposed merging of Buddhist and Taoist "internal energy" practices. Although the popular fable holds that secret methods were exchanged between Buddhist monks and Taoist recluses, it is problematic that first, aside from extremely rare incidences, such as possibly Chan (Zen) Buddhism, no evidence supports the merging of Buddhism and Taoism into a secret chi energy based cult, and second, with the exception of Indian and Tibetan tantric practices (see chapter six, section three), there are no secret Buddhist energetic practices and no evidence supporting the pop belief that monks secretly practiced and merged separate "energetic" traditions."
The Zhang San-Feng Myth by John Bracy



"Damo wrote the two classics on changing the tendons and washing the marrow.  He taught men to practice this in order to strengthen their bodies.  Then we come to Yue Wumu Wang of the Song Dynasty.  He added to the discovery of two classics of body nurturing.  He created Xingyi Quan and directed its usage.  The principles of Bagua Quan are also contained within.  This is the origin of the inner family fist arts.  During the reign of Yuan Shunti, Zhang Sanfeng practiced Daoism on Wudang Mountain.  He met a teacher of internal alchemy.  Both of them practiced martial arts that used Post-natal strength.  The function was more than proper.  However, their arts did not harmonize with Qi inside.  They had the potential to cause injury to the Dan and injure the original Qi.  Therefore, they incorporated the nurturing methods of the first two classics and use the whole character of the form of the Taiji circle.  They included
the principles of the Ho Diagram and the Luo Book.  Pre and Post many changes.  Flowing with natural principles.  Created the Taiji Martial Arts.  It explains the mysteries of nurturing the body.  This martial art borrows the form of the Post-natal.  It does not use Post-natal strength.  In moving and stillness, it pure uses natural.  It does not esteem animal vitality.  The idea is for the Qi to transform into spirit."
-  Sun Lu Tang, 1919, Study of Taiji Boxing
Translated by Joseph Crandall, 2000, p. 6



"The 'Cave of the Immortal Chang" at West Pass is traditionally regarded as the site where Chang San-feng realized immortality.  The Fu-kou Gazetteer says that the people of Fu-kou believe Chang San-feng left his body in the T'ai-chi Temple on the Wu-tang Mountains.  An image of him may still be seen there.  He wore a copper cymbal as a straw hat, which he allowed the people of the Fu-kou to strike without becoming angry, for he was very good-natured.  The people of Wu-yang also believe that Chang San-feng was a native of Wu-yang and that they have the exclusive privilege of striking his hat."
Lost T'ai-chi Classics from the Late Ch'ing Dynasty, translated by Douglas Wile, p. 110.



"In 1990 the magazine 'The Soul of Wushu' published a series of articles entitled 'The Original Taijiquan'.  One contribution came from the chief Taoist monk of the Temple Baijun (White Cloud) in Beijing. 'An Shenyuan'. When questioned by reporters, remarked that,  "In the school of Taoism, apart from Zhang Sanfeng, there were many other talented people who have contributed much to the formulation and development to Taijiquan."
-   R. V. Watson,  Index to a Short Review of the Art of Taijiquan    



"Another Zhang San Feng was a native of I-Chou in LiaoTung Province. His scholar name was Chuan Yee and Chun Shee. He lived in Yuan dynasty (1279-1368).  The Chinese old book Ming History bearing records available in the monastery on Wudang Mountain does indeed mention him. Descriptions picture him as being seven feet tall, with the bones of a crane and the posture of a pine tree, whiskers shaped like a spear, winter and summer wearing the same bamboo hat, carrying a horsehair duster and being able to cover 1000 Li in a day, sometimes eating 50 Kg food in one meal, sometimes keeping fasting as long as several months, possessing amazing memory as to recite a scripture fluently after reading it just one time.  The early legends about Zhang San-Feng are linked with activities of Emperor Chengzu (1403-1424) who searched for Zhang for many years without results. By 1459, Zhang had been declared an Immortal and, as with most saints, stories of his miraculous powers became part of the folklore in the Wudang Mountain area. There is a fairly long tradition amongst Wundang Mountain martial artists and Taoists that attributes the development of soft style martial arts to Chang San-Feng and his disciples. In 1670, Huang Zongxi wrote a book called Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan in which Zhang San-Feng was called the founder of internal martial arts practiced near Mount Wudang.
-   Wudang Taoist Inner Alchemy Practice   





"T'ai Chi Ch'üan's theories and practice are therefore believed by some schools to have been formulated by the Taoist monk Chang San-feng in the 12th century, a time frame fitting well with when the principles of the Neo-Confucian school were making themselves felt in Chinese intellectual life. Therefore the didactic story is told that Chang San-feng as a young man studied Tao Yin breathing exercises from his Taoist teachers and martial arts at the Buddhist Shaolin monastery, eventually combining the martial forms and breathing exercises to formulate the soft or internal principles we associate with T'ai Chi Ch'üan and related martial arts.  Its subsequent fame attributed to his teaching, Wu Tang monastery was known thereafter as an important martial center for many centuries, its many styles of internal kung fu preserved and refined at various Taoist temples."
Hans Wolfgang  



    "The art Zhang Sanfeng evolved was certainly better and more profound than the one he had learnt. I believe that Zhang Sanfeng himself did not give different names to the art before and the art after his evolution. He just called them, or it as to him they were the same art, “Shaolinquan”.
    Instead of practicing martial art forms (gongfu), energy exercises (qigong) and meditation (chan) separately, Zhang Sanfeng integrated all these three aspects into one unity. This was a tremendous contribution to the whole of kungfu history, for which he is rightly honored as the First Patriarch of the Internal Arts. We in Shaolin Wahnam are particularly grateful to this great master for this development.
    Later on, to differentiate the distinct type of Shaolinquan practiced at the Wudang Mountain where Zhang Sanfeng evolved it from the original version at the Shaolin Temple at Henan, people called it “Wudang Shaolinquan. Over the years, this term was shortened to just Wudangquan. Much later when the great master Chen Wang Ting employed yin-yang principles from the Taiji concept to explain its principles, people called it “Taijiquan”."
-   Evolution of Taijiquan from Shaolinquan.  Written by Sifu Zhang Wuji, Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam, Singapore. 



    "Joseph Lee in 'The History of Chinese Science and Technology' remarked, "The name of Zhang Sanfeng is now firmly related with Taijiquan, a major school of Chinese Wushu". He goes on to say, "if one really wants to track down the roots of Taijiquan one cannot fail to value Zhang Sanfengs theistic thoughts on Taoism"  In 'The Origins of Wudang Taiji' Du Yuwan says, "Taijiquan is generally said to be passed down from Zhang Sanfeng, but when we get down to the roots we find its beginnings further back in history".
The History and Legend of Tai Chi Chuan 



"Chang San-feng is one of the greatest figures of later Taoist history and legend, believed to be master of all the arts and arcana of the Way.  He is particularly famous as the alleged originator of the popular exercise system know as t'ai-chi-ch'üan (taijiquan).  Like Ancestor Lü, Chang San-feng is also believed to have attained immortality in more than a purely spiritual sense, and to have reappeared in the world after his supposed physical death.  The works attributed to him, again like those of Ancestor Lü, are also evidently mixed with later additions and in some cases may be viewed as generic products of a school rather than works of an individual author.  The Chang San-feng literature shows an amalgamation of Southern and Northern Schools of Complete Reality Taoism, as well as traces of older Taoist sects practicing magical arts."
-   Thomas Cleary, Vitality, Energy, Spirit: A Taoist Sourcebook, 1991, p. 183



"Zhang Sanfeng was a semi-mythical Chinese Taoist priest who is believed by some to have achieved immortality, said variously to date from either the late Song dynasty, Yuan dynasty  or Ming dynasty. His name was allegedly 張君寶 before he became a Taoist.

His Taoist name in Traditional Chinese characters is 張三丰, or 張三豐. Both are Zhāng Sānfēng in pinyin and Chang1 San1-feng1 in Wade-Giles.

Much of the written material about him is mythical, contradictory, or otherwise suspect.  For instance, he is reported by different people to have been born either in 960, 1247, or in 1279.  He is described as being seven-feet tall, with the bones of a crane and the posture of a pine tree, having whiskers shaped like a spear, and being able to cover 1000 li in a day (roughly 580 km or 350 miles). He is reputed to have worn a straw hat, but one village reports that the hat was actually a cymbal, which only residents of the village (famous for manufacturing cymbals) had permission to sound upon meeting him.

Another tradition associated with the name has him an expert in the White Crane and Snake styles of Chinese martial arts as well as in the use of the Chinese straight sword or jian.  According to relatively recent (19th century) documents preserved in the Yang and Wu families, the name of his Taoist teacher was Hsü Hsüan-p'ing, said to be a Tang dynasty poet.

Many today consider Zhang Sanfeng, if not to have been a verifiable historical figure, to be a legendary culture hero of sorts, credited as having originated the concepts of nei chia; soft, internal martial arts, specifically T'ai Chi Ch'uan, as a result of a Neo-Confucian  
syncretism of Chan Buddhist Shaolin Ch'uan with his mastery of Taoist Tao Yin (qigong) principles. He is also associated in legend with the Taoist monasteries at Wudangshan in Hubei province.

Some sources record two Chinese emperors sending missions to Zhang Sanfeng to ask for his advice, although neither mission is reported to have found him.

Owing to his mythical appearance, his name frequently appeared in Chinese novels and wuxia films of swordsmen as a spiritual teacher and master of martial arts.

Today, Chinese readers are most acquainted with Jin Yong's version of Zhang Sanfeng, thanks to the popularity of his wuxia novels. In his book The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber, Zhang Sanfeng was a former Shaolin disciple in the late Song Dynasty, and born on May 15, 1247 (Day 9 of month 4 in Chinese calendar). He left Shaolin Temple to establish the Taoist monasteries in Wudangshan. In the book he had seven disciples, and was alive until the late Yuan Dynasty.

The T'ai Chi Ch'uan families who ascribe the foundation of their art to Zhang traditionally celebrate his birth date as the 9th day of the 3rd Chinese lunar month."

Wikipedia - Free Online Encyclopedia (Dynamic - Content Changes)






Wu Tang Mountain (Wudangshan) 
Taoist Temple





"The peerless master moves with his group from place to place in the mountains.  His small band contains two highly advanced American disciples.  After Babaji has been in one locality for some time he says, 'Dera danda uthao,' 'Let us lift our camp and staff.'  He carries a symbolic danda (bamboo staff).  His words are the signal for moving with his group instantaneously to another place.  He does not always employ this method of astral travel; sometimes he goes on foot from peak to peak."
-  Told by Swami Kebalananda to Paramhansa Yogananda in 1920, Autobiography of a Yogi, p. 294.  It is interesting to compare stories about saintly masters who live in mountainous regions and are Maha-avatars or Immortals.  These Superior Beings who have transcended the flesh, can perform amazing feats and miracles (siddhis), and possess great spiritual insight.   Babaji is said to cast no shadow,  and can walk on snow or mud and not leave any footprints.   Jesus Christ has some of these amazing magical talents like disappearing in a crowd, producing food from empty baskets, changing water into wine, walking on water, curing and consoling the sick, and being immortal.   High level wizards also have comparable magical powers.



"According to Taoist priest Qian Xuan's research on Wudang martial arsts, Zhang Sanfeng over a period of time variously created Wu Ji Quan 12 postures, Tai He Quan 8 postures, and Taijiquan 16 postures.  He later fused the characteristics of all three arts onto one, 
forming Taijiquan 36 postures.  This boxing set was further refined over the generations, forming the present day 108 postures "Sanfeng Taijiquan" or "Wudang Taijiquan."  It is recorded that and early patriarch was Zhang Songxi (Zhang Sanfeng's disciple).  Two
sentences are also recored - "Taijiquan, 13 postures" and "Thirteen postures make Taijiquan complete."
-  Alex Yao, 2001, A New Look at T'a Chi Origins  



Chang Sanfeng



"Zhang Sanfeng saw a burst of golden light where the clouds meet the mist-shrouded peaks.  A thousand rays of marvelous qi spun and danced in the Great Void.  The Immortal [Zhang Sanfeng] hurried to the spot but saw nothing.  He searched where the golden light had touched down and found a mountain stream and cave.  Approaching the mouth of the cave, two golden snakes with flashing eyes emerged.  The Immortal swished his duster and the golden light came down.  He gazed on it and realized that it was two long spears about seven feet five inches.  They seemed to be made of rattan, but were not rattan; seemed of wood, but were not of wood.  Their quality was such that swords could not harm them and they could be soft or hard at will.  A rare glow emanated from within [the cave], and looking deeper, he found a book.  Its title was Taiji Stick-Adhere Spear and its destiny was to be transmitted to the world.  He grasped the principles of the book and analyzed all of its marvels.  All of the words in the book were written in the form of poems and songs.  Today we cannot understand all the principles and marvels of the spear, but Master Zhang extracted the essence of every word and transformed them into a series of postures.  All men can now study and learn this art."
-  Quoted by Barbara Davis, The Taijiquan Classics, 2004, p. 29
   Translated by Dougleas Wile, T'ai-chi Touchstones, 1993, p. 138.    



"A Native of I-Chou in Liao Tung Province. An external master and court official of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), other sources state he was born later in the Sung dynasty (960-1279), who upon retirement retreated with disgust from the world to a Taoist monastery on Wu Tang Mountain, where he acquired his Taoist name of San Feng.  He is said to have learned T'ai Chi Ch'uan in a dream, or after watching a bird and a snake fight.  More likely, Chang applied the Taoist health principles and knowledge of energy circulation to his vast ability in external kung fu, thus creating something really different - a martial art that dos not use muscle power as a primary source of movement, but Chi. Records available in the monastery on Wu Tang Mountain do indeed mention him.  Descriptions picture him as being seven feet tall, with the bones of a crane and the posture of a pine tree (whatever that is supposed to mean), whiskers 
shaped like a spear, winter and summer wearing the same bamboo hat, carrying a horsehair duster and being able to cover 1000 Li in a day."
-   Master Chang San Feng  



"A second legend attributes the same Zhang Sanfeng to be living in the Yuan Dynasty. In this story, while studying the mysteries of Taoism and trying to get to grips with the secrets of immortality, he observed the posturing of numerous animals.  One day he saw a snake and crane fighting and was inspired, by the Yin and Yang qualities of their attacks and evasions, to develop the art of Taijiquan.  So Zhang Sanfeng is accredited with restructuring martial arts along inspirational lines.  As a Taoist monk, he connects the art with the philosophy of Yin and Yang, the I'Ching and its Paqua diagrams.  The connection between Taijiquan, Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching are implicit in the legend of Zhang Sanfeng."
Dick Watson   



"Zhang Sanfeng was a semi-mythical Chinese Taoist priest, who is believed by some to have achieved immortality. His legend varied from either the late Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty or Ming Dynasty. His name was Zhang Junbao 張君寶, before he became a Taoist. (Zhang Sanfeng—simplified Chinese: 张三丰; ancient Chinese: 張三丰; pinyin: Zhāng Sānfēng; English spelling: Chang San-feng; variant 張三豐. Pronunciation keeps the same.) 
    As a legendary cultural hero, Zhang Sanfeng is credited by modern practicers as having originated the concepts of neijia (內家), in other words, the soft, internal martial arts. To put it concretely, the Taichi Quan is one of the neijia kungfu, which is the result of a Neo-Confucian syncretism of Zen Buddhist Shaolin martial arts combined with the principles of his Taoist neigong. In legends, he is also associated with the Taoist monasteries at Wudang Mountains in Hubei province. Stories from the 17th century onward recorded that he initiated the internal martial arts. In the 19th century and later, the credit for the creation of Taichi Quan went to him.
    In addition, Zhang Sanfeng is said to have been an expert in the White Crane and Snake styles of Chinese martial arts, as well as in the use of the Chinese straight sword. According to the documents preserved within the Yang and Wu family's archives, the name of Zhang Sanfeng's master was Xu Xuanping 許宣平, who was said to be a hermit poet and Taoist Tao Yin master in Tang Dynasty.
    The Taichi Quan families who ascribe the foundation of their art to Zhang generally, and celebrate his birthday on the 9th day of the 3rd Chinese lunar month. Owing to his legendary status, his name frequently appears in Chinese novels and action films as a spiritual teacher and master of martial arts."
Wudang Kungfu Foundation Founder Zhang Sanfeng


Return to the Main Index for this Webpage


"Mount Wudang, also known as Can Shang Mountain or Tai He Mountain, is located in the Qin Ling Mountain Range of northwestern Hubei Province.  Because the scenery around Mount Wudang is so majestic and beautiful, it has been given the name 'The Famous 
Mountain Under Heaven.'  Wudang is a major center for the sudy of Daoism and self-cultivation.

The legendary founder of Wudang wushu was Zhang San Feng. Zhang San Feng was a Daoist who lived in these mountains to cultivate the Dao during the Ming Dynasty.  Zhang San Feng was born in 1247 A.D. in the area of what is known today as Liao Ning.  Zhang San Feng is a very famous figure in the history of Chinese wushu.  His martial abilities and healing techniques were superb and he was known to have cured many people of illnesses.  This brought about great admiration from the common people.  The emperor of the Ming Dynasty erected a monument on the mountain to commerate the contributions of Zhang San Feng.  During Zhang's younger years he met Daoist Huo Lung (Fire Dragon) with whom he studied the Dao.  After attaining the Dao, Zhang moved to Wudang Mountain and cultivated an additional nine years.  Many historical documents suggest that Zhang San Feng was the person responsible for synthesizing the wushu of the common people with the internal methodology and philosphical principles of Daoism.  Wudang wushu is primarily known for its internal styles.

Zhang San Feng created Wudang wushu by researching the basic theory of Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, and the Eight Diagrams (Ba Gua).  Wudang wushu has a very close relationship with the theories of Taiji, Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, the Eight Diagrams, and the Nine Palaces.  Zhang San Feng was able to incorporate the Daoist practice of changing the Essence into Internal Energy , Internal Energy into Spirit, and Spirit into Emptiness to form the theory of Wudang wushu. "
-   Introduction to Wudang Martial Arts   



Return to the Main Index for this Webpage






Chang San-Feng, circa 1200 CE


Chang San-Feng
Patriarch of the Wu-Tang-Shan Sect of Complete Reality Taoism
"Chang the Immortal, Who Understands the Subtleties and Reveals the Mysteries."
The Shambhala Guide to Taoism by Eva Wong, p. 89






"When your nature is stable, energy naturally returns.
When energy returns, Elixir spontaneously crystallizes, 
In the pot pairing water and fire.
Yin and yang arise, alternating over and over again,
Everywhere producing the sound of thunder.
White clouds assemble on the summit,
Sweet dew bathes the polar mountain.
Having drunk the wine of longevity,
You wander free; who can know you?
You sit and listen to the stringless tune,
You clearly understand the mechanism of creation."
-   Ancestor Lu, Ancestor Lü's Hundred-Character Tablet
    Translated by Thomas Cleary, Vitality, Energy, Spirit:  A Taoist Sourcebook, 1991, p. 185.
    Chang San-feng's Commentary on Ancestor Lu's Hundred-Character Tablet, pp. 186-191.  




"There are 781 male immortals and 120 female immortals recorded in Lishi zhenxian tidao tondjian 歷世真仙道體通鑒, or a History of True Immortals edited by Taoist Zhao Daoyi 趙道一 in 1276. “Wudang alchemist Zhang Sanfeng” is nowhere to be found. This work is collected in the Taoist Canon. (Zhao Daoyi)  There are 21 Wudang Mountain Taoist Immortals specifically recorded in Wudang fudi congzhenji 武當福地總真集, or the Complete Biographies of Immortals from Auspicious Wudang Mountain edited by Wudang Taoist Liu Daoming 劉道明 in 1291. “Wudang alchemist Zhang Sanfeng” again is nowhere to be found. The work also is collected in the Taoist Canon. (Liu Daoming)  In Yuan yitong zhi 元一統志, or a Cohesive History of Yuan Dynasty edited by Bei Bolan 孛勃蘭 and Yue Xuan 岳鉉, there are 11 prominent Buddhist and Taoist Adepts recorded, “Wudang alchemist Zhang Sanfeng” is not to be found. The editing of this work began in 1285, and completed in 1303. (Bei Bolan)  We find no traces of “Wudang alchemist Zhang Sanfeng” in the following related local Gazetteers: Xiangyang junzhi 襄陽郡志, or Xiangyang Prefecture Annuls, (Zhang Heng) Xiangyang fuzhi 襄陽府志, or Xiangyang Prefecture Annuls, (Hu Jia) Huguang tujingzhi 湖廣圖經志, or the Annuls of Charts and Records of Huguang, (Wu Yanju) Huguang congzhi 湖廣總志, or the Cohesive Annuls of Huguang, (Xu Xuemo) Xiangyang fuzhi 襄陽府志, or Xiangyang Prefecture Annuls, (Chen E) Junzhouzhi 均州志, or Junzhou Annuls (Dang Juyi), Junzhou xuzhi 均州續志, or the Continued Junzhou Annuls, (Jia Hongzhao) Dayue taihe shanzhi 大岳太和山志, or the Great Taihe Mountain History, (Shen Dan) Dayue taihe shanzhi 大岳太和山志, or the Great Taihe Mountain History, (Lu Chonghua) and Dayue taihe shanzhilue 大岳太和山志略, or the Concise Taihe Mountain Annuls. (Wang Gai)."  
Literati Tradition: The Origins of Taiji. By Bing YeYoung.




A person calling themselves "Sifu" wrote to me on 1/24/06, and criticized this webpage as follows:

"Chang San-Feng was real  It's very disrespectful to "portray" Chang San-Feng as a "imagery” figure.  Please don't have false infomation on your Web Page...  He did exist, the so called common years that he lived (1247-1447AD) is just a “estimated range”. Chang San-Feng (also known by different spellings ex. Zhang Sanfeng) was the “original creator” of the 13 original movements of Tai Chi Chuan.  One just has to look, at the old book of “The Tai Chi Classics”, to see his teachings.  It not only, insults the original master, of all forms Tai Chi Chuan, but it also shows lack of knowledge, history, and understanding of the art. I hope you remove all 
false references about him, from your website. I am from direct Yang family lineage. Thank You for reading the above. Sifu"
[I did write back to "Sifu," however the email [] bounced.  I do believe that this webpage does try to give a fair and reasonable accounting of the stories and legends about Master Zang San Feng.  Many experts and scholars argue that Zhang San Feng is a legendary figure, an "imaginary" inventor of internal martial arts.  Wishful thinking, however, is fun.]



    "It was said that Zhang-Sanfeng, originally named Zhang-Quanyi, nicknamed Sanfeng, was born in Yizhou City, Liaoning Province and was tall and strong, with tortoise shape and swan bone, big ears and round eyes, hard beards and moustaches. He always wore a coir raincoat and a pair of straw scandals. No matter in summer or winter, he lived in the lonely and deep mountains or traveled in the crowded cities. He could remember what he had read just by one look and talked nothing but moral, kindness, faith and filial piety. He could talk with the gods and understand Taoism, so he could forecast the future and solve all the difficulties in the world. He could live without a meal for five days, even for two or three months; He could penetrate the mountain and drive the stones when he was happy; he lived in the snow when he was tired; He traveled here and there without any trace, so all the people at that time were amazed at him and thought him one of gods.   
    Wudang Taoist medical cultivation has a long history, especially the inner medicine, which is to cultivate the breath into medicine so as to make one strong and healthy, and prolong the lifespan by way of breathing. Zhang-Sanfeng had a profound cultivation in inner medicine. He said in On Taoism"To cultivate the mood before cultivating the medicine; to cultivate the character before cultivating the good medicine; when the mind is steady, the medicine will come naturally by itself; when the mood and character have cultivated, the good medicine will be in reach", which figuratively explained the progress of medicine cultivation. He had written many books on medicine such as The Gist of Gold Medicine, The Secrecy of Gold Medicine, A Song of Inner Medicine, Twenty-four Principles of Rootless Trees, Taoist Song of Earth Element and Real Immortal, which had been published in the Ming Dynasty. Later, the people had compiled them into The Full Collection of Zhang-Sanfeng's Works, with eight volumes.
    Zhang-Sanfeng was not only profound in medicine cultivation but also in martial art, especially good at boxing and swordplay. He, on the base of Taoist theories, such as the naturalness of Taoist theories, keeping in a humble position and so on, had combined Taoist internal exercises, guarding skills of regimen, boxing acts of martial art, military sciences of militarists into one, and then created Wudang Boxing, which takes the internal exercises as the body, attacking as the purpose, regimen as the first important thing, self-protection as the main principle, and to defeat the tough with a tender act, charge the active by the still movement and attack the opponent with his own force, strike only after the opponent has struck. From the Ming Dynasty, martial art world have respected Zhang-Sanfeng as the founder of Wudang Inner Boxing and Taiji Boxing. Wudang martial art, through many generations' succession and development, has become one important school among China martial art and spread in the folk with a long and profound influence."
The Founder of Wudang Tai Chi Zhuan - Zhang San-Feng 



"Chan San-Feng has become a mythical figure, but so has Jesus, and look what is said about everything he did!  I think that Chan San-Feng did exist, as Taijiquan was passed from Master to Student heart to heart, so it must have started in a human heart.  It is just that the early forms of religion were magical and mythical in nature; in the verbal story telling tradition.  I am sure they were both real characters. I have also studied the San-Feng Taijiquan from the Wudang tradition with Máster Tian Liyang from Wudang since 2000.  So I have a bit of direct background knowledge, most of it is in German.  If you want to know more about the subject I can recommend "Wudang – Mountain of the Immortals" from Abbot Wang Guangde, which also has an English version."
-  Philip Stanley, Qigong, email 1/30/06 to Mike Garofalo 



  "While kungfu was developed as an external, combative form of physical discipline, Zhang San-feng (living sometime in the period 960-1279 AD) was creating a technique that would make him a legendary patriarch of latter-day Tai Chi Chuan. He is often attributed to the time of Song Dynasty, though the most reliable and accepted evidence indicates that Zhang San-feng was the former magistrate and scholar of Confucianism for Chung Shan County, and was a native from Yi Zhou in today's east Liaoning Province. According to this evidence, he was born on the ninth day of the fourth moon of 1247 AD, in the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368AD).
        His fame became established after he had completed a ten-year devotion at the Shaolin Monastery where, besides studying the Chinese Buddhist doctrines, he learned the " exoteric martial arts," wai kung . Zhang San-feng went on to study Taoism at the K'o Hung Mountain Monastery, which led him to wander as a hermit until he reached the Taoist enclave at Wudang Shan, sometimes referred to found in Hubei Province. Here he founded the first major esoteric of internal school, nei kung , of martial arts. This was the birthplace of modern Tai Chi Chuan.
        A Chinese Merlin, Zhang San-feng laid out the initial moves of the Tai chi form, based on inspirational and dreams he had experienced. Composed much later, the Tai Chi classics state that one night he dreamed of a Taoist Immortal advising him to reform his strenuous training methods, to relax the rigors he had developed as part of his earlier Shaolin training. The message of the dream troubled him for a long time, until one day he spotted a snake and a crane in deadly combat.    
    The snake and the crane also have a magical significance in the West.  Having deciphered obscure Western alchemical texts, Jung found that the snake symbolized the "chthonic," with earth energy represented as a dragon or physics, which makes up the element equivalent to yin in Chinese philosophy. Distinct from this creeping reptile, the crane stands for the aerial, the spiritual, psychic energy that is the yang principle. Therefore, the snake and the crane present two principle opposites of Nature in both Chinese and European alchemy. In Tai Chi Chuan, the Snake Creeps down has a martial application, but it also signifies the descent into Underworld. "Redemption" takes places in the next move, when the " Golden Bird (crane) stands on One leg," portraying the ascent of the spirit. These movements, then, comprise paradise lost and found"
Zhang San Feng, Wudang Taoist Culture Center.



"After verification according to different historical materials, Zhan Sa-Feng, with the original name Zhan Jun-Bao and the Taoist name Yu-Xu Zi, is now known to be of the Song Dynasty.  He was indifferent to fame and wealth and had no interest in the official career given by the authorities.  After declining an official position and dispatching his property to his clan, he traveled around the country.
He stayed at Hua Mountain in northwestern China for several years to deepen his own self-training.  Afterwards, he left Hua Mountain and lived on Wu-Dan Mountain in Central China, leading a hermit's life.  Zhan Sa-Feng was versed in Shao-Lin Gong-Fu from a young age.  After contacting the internal Gong-Fu transmitted from the line of Li Dong-Feng and Jia De-Shen, he changed his ways and turned to internal cultivation.  He concluded four principles about his own system:  First, control motion with repose.  Second, conquer hardness with softness. Third, surmount swiftness with uniformity.  Fourth, overcome the many with the few.  Thus Zhan Sa-Feng composed a complete internal Gong-Fu system.  Because this internal Gong-Fu was explained with ancient Tai-Ji principles, it is called Tai-Ji Gong-Fu by the people."
-   Albert Liu, Nei Jia Quan: Internal Martial Arts, 2004, p. 318






    "Taoism has a complicated system of immortals and deities. They fall roughly into three categories: natural gods, such as those of the sun, moon, wind, rain, and earth; deified mortals of great merit, such as role models for fidelity, filial piety, benevolence and justice; and daily functional gods, such as the door, kitchen and fire gods. Each has its own characteristics, but all represent justice and benevolence and have the common purpose of helping the needy and punishing evildoers.
    Unique among the large body of immortals believed to live on Wudang Mountain was the martial Taoist monk, Zhang Sanfeng. He could walk 500 kilometers daily, fast for months at a time and vanish and reappear in an instant, according to The History of the Ming Dynasty. The founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty Zhu Yuanzhang had tried unsuccessfully to employ Zhang Sanfeng in his service, but the monk was notoriously difficult to pin down. Emperor Zhu Di wrote an extraordinarily modest and respectful letter to Zhang Sanfeng, requesting a meeting, but Zhang declined. No mortal that valued his life would have dared to behave in such an offhand manner towards the emperor, but as Zhu Di regarded Zhang Sanfeng as a deity he was not affronted. On the contrary, to express his sincerity, the emperor ordered construction of the Yuzhengong (Meeting the True Man Palace) on Wudang Mountain and the enshrinement of a statue of Zhang Sanfeng in its main hall. This unheard of imperial honor caused a storm of speculation as to the emperor’s motivation for such an act of obeisance. Some thought it was because Zhang Sanfeng was actually a living deity versed in the arts of necromancy and distillation of life-prolonging elixirs. Others surmised that Zhang knew the whereabouts of the missing emperor Jianwen, whose reappearance was the emperor’s greatest dread. Since the Zhu Di epoch, however, Zhang Sanfeng has been regarded as a great martial artist and founder of Wudang kungfu, rather than immortal.  
    Wudang kungfu is equal in reputation to Shaolin kungfu, the former being generally accepted as the southern, defensive and the latter as the northern, offensive school of martial arts. One of Zhang Sanfeng’s most esteemed contributions to Chinese martial arts was his unequivocal statement that the ultimate purpose of practicing kungfu was to maintain physical health. Taoists were popularly associated with elixirs and alchemy, but Zhang Sanfeng was one outstanding exception. In a letter to Emperor Zhu Di he wrote, “It is better not to believe in alchemy and alchemists….. The amplitude of Dao and abundance of virtue are the best remedies, and a serene mind and absence of desires bring longevity.” Zhang created and practiced an “inner elixir kungfu,” known today as qigong, or respiratory kungfu -- a breathing technique that aligns the body and the spirit."
-   Mount Wudang Abode of the Immortals and a Martial Monk



"In the Chinese history there existed two men called Zhang San Feng. One was born in the Sung dynasty (960-1279), who upon retirement retreated with disgust from the world to a Taoist monastery on Wudang Mountain, where he acquired his Taoist name of San Feng.  He is said to have learned T'ai Chi Ch'uan in a dream, or after watching a bird and a snake fight. More likely, Zhang applied the Taoist health principles and knowledge of energy circulation to his vast ability in external kung fu, thus creating something really different - a martial art that dos not use muscle power as a primary source of movement, but Chi.  Later he became an accomplished Inner KungFu master after long term practice with several teachers. Therefore, he was regarded as the common founder of all Taichi boxing schools.
Another Zhang San Feng was a native of I-Chou in LiaoTung Province. His scholar name was Chuan Yee and Chun Shee.  He lived in Yuan dynasty (1279-1368).  The Chinese old book Ming History bearing records available in the monastery on Wudang Mountain does indeed mention him. Descriptions picture him as being seven feet tall, with the bones of a crane and the posture of a pine tree, whiskers shaped like a spear, winter and summer wearing the same bamboo hat, carrying a horsehair duster and being able to cover 1000 Li in a day, sometimes eating 50 Kg food in one meal, sometimes keeping fasting as long as several months, possessing amazing memory as to recite a scripture fluently after reading it just one time."
Mount Wudang and Wudang Kung Fu



"Chang San-feng was born sometime between 600 and 1600 AD, perhaps sometime during the Sung Dynasty, or maybe the Yuan Dynasty, but exactly at midnight on the fourth of April, 1247, and he lived precisely between the years 960 and 1126. His family came from I-Chou in the Liao-tung Peninsula.  He spent many years at the Temple of the Jade Void, becoming expert in Shaolin kung fu. Early on, it was discovered that he could recite Taoist classics after only a single reading. As he traveled, he became wise in the meditative and martial arts.  At the age of sixty-seven, he retired to the Wu Tang Mountains, where he built himself a cottage. At rest, he meditated, returning to the Original Source; when active, he roamed the Three Mountains and the Five Peaks, gleaning the finest elements and subtle chi of Heaven and Earth and circulating them with breathing exercises. During this time, his reputation spread far and wide. The first Ming emperor sent a messenger to find him and bring him to court, but the errand was unsuccessful.
    Throughout his life, Chang took pains to conceal his achievements. He did not want to appear at court and so worked hard to seem mad. Everyone agrees that he did not keep himself neat and clean; Chang Lar-tar (Sloppy Chang) or La T’a (Dirty Fellow) often acted as if no one was around, spitting, farting, and scratching. He liked to tease people. He was very virtuous and often displayed such great mirth that is was impossible to remain melancholy in his presence. Winter and summer, he wore the same rude bamboo hat, the same old, ragged priest’s robe. Instead of a staff, he carried a horsehair broom. Sometimes he would eat a bushel of food at a time, then again, he wouldn’t eat for weeks. He never ate grains or cereals at all.
    His picture can be seen at the White Cloud Temple in Beijing. He was seven feet tall, had bones like a crane; his posture was like a pine tree, his face round like an ancient moon, with kind brows and generous eyes and whiskers shaped like a spear; he was a big man, shaped like a turtle (a symbol of longevity), with a crane’s back, large ears, round eyes, and beard like the tassel on a spear. He was very tall, his beard reached his navel, his hair touched the ground.
    He had six hobbies: sword playing in moonlight, playing tai chi in the dark, mountain climbing on windy nights, reading the classics on rainy nights, meditating at midnight in the full moon, and playing the lute.
    One day, the Immortal suddenly saw a burst of golden light where the mists shrouded the peaks. A thousand rays of chi spun and dance in the Great Void. He searched where the golden light touched down and found a mountain stream issuing from a cave. Approaching the cave, he saw two golden snakes with flashing eyes. He swished his horsehair duster and realized that they were really two spears of such quality that swords could not harm them. Master Chang also discovered in the cave a glowing book of songs and poems from which he extracted the essence, transforming them into the postures of the art of tai chi spear.
    Chang used the movement “diagonal flying” to break firewood in the forest, and he had a large pet ape who collected his firewood for him. In fact, the ape so often had an opportunity to watch the Master practice that, in faithful imitation, he developed a simian version of tai chi.  Upon being attacked by a python, Chang grasped the serpent at either end, and using the technique of “parting the wild horse’s mane,” he tore it into pieces. Once, encountering a tiger in the mountains, he applied the skill of “bend the bow to shoot the tiger”—first he turned to avoid the tiger’s rush, then grasping the two hind legs as the beast passed, he tore it in half."
Chang San-Feng: His Life and Deeds.  By Jack McGann and Christopher Dow.  An apocryphal biography of the legendary founder of Tai Chi Chuan.  An interesting short biography with some new stories about Master Zhang. 




Wudang Mountain Temple

Wudang Mountain Temple




"The Wudang Mountains (Simplified Chinese: 武当山; Traditional Chinese: 武當山; Hanyu Pinyin: Wudāng Shān), also known as Wu Tang Shan or simply Wudang, are a small mountain range in the Hubei province of China, just to the south of the manufacturing city of Shiyan. 
    In years past, the mountains of Wudang were known for the many Taoist monasteries to be found there, monasteries which became known as an academic centre for the research, teaching and practise of meditation, Chinese martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, Taoist agriculture practises and related arts.  The monasteries were emptied, damaged and then neglected during and after the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976, but the Wudang Mountains have lately become increasingly popular with tourists from elsewhere in China and abroad due to their scenic location and historical interest. The monasteries and buildings were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The palaces and temples in Wudang, which was built as an organized complex during the Ming dynasty (14th–17th centuries), contains Taoist buildings from as early as the 7th century. It represents the highest standards of Chinese art and architecture over a period of nearly 1,000 years."
-   Wudang Mountains - Wikipedia  



"Twentieth-century martial arts historians Tang Hao and Xu Zhen in independent efforts disputed the role of Zhang Sanfeng as founder of taijiquan, as have others since.  We can see that not only does the internal evidence of the Taijiquan Classics contradict Zhang's
role, but Chen family material, ostensibly earlier and closer to the source, has no record of Zhang, regardless of the assertion that the founder of Chen style is said to have incorporated "Daoist ideas" into his proto-taijiquan style.  Moreover, if Zhang had invented taijiquan, we would expect to find trace of Zhang in Chen Family Village, or to find traces of taijiquan in other locales in which Zhang and his followers may have been.  Additionally, neither Zhang's official biographies nor his attributed writings on Daoist topics mention boxing.  Portraits of Zhang, no matter how far removed in time from when he lived, or how generic the style of painting, always depict Zhang in a contemplative stance, with no hint of boxing in the picture."
-   Barbara Davis, The Taijiquan Classics, 2004, p. 18.   



"The origins of Tai Chi Chuan go back to around the Sung Dynasty (960-1279) in China.  As the story goes, Chang San-feng, a Taoist priest, was meditating on Wu-Tang Mountain, in Hupei province.  One day he heard a noise outside and found that a bird was attacking a snake.  Chang watched as the bird attacked the snake's head and the snake yielded at his head and struck with his tail. Then the bird attacked the snake's tail and the snake yielded at his tail and attacked with his head.  When the bird attacked the snake's belly the snake yielded at the belly and attacked with both his head and his tail.  In the end the bird gave up and flew away.  Chang was so impressed with the beauty and efficiency of the snake's defense that he decided to create a martial art using the yielding (yin) and attacking (yang) method of the snake.  He combined the thirteen postures with Taoist philosophy and exercises to create Tai Chi Chuan.  Chang then wrote what is known as the Tai Chi Chuan Classic, a very important read for those studying Tai Chi Chuan."
-  Kent's Tai Chi Center, The Thirteen Postures




"The evidence for the existence of Zhang San Feng is impressive, although some scholars say that he was a myth.  Erected on Wudang Mountain are two huge stone tablets honoring him as a Taoist saint, one decreed by the Ming Emperor Seng Zu, and the other by the Ming Emperor Ying Zong.  The Imperial History of the Ming Dynasty records that Zhang San Feng was born in 1247, learned Taoism from a Taoist master called Fire Dragon at Nanshan Mountain in Shenxi, cultivated his spiritual development for nine years at Wudang Mountain, was known by the honorific title of "the Saint of Infinite Spiritual Attainment', and was the first patriarch of internal martial arts.  The Records of the Great Summit of Eternal Peace Mountain mentions that he studied the yin-yang of the cosmos, observed the source of the longevity of tortoises and cranes, and attained remarkable results.  Collections of Clouds and Water describes him as
carrying his lute and sword on this back, singing Taoist songs, work in the mountains, and studying the marvelous secrets of the cosmos."
-  Wong Kiew Kit, The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan, 1996, p. 21



"Chang San-feng is credited with developing the Chinese internal system known as Taijiquan. He was born in 960, 1247 and again in 1279 AD.  A Native of I-Chou in Liao Tung Province. An external master and court official of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), other sources state he was born later in the Sung dynasty (960-1279), who upon retirement retreated with disgust from the world to a Taoist monastery on Wu Tang Mountain, where he acquired his Taoist name of San Feng. He is said to have learned T'ai Chi Ch'uan in a dream, or after watching a bird and a snake fight. More likely, Chang applied the Taoist health principles and knowledge of energy circulation to his vast ability in external kung fu, thus creating something really different - a martial art that dos not use muscle power as a primary source of movement, but qi. Records available in the monastery on Wu Tang Mountain do indeed mention him. Descriptions picture him as being seven feet tall, with the bones of a crane and the posture of a pine tree, whiskers shaped like a spear, and in winter and summer wearing the same bamboo hat, carrying a horsehair duster and being able to cover 1000 Li in a day.
    The crane - snake combat gave him the ideas that the coiled movement of the snake was like the Taijitu (the Yinyang symbol) and contained the principle of the soft overcoming the hard. Based upon the transformations of the Grand Ultimate, the Yin and Yang leading to the Bagua eight Trigrams, the Trigrams leading the 10.000 things (everything), and the Wuxing (Five movements or phases) being the basis of their interaction, he developed Taijiquan, to gather the Qi, cultivate it to Jing (essence), and hence transform it into Shen (spirit); all waxing and waning, movement and stillness, action and non-action embodied in the I-Jing.
    There are many stories of exactly when Taijiquan was developed by Chang San-feng and no one today knows the accurate story. Some of the accepted facts, however, are that he was a very intelligent man, he studied Shao-Lin Chuan for about ten years and mastered it, and with the foundation in Shao-Lin Chuan he developed the original thirteen postures of Taijiquan."
The Myth of Chang San Feng, Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine







"The legends of “Zhang Sanfeng’s creation of taiji quan” continued in some of the most important modern taiji quan books, such as Xu Yusheng’s 許禹生 Taijiquan Tushi Jie 太极拳势图解, or a Elucidation of Taijiquan Postures in 1921, Sun Loutang’s 孫祿堂 Taiji Quanxue 太極拳學, or the Learning of Taiji Quan in 1924, Ceng Weiming’s 陳微明 Taiji Quan Shu 太極拳術, or the Art of Taiji Quan in 1925, and Yang Chengfu’s 揚澄甫 Tiaji Quan Tiyong Quanshu 太極拳體用全書, or the Essence and Applications of Taiji Quan in 1934, and in the oral traditions as well.  According to Xu Zhen 許震 (1898-1967), the source of Zhang Sanfeng’s association with Taiji quan must have been the Yang family partisans no earlier than Guangxu 光緒 reign (1875-1904) of the Qing dynasty. (Xu Zhen, 112) The attribution of “Zhang Sanfeng’s creation of taiji quan” was seriously taken as a creed, and this creed has been concretized via lineage records,
ceremonies, altars, and iconography to the majority of taiji quan enthusiasts."
Literati Tradition: The Origins of Taiji. By Bing YeYoung.  



"Other recordings concerning Zhang Sanfeng and his Kung Fu master history may have to be related to Huang Zongxi, who was one famous Chinese thinker and historian in late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty. In his books History Files In Song- and Yuan Dynasty, History Files In Ming Dynasty and History Files Of Scholars In Ming Dynasty, he held the view many times that Zhang Sanfeng was a famous Kung Fu master in Song Dynasty. One manuscript handed down by Li Yifan-- who was Wu-style Taiji boxing bearer –- also carried such message as “Taiji boxing originated from Zhang Sanfeng in Song Dynasty.” Therefore, in today’s Kung Fu circle many martial artists generally regard Zhag Sanfeng as the founder of both Taiji boxing and Wudang Kung Fu in Song Dynasty.

It is a general viewpoint circulating in Kung Fu arena that Taiji boxing originated from inter Kung Fu created by Zhang Sanfeng. One collect book with China State Library called Taiji Masters Lineage has the following messages as “Sir Zhang Sanfeng, surname Zhang, first name Sanfeng, went to Mount Zhongnan when he was 61 years old. There he chanced to meet one immortal called Dragon Fire who late transferred his knowledge regarding inner alchemy to him after knowing he was a competent practitioner.”

Later Zhang Sanfeng traveled a lot to famous resorts in the south and finally settled down in Mount Wudang. Then ordering disciple Qiu Yuanqing to stay in Five Dragon House, Lu Qiuyun in Southen Cave, Liu Guquan in Purple Heaven Palace, Zhang Sanfeng constructed a house in the place where Immortal Encountering Palace now stays. Cultivating true self for as long as nine years, Zhang Sanfeng finally succeeded in achieving Tao. People called him an immortal who can excise unimaginable power to restrain the bad and promote the good, and transform all corporeal things into different forms as the he wished to do. All the universe turns to become one thing staying in his hand waiting for him to deal with.

Later, Zhang Sanfeng taught one set of boxing forms to Zhang Songxi and Zhang Cuisan, which was the very original form of Taiji boxing. Because there are only thirteen forms people called it Thirteen-Form Taiji Boxing. Among these 13 forms, stretching out, stamping, squeezing, chopping downward, picking up, changing place, using elbow, leaning against symbolize separately the eight trigrams, while moving forward, retreating backward, watching to the left, turning to the right and staying in the center indicate separately the five elements. From these specific sayings there came the name of Thirteen-Form Taiji boxing. Based upon the Yin- and Yang-Qi theory and aimed at regulating operation of the inner organs according to five-element theory, TaiChi boxing incorporates many soft movements imitating cats, birds, snakes and monkeys, thus gaining the effects of soothing the inner mental state, harmonize the operation of inner viscera, strengthening the immune system, etc."
-   Wudang Kung Fu  



    "Zhang Sanfeng was a semi-mythical Chinese Taoist priest who is believed by some to have achieved immortality, said variously to date from either the late Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty or Ming Dynasty. His name is said to have been Zhang Junbao before he became a Taoist.  Zhang was indifferent to fame and wealth. After declining official position and dispatching his property to his clan, he traveled around China to live the life of an ascetic. Zhang spent several years at Hua Mountain before settling in Wu Tang Mountain.     
    Much of the written material about him is mythical, contradictory, or otherwise suspect. For instance, he is reported by different people to have been born either in 960, 1247, or in 1279. He has at times been described as being seven-feet tall, with the bones of a crane and the posture of a pine tree, having whiskers shaped like a spear, and being able to cover 1000 li in a day (roughly 580 km or 350 miles). He is reputed to have worn a straw hat, and is usually depicted with one slung on his back, but two villages are reported in the 19th century Wu-yang Gazeteer to have believed that his hat was actually a cymbal, which only residents of the villages (famous for manufacturing cymbals) had permission to sound upon meeting him.  Some sources record two Chinese emperors sending missions to Zhang Sanfeng to ask for his advice, although neither mission is reported to have found him. 
    Owing to his legendary status, his name frequently appears in Chinese novels and Wuxia films of swordsmen as a spiritual teacher and master of martial arts.  Today, Chinese readers and general public are most acquainted with Jin Yong's version of Zhang Sanfeng, thanks to the popularity of his Wuxia novels. In his book The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber, Zhang Sanfeng was a former Shaolin disciple in the late Song Dynasty, and born on April 9, 1247 at midnight (Day 9 of month 3 in Chinese calendar). He later left Shaolin Temple and established the Taoist monasteries in Wudang Mountains. In the book he had seven disciples, and was alive until the late Yuan Dynasty. According to many regional gazettes, Zhang Sanfeng was seen at the end year of tianshun reign (1457-1464), having lived for more than 200 years."
Zhang Sanfeng



    "Zhang Sanfeng ("Zhang Triple Abundance" or "Zhang Three Peaks") is a famous Taoist said to have live between the end of the Yuan and beginning of the Ming periods.  His historical existence, however, is unproved.  In early biographies―including the one in the Mingshi (History of Ming)―he is usually said to be a native of Yizhou (Liaoning), but other sources give different birthplaces.  According to these works he was seven feet tall and had enormously big ears and eyes, his appearance suggested the longevity of a turtle and the immortality of a crane, and his beard and whiskers bristled like the blades of a halberd.  He tied his hair in a knot and, regardless of the season, wore only a garment made of leaves.  In his youth, Zhang is supposed to have studied Buddhism under the Chan master Haiyun (1021-56), but then mastered neidan and reached immortality.  He was known for his extraordinary magical powers as well as his ability to prophesy.
    In the first years of the Ming period, Zhang reportedly established himself on Mount Wudang (Wudang Shan, Hubei), where he lived in a thatched hut.  With his pupils he rebuilt the mountain monasteries destroyed during the wars at the end of the Mongol dynasty.  From Mount Wudang, Zhang went to the Jintai guan (Abbey of the Golden Terrace) in Baoji (Shananxi), where he announced his departure, composed a hymn, and passed away.  Later he came back to life, travelled to Sichuan, and visited Mount Wudang.
    The belief in the real existence of Zhang Sanfeng during the Ming Dynasty is reflected in the emperor's continued efforts to locate him.  The search for Zhang started in 1391 by order of the Hongwu Emperor (1368-1398) and was extended from 1407 to 1419 by the Yongle Emperor (1403-1424).  Both sent out delegates several times, but they all returned without success.  Promoted by the Ming emperor's interest, a cult developed around Zhang that spread widely and lasted until the later years of the Qing dynasty.
    As time went on, the legends about Zhang Sanfeng multiplied and became increasingly exaggerated.  Zhang is known as the founder of taiji quan (a claim without historical evidence) and the patron saint of practitioners of this technique.  During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a connection to the sexual techniques (fangzhong shu) was also established and texts dealing with these practices were ascribed to him.  The belief that Zhang was the master of Shen Wansan, a popular deity of wealth, led to his own identity as a god of wealth in the seventeenth century.  The Western Branch (Xipai) of neidan and various Qing sects also regarded Zhang Sanfeng as their first patriarch."
-  Martina Darga, Encyclopedia of Taoism, 2008, p. 1233-35


Return to the Main Index for this Webpage


"At the age of five, Zhang Jun Bao suffered from an illness and lost his eyesight. His father heard that some Daoist priests in a Daoist temple had an incredible way of curing illness; so, he took Zhang Jun Bao there. Within a week, he was cured and the whole family was more than happy. The Daoist priest loved Zhang Jun Bao and took him as a disciple teaching him both writing and martial arts. Like all fathers, his father wished him every success. Zhang Jun Bao was expected to take the state exam for a career in the government. However, he was not interested in becoming a politician or minister. He loved martial arts and visited many ancient temples. When he came to Yan Jing, he took up a local government post through the relationship of a good friend. Since he did not enjoy this kind of life, Zhang Jun Bao quit and returned to Liao Dong where he spent most of his time in a deserted temple..

One day at the temple, a Daoist priest approached him. They talked throughout the night, and treated each other as old friends, regretting not having met earlier. As they parted, Zhang Jun Bao missed living a life of solitude, wanting to be free like the clouds and birds. He spent the next few years visiting various places, learning martial arts and becoming famous. When he was visiting ShanXi Province, he realized that the Daoist priest he met earlier was Qui Chu Ji, the disciple of the renowned Wang Chong Yang.

Zhang Jun Bao moved to the Jin Tai Temple in Bao Ji and was accepted by the respected Daoist Huo Long as a disciple. He became versatile in Daoism and named himself San Feng 三丰, which means heaven and earth. (In the 8 trigrams, San 三 represents heaven, or qian 乾. Feng 丰 represents earth, or kun 坤 .)

Zhang San Feng came and went without shadow. Settling down in Wudang Mountain, he was inspired by watching a snake fight a bird. He thought about martial arts, learned advantages from others, and combined Daoist fighting techniques in order to create the Tai Ji Quan 13 style. The Tai Ji Quan 13 style, also known as Nei Jia Quan or Wudang Nei Jia Quan, has formed the basis of Wudang Internal Martial Arts."
Wudang Traditional Internal Kung Fu Academy 



    "In 1412, while construction of the Forbidden City was underway, the emperor dispatched 300,000 artisans and military and civil builders to Wudang. Their task was to create a Taoist Imperial Palace - a massive project in which the emperor invested the tributes and taxes from nine affluent southern Chinese provinces. Thirteen years later, 33 clusters of Taoist temples, pavilions and bridges, including the Gilded Hall and the Taihegong, Qingweigong, Zixiaogong, Chaotiangong, Nanyangong, Huilongguan, Longquanguan, Fuzhenguan and Yuanheguan temples, had been built along the contour line of a 70-km path from downtown Junxian to the Tianzhu Peak.  
    At one time there were 400 temples, administered by 10,000 or so monks, on Wudang Mountain. The complex covered a 1.6 million sq m area -- twice that of the Forbidden City. Emperor Yongle personally monitored the Wudang project. He took great care to ensure that the Taoist principle of respecting the laws of nature in all phases of construction was upheld. Building materials were transported from elsewhere to avoid disturbing the natural symmetry of Wudang’s woods and rocks, and the emperor saw to it that buildings blended naturally and aesthetically with their environs. He bestowed on Wudang the title of “No. 1 Mountain under Heaven” and elevated Zhenwu, god of the North, to the status of All Mighty -- the highest divinity in the Taoist pantheon."
-   Mount Wudang Abode of the Immortals and a Martial Monk


    "Once, when members of the royal Mongolian family of the Yuan Dynasty were hunting in the mountains, they ran across Chang as he was picking herbs. Though aware that the Mongolians were excellent bowmen, he was offended by their pomposity, so that when they ordered him to leave, he refused. Angrily he said to the prince, “Your highness hunts with a bow and arrow, but I use only bare hands.” Suddenly two hawks flew by, and Chang leapt up, caught them, then dropped silently to the ground. Chang stood a bird in each of his palms, but no matter how hard they tried to fly away, they could not escape, such was his yielding ability. Then Chang said to the shocked prince, “I have mercy on living creatures and do not want to hurt the birds.” He let the birds fly away. One of the guards was so incensed that he drew his bow and shot an arrow at Chang, but the Master caught the arrow in his teeth. Then, holding the arrow in his fingers, he threw it at a tree, where it buried deep into the wood. “I have no need of violent weapons,” he commented dryly.

    Some time after creating tai chi, Chang was ordered to appear at the court of the Emperor Tai-tsu. On the way, while crossing a bridge, he was attacked by a band of one hundred brigands who thought him easy prey. Within moments, the fight was over, all the outlaws lying unconscious on the ground. Chang walked away unscathed. Later, when the outlaws awoke, they swore that the old man hadn’t even used his arms or legs but had merely shrugged them aside as they attacked, flinging them into unconsciousness. When Chang reached the palace, the emperor conferred on him the title, “T’ung-wei’hsien’hua chen-jen,” which meant, “The spiritual man who understands the power of the occult.”"
Chang San-Feng: His Life and Deeds.  By Jack McGann and Christopher Dow.  An apocryphal biography of the legendary founder of Tai Chi Chuan.  An interesting short biography with some new stories about Master Zhang. 








Treatise on Tai Chi
The Principles of T'ai Chi Ch'uan
Attributed to the Taoist Master Chang San-Feng

There are numerous translations and commentaries on the short statement of the 
"Principles of T'ai Chi Ch'uan" attributed to Chang San-Feng.  One can find able 
translations and commentary by Jou Tsung-Hwa (1980), Liao Waysun (1977), 
Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo (1979), Yang Jwing-Ming (1996, 1987), T.T. Liang (1977), 
Kuo Lien-Ying (1999), Almanzo Lamoureux (2002), Stuart Alve Olson (2001), 
Barbara Davis (2004), and many others.

Students of Taijiquan will benefit from studying this Taijiquan classic.  A number
of versions are cited below for your consideration. The translators or interpreters 
chosen are:

A.  Olson, Stuart Alve, 2001.

B.  Jou, Tsung-Hwa, 1980.   

C.  Yang, Jwing-Ming, 1996.  

D.  Davis, Barbara, 2004.  

E.  Liao, Waysun, 1990.  

F.  Lo, Benjamin, 1979

G.  Garofalo, Michael, 2006


1A.   With every movement string all the parts together,
            keeping the entire body light and nimble.
1B.   In any action, the whole body should be light and agile, or Ching and Lin.
            One should feel that all of the body's joints are connected with 
            full linkage.   
1C.   Once in motion, every part of the body is light and agile and must be
            threaded together.   
1D.   Whenever one moves, the entire body must be light and lively, and must
            above all be connected throughout.  
1E.   Once you begin to move, the entire body must be light and limber.  Each
            part of your body should be connected to every other part.  
1F.   In motion all parts of the body must be light, nimble, and strung together. 
1G.   Move in an agile, balanced, and coordinated manner.
            Once you decide to move,
            The parts of the body should act together:
            Feeling connected and coordinated,
            As balanced as two feathers on a scale,
            Strung together like pearls in a necklace,
            Agile like a cat,
            Lighter than moonbeams,
            Mobile as a young monkey.

            Master Chang San-Feng's Treatise on T'ai Chi Ch'uan, circa 1300 CE, Part 1

2A.   Calmly stimulate the ch'i, with the Spirit of Vitality concentrated internally.
2B.   Chi should be stirred.  The spirit of vitality, or Shen, should be concentrated
2C.   Qi should be full and stimulated, Shen (Spirit) should be retained internally.
2D.   The qi should be excited; the spirit should be gathered within.  
2E.   The internal energy should be extended, vibrated like the beat of a drum.
            The spirit should be condensed in toward the center of your body.  
2F.   The ch'i (breath) should be excited, the shen (spirit) should be internally
Energize the body and quiet the gathered spirit.  
            Raise up awareness to draw Chi to every nerve,
            Fill up the body with the strength of the excited Force,
            Stir and stimulate the Chi from head to toe,
            Playing the Great Drum of Inner Powers.    
            Keep the spirit calm within,
            Vital forces tamed and quiet,
            Riding the Tigress to the Temple,
            Gently leading the Great Ox past the Gate;
            Condensing the Elixir of Spirit in the Inner Chamber.   

            Master Chang San-Feng's Treatise on T'ai Chi Ch'uan, circa 1300 CE, Part 2


3A.   Avoid deficiency and excess; avoid projections and hollows; avoid 
             severance and splice.
3B.   Do not show any deficiency, neither concavity nor convexity in movement.
             Do not show disconnected movement.
3C.   No part should be defective, no part should be deficient or excessive, 
             no part should be disconnected.  
3D.   Let there be no hollows or projections; let there be no stops and starts. 
3E.   When performing T'ai Chi, it should be perfect; allow no defect.  The form
             should be smooth with no unevenness, and continuous, allowing no 
3F.   Let the postures be without breaks or holes, hollows or projections, or
             discontinuities and continuities of form.     
3G.  Move in a continuous, even and smooth manner.
       Do not overextend the limbs or sully the forms.
            Flow like the Great River
            Filling all the holes and hallows,
            Unbroken, gathered, full, unstoppable;
            Seeking the True Level, finding the Golden Mean,
            Neither excessive nor deficient in Yin or Yang;
            Holding postures as perfect as the Blue Lotus,
            Moving steadily between forms like the White Tiger,
            Uniting body and will in the Jade Furnace,
            Transcending inner and outer, starting and stopping.  

            Master Chang San- Feng's Treatise on T'ai Chi Ch'uan, circa 1300 CE, Part 3


4A.   The energy is rooted in the feet, issued through the legs, directed by the waist, 
             and appears in the hands and fingers.  The feet, legs, and waist must act as 
             one unit, so that whether Advancing or Withdrawing you will be able to 
             obtain a superior position and create a good opportunity.  
4B.   The Chin is rooted in the feet, bursts out in the legs, is controlled by the waist
             and functions through the fingers.  From the feet to the legs, legs to the 
             waist, all should be moved as a unit.  By moving as a unit, one can advance
             or retreat with precise timing and the most advantageous position.  
4C.   The root is at the feet, (Jin is) generated from the legs, controlled by the waist
             and expressed by the fingers.  From the feet to the legs to the waist must 
             be integrated, and one unified Qi.  When moving forward or backward, you
             can catch the opportunity and gain the superior position.  
4D.   Its root is in the feet, it issuing from the legs, its control from the yao, and its 
             shaping in the fingers.  From the feet, to the legs, and then the yao; there
             must always be completely one qi.  Only then, in moving forward and backward,
             can the opportunity and position be gained.  
4E.   The internal energy, ch'i, roots at the feet, then transfers through the legs and 
             is controlled from the waist, moving eventually through the back to the arms
             and fingertips. When transferring the ch'i from your feet to your waist, your
             body must operate as if all the parts were one; this allows you to move forward
             and backward freely with control of balance and position.       
4F.   The motion should be rooted in the feet, released through the legs, controlled by the
             waist, and manifested through the fingers.  The feet, legs and waist must act 
             together simultaneously, so that while stepping forward or back the timing and
             position are correct.  


5A.   Failure to obtain a superior position and create a good opportunity results from
             the body being in a state of disorder and confusion.  To correct this disorder,
             adjust the waist and legs.  

5B.   If precise timing and good position are not achieved and the body does not move
             as a unit, then the waist and legs need more development.  They may not
             be strong or flexible enough.
5C.   If you fail to catch the opportunity and gain the superior position, your mind is
             scattered and your body is disordered.  To solve this problem, you must 
             look to the waist and legs.  
5D.   Where the opportunity and position have not been gained, the body is scattered
             and disordered.  This error must be sought in the yao and the legs.
5E.   Failure to do this causes loss of control of the entire body system.  The only cure
             for such a problem is an examination of the stance.  
5F.   If the timing and position are not correct, the body becomes disordered, and the 
             defect must be sought in the legs and waist.  



6A.   Likewise, upward and downward, forward and backward, leftward and rightward - 
            all these are to be directed by the Mind-Intent and are not to be 
            expressed externally.  
6B.   This often shows when moving up or down, backwards or forwards, left or
            right.  Use internal consciousness, not external forms.  
6C.   Up and down, forward and backward, left and right, it's all the same.
            All of this is done with the Yi (Mind), not externally.
6D.   Upward, downward, forward, backward, left and right are all thus.  In all
            of these cases, it is yi, and not from extremities.
6E.   Application of these principles promotes the flowing T'ai Chi movement in any
            direction; forward, backward, right side, and left side.  In all of this, you 
            must emphasize the use of the mind in controlling your movements, rather
            than the mere use of external muscles.  
6F.   Up or down, front or back, left or right, are all the same.  These are all i (mind)
            and not external.  



7A.   If there is above, there must be below.  If there is Advancing, there must be
            Withdrawing.  If there is left, there must be right. If the initial intent is 
            upward, you must first have downward intent.  If you want to lift something 
            upward, you must first have the intent of pushing downward. Then the root 
            will be severed, it will be immediately and certainly toppled.
7B.   Where there is something up, there must be something down.  Where there is
            something forwards, there must be something backwards.  Where there is
            something left, there must be something right.  If one intends to move up,
            one must simultaneously show a contrary tendency (downwards), just as 
            one who wishes to pull a tree up pushes downwards first to loosen the roots,
            so that it can be easily uprooted.   
7C.   If there is a top, there is a bottom; if there is a front, there is a back; if there is
            a left, there is a right.  If Yi (mind) wants to go upward, this implies considering
            downward.  (This means) if (you) want to lift and defeat an opponent, you must
            first consider his root.  When the opponent's root is broken, he will inevitably be
            defeated quickly and certainly.     
7D.   There is up, and therefore there is down, there is forward, and therefore there is 
            backward; there is left, and therefore there is right.  If one intends to move 
            upward, the send the yi downward.  If one wants to lift something up, then a 
            'break' must be added.  In this way, the opponent will sever his own root, 
            ruining him quickly; no doubt about it.  
7E.   You should also follow the T'ai Chi principle of opposites: when you move upward,
            the mind must be aware of down; when moving forward, the mind also thinks 
            of moving back; when shifting to the left side, the mind should simultaneously
            notice the right side - so that if the mind is going up, it is also going down.  Such
            principles relate to T'ai Chi movement in the same way that uprooting an object,
            and thereby destroying its foundation, will make the object fall sooner.  
7F.   If there is up, there is down; if there is forward, then there is backward; if there is
            left, then there is right.  If the i wants to move up, it contains at the same time 
            the downward idea.  By alternating the force of pulling and pushing, the root is
            severed and the object is quickly toppled, without a doubt.  



8A.   Clearly discriminate the Substantial and Insubstantial.  There is an aspect
            of Substantial and Insubstantial in every part of the body.  Considered 
            in their entirety all things have this nature.  
8B.   One must distinguish substantiality from insubstantiality. Where there is 
            substantiality, there must be insubstantiality.  In all ways, one has to 
            distinguish one from the other.  
8C.   Substantial and insubstantial must be clearly distinguished.  Every part
            (of the body) has a substantial and insubstantial aspect.  The entire body
            and all the joints should be threaded together without the slightest break.  
8D.   Empty and full should be divided clearly.  Each point (in your body) in this way
            has empty and full.  Every point always is empty and full.  The whole body,
            in every joint, is strung together; do not let it be even the slightest bit
8E.   Besides clearly separating the positive and negative from one another, you 
            should also clearly locate the substantial and insubstantial.  When the entire
            body is integrated with all parts connected together, it becomes a vast 
            connection of positive and negative energy units.  Each positive and negative
            unit of energy should be connected to every other unit and permit no interruption
            among them.  
8F.   Insubstantial and substantial should be clearly differentiated.  One place has 
            insubstantiality and substantiality; every place has the same insubstantiality 
            and substantiality. All part of the body are strung together without the slightest

9A.   Chang Ch'uan (Long Boxing) is like a long river or great ocean rolling on 
             without interruption.  
9B.   Long Chuan, like a great river, flows unceasingly.  
C.   What is Long Fist?  (It is) like a long river and a large ocean, rolling
9D.   Long Boxing is like the Long River and the Great Sea, an unceasing torrent.
9E.   In Long Forms your body should move like the rhythmic flow of water on a 
             river or like the rolling waves of the ocean.  
9F.   Ch'ang Ch'uan (T'ai Chi Ch'uan) is like a great river rolling on unceasingly.  





Purple Mountain Taoist Temple
Wu Tang Mountain (Wudangshan) Area




Reference Sources for Translations of the Treatise on T'ai Chi Ch'uan


Olson (2001) 
T'ai Chi According to the I Ching: Embodying the Principles of the Book of Changes.  By Stuart Alve Olson.  Rochester, Vermont, Inner Traditions International Ltd., 2001.  224 pages.   ISBN:  0892819448.  The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Treatise, attributed to Ancestor Chang San-Feng, Sung Dynasty Priest of Wu-Tan Mountain, is found on pp. 36-37.  Mr. Olson has many fine books to his credit, and was the longtime friend and senior student of Master T. T. Liang.  


Jou (1980)
The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan:  Way to Rejuvenation.   By Jou, Tsung Hwa.   Edited by Shoshana Shapiro.  Warwick, New York, Tai Chi Foundation, 1980.  263 pages.  First Edition.  ISBN: 0804813574.  An excellent comprehensive textbook.  A Third Edition is now available.  The Tai-Chi Lun or "The Theory of Tai-Chi Chuan" by Chang Sang-Feng, pp. 175-180.  One of the first comprehensive books on the subject.  Master Jou, I'm sure, would still be teaching us if it were not for an tragic automobile accident a few years ago.    


Yang (1996)
Tai Chi Theory and Martial Power
: Advanced Yang Style Tai Chi.  By Yang, Jwing-Ming, Ph.D..  Jamaica Plain, Mass., YMAA Publication Center, 1996.  First Edition 1987.  Second Edition 1996.  Glossary, index,  268 pages.      ISBN: 1886969434.  Taijiquan Treatise by Chang, San-Feng, presented at pp. 211-214.  Dr. Yang has translated and commented on scores of Taijiquan and Qigong treatises and his contributions are outstanding.  


Davis (2004)
The Taijiquan Classics: An Annotated Translation
.  Translated by Barbara Davis.  Commentary by Chen, Wei-ming.  San Francisco, North Atlantic Books, 2004.  200 pages.  ISBN: 1556434316.  The Taijiquan Jing, attributed to Zhang Sanfeng, is presented at pp. 75-76.  A first rate contribution in both translation and commentary.  


Liao (1990)
T'ai Chi Classics
.  By Waysun Liao.  New translations of three essential texts of T'ai Chi Ch'uan with commentary and practical instruction by Waysun Liao.  Illustrated by the author.  Boston, Shambhala, 1990. 210 pages.  First Edition, 1977.  Second Edition, 1990. ISBN: 087773531X.  The Treatise by Master Chang San-feng (ca. 1200 CE) is presented on pp. 87- 95.  


Lo (1979)
The Essence of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: The Literary Tradition
.  Translated and edited by Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo; Martin Inn, Robert Amacker, and Susan Foe.  Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books, 1979, 1985.  100 pages.  ISBN: 0913028630.   The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Ching by Chang Sanfeng, pp. 17-27.   


Garofalo (2006)
Chang San-Feng, Taoist Master.  Brief biography, links, bibliography, quotations, and a study of the "Treatise on Tai Chi Chuan".  Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo.  Includes poems and commentary by Mike Garofalo.  Red Bluff, California, Green Way Research, 
2006. 117Kb.  My version of the "Principles of Taijiquan" is not a translation but an interpolation, a restatement, a revision, an extension of the meanings implied in the original terse text.  It draws heavily from Taoist alchemical symbolism and other writings by Taoists like Master Zhang.  


Sifu Wong Kiew Kit
Taijiquan Treatise of Zhang San Feng


Return to the Main Index for this Webpage







 The Writings Attributed to Master Zhang San Feng


Nobody really knows whether or not one of the numerous persons called "Master Zhang San Feng" actually wrote these short treatises or commentaries attributed to him.  They may have been documents compiled, redacted, edited, or composed by persons associated with a Taoist school where Master Zhang San Feng is respected or revered.  They may have been compiled or written hundreds of years after Master Zhang San Feng died or disappeared.  This is also true for writings attributed to Lao Tzu.  The official Taoist cannon consists of thousands of documents composed over many centuries since 500 BCE.  The documents are part of the extensive Taoist written tradition, and the exact author of a particular document is sometimes uncertain. 

Writings on the Tao by Master Chang Sanfeng  This extensive collection of documents claims to be based on the excellent work by Thomas Cleary, Vitality, Energy, Spirit:  A Taoist Sourcebook, 1991.  I don't think Mr. Cleary attributed so many texts to Chang Sanfeng.




Treatise on Tai Chi
The Principles of T'ai Chi Ch'uan
Attributed to the Taoist Master Chang San-Feng
A very popular "classic" treatise amongst Taijiquan enthusiasts.  Many commentaries exist for this Treatise on Tai Chi




Focusing Spirit Accumulating Energy Treatise in Grand Ultimate Practice

    "The beginning of Grand Ultimate is Limitless Void. Nebulous as one energy. No separation. Thus, Limitless Void is the mother of Grand Ultimate. Thus the origin of myriad of things.
    Two energies separate. Heaven and earth judge. Grand Ultimate results. Two energies are yin and yang. Yin quiescent and yang dynamic. Yin terminates yang generates.
    Heaven and earth are separated into pure and impure. Pure floats impure sinks. Pure high impure low. Yin and yang combine, pure and impure unite. Interact and generate, result in myriad things. 
    Life of man originally possesses Limitless Void. This is the prenatal mechanics. Creation of man is post-natal, thus Grand Ultimate. Thus myriad things not without Limitless Void. Also not without Grand Ultimate. 
    The function of man. When there is movement, there must be quiescence. Extreme quiescence there must be movement. Movement and quiescence mutually operate, that is yin-yang. United become one Grand Ultimate. 
    Life of man is all dependent on spirit and energy. Pure energy rises up. Doubtless to heaven. Focus spirit internally. Doubtless to earth. Spirit and energy unit. Result in one Grand Ultimate.
    Hence, the transmission of my Art of Grand Ultimate. First, understand the marvelous way of the Grand Ultimate. Not understand this, not my students.
    Art of Grand Ultimate, movement is like quiescence. Quiescence is like movement. Movement and quiescence interact. Mutually connected without break. Two energies unite. Signals the attainment of the Grand Ultimate. Internally focus spirit. Externally accumulate energy. Before form arrives, intention first arrives. Form has not arrived, intention has already arrived. What is intention? The agent of spirit.
    Spirit and energy unite, the seat of Grand Ultimate is decided. Its sign is settled. Its seat is settled. Continuously interact. The number seventy two. Thirteen techniques in Art of Grand Ultimate. Ward off, roll back, press in, in contact, take, spread, elbow, anchor. Forward, backward, to the left, to the right, remain at center. According to creation and reaction of Eight Symbols and Five Processes. 
    Also empty spirit, ignore pull, loosen waist, settle false-real, sink and press, use intention and not use strength. Top and bottom coordinated, internal and external united. Continuously linked without break. Quiescence found in movement. The ten essentials in Art of Grand Ultimate. No-two-gate for those who learn the art. Fundamental for entering the way. 
    Entering the way nourish heart stabilize nature; accumulate energy focus spirit be main path. Practice this art must follow thus. Heart not peaceful, nature disturbed. Energy not accumulated, spirit disordered. 
    Heart and nature not united, spirit and energy not coordinated, four limbs and hundred meridians of body lifeless, and functions useless. To pacify heart and stabilize nature, focus spirit and accumulate energy. Not miss hit-sitting. Not neglect techniques of training. Search within movement and quiescence the benefits of Grand Ultimate. 
    From Eight Symbols and Five Processes find principles of creation and reaction. Use seventy two number to achieve heart and nature, spirit and energy of the Grand Ultimate. Mutually function. Thus heart peaceful nature stabilized, spirit focused energy accumulated. Achieve attainment of Grand Ultimate in body. Yin-yang unite, movement and quiescence become one. Four limbs and hundred meridians of body flow smoothly. Without stagnation without wastage. Hence receive my transmission."

Focusing Spirit Accumulating Energy Treatise in Grand Ultimate Practice
    Attributed to Master Zhang San Feng
    A literal translation by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, 2012, at Flowing Zen




Speaking of the Dao in Plain Words
Attributed to Zhang Sang-feng
Translated by Li Siming, 2011
Sections 1-17, Chinese characters and English translation

Those pursuing the Dao, need to know the three stages and three gates.
To sum up in four sentences: “after non-doing, follow by doing; after doing, back to non-doing”.  (Section 1) 

In Internal Alchemy there are also three stages, accumulating the essence and chi is the first stage, opening and closing passages is the second stage, building the foundation and refine the self is the third stage. 
Begin with the first stage, is basically to purify the mind and to abstain from desire, first close the external three treasures (ear, eye, mouth), and nurture the internal three treasures (essence, chi, spirit).  (Section 2)

The “I-Ching” said, “Explore and understand the truth and the source of life, and then to life”, this describes stages of Daoist cultivation.
What is exploring the truth?
Read the authentic teachings, explore the authentic pathways, observe the transformation of the universe, explore the Horse Diagram and the Turtle Diagram, retain the chi during leisure times, keep the spirit (from scattering) to build the foundation.
Explore the truth together with the source of life, and you will get the unbeatable body, and to pursue the medicine to last forever.  
The source of life means internal, life means external, connect the internal to the external as one, and arrive at the great Dao.
The three words “and then to” describes the process of returning to innate life from the acquired life, there is no need to look for further formula within.  (Section 3) 

Condense the spirit, means collecting one’s purified mind to enter into the inside.
When the mind is not yet purified, don’t close the eyes, first encourage the mind to come back, be cool and indifferent, then bring the mind to the energy center, this is called condensing the spirit. 
When the spirit is condensed, it is like sitting on top of a tall mountain and looking at the mountains and waters, like putting up a sky lamp lighting up every darkness and obscurity, this is the meaning of condensing the spirit on emptiness.
Regulating the breath is not difficult, when the mind-spirit is quiet, following the breath naturally, I only abide in the naturalness, this when combined with spirit lighting downward, is what means by regulating the breath. 
Regulating the breath, means mixing Yin Qiao Chi with mind’s chi in chi center. 
Condensing the mind under the naval is called condensing the spirit, returning the chi under the naval is called regulating the breath.
When spirit leans with breath, abide in natural cleanliness is called “not forgetting”, allow for natural cleanliness is called “not assisting”. 
Not forgetting and not assisting use silence and softness, breath is active and mind at ease.
See nothingness as the place to keep the mind, see dim silence as home for breath and spirit, again and again, purify and purify, all of a sudden spirit and breathe both forgotten, spirit and energy fused.
The Yang suddenly arise like one is drunk.
True appearing and disappearing, happens when the mystical gate is realized. 
In scriptures what named as “innate”, “real”, “original” arise from the Yin-Yang furnace, from the dark-unconscious-silence, like one appear from obscurity, you can use this to read Internal Alchemy scriptures.  (Section 4) 

Dao is difficult to learn, and so is teaching the Dao.  The teacher is diligent, are the student lazy? 
The teacher can bear the trouble, can the student endure? 
Learn not thoroughly, practice not diligently, and mind is not pure, spirit is not real, if approach the Dao with these, not one in ten-thousand succeed.
Confucius said “To know this mechanism, is via the spirit”. 
He did not say via one’s intention, but via the spirit, we can see this subtle appearing and disappearing can only be known via the spirit.
Now classify this as “mechanism moves slightly, the straight-forward is straight.
To know the mechanism, one can never succeed via the mind, intent, and thought. This is mystical!
Spirit need to be the real spirit, to be called innate.
Real spirit is, real thought, real mind, real intent. How to differentiate?
Teachings said: “fire started in the mystical gate, awake the obscure darkness, the consciousness is it.
Alchemist said: “one thought arise from completeness”, is real spirit, the real mind.
Other said: “In mist, light of the mind is found”, is real spirit, the real intent.
Other said: “In stillness arise wisdom, one’s intent circulates”, is real spirit, real intent.
Real spirit never arise from refining the spirit, student should know this.  (Section 5) 

The Great Dao can be entered via the word “Center”, what is called “Center”, one is of the body, one is not of the body (non-body).
Kungfu should be proceed in two levels.
First, find the center of the body, Zhuzi said “Abide in the center when handling the external.”
To abide in the center, one need to bring back the (spirit) light to inside, pay attention to the center, 1.3 inches below the belly button, keep the attention, this is the finding the center of the body.
Second,  find the non-body center, Confucius’ said: “Center is prior to the uprising of happy, angry, sad, joy”, at this moment, there is no hearing and no seeing, thieves are cautious, hidden and alone, and naturally the nature becomes still and the spirit becomes clear, spirit becomes clear and energy becomes pure, to here one starts to see one’s original face, this seeking is not within the body.
Use the center of the body, to pursue the center not of the body, and desire will become easy to purify, heaven’s nature will return to order, saints immortals and buddhas throughout the history, had used this as the first step practice.
During meditation, the most important is to condense the spirit and regulate the breath, use calmness to bring back order, refrain from assisting and forgetting, none will not gain kungfu by day.
Condensing the spirit and regulating the breath, only need flat mind and harmonized energy. 
When mind is flatten spirit is condensed, when energy is harmonized breath is regulated.
The word “flatten” is wonderful, when no wave arise in the mind it is flatten, mind abide in it is called flat, flat is in the center.
When the mind is in it, there is no wave.
Ancient immortal said: “Regulate the real breath, refine the non-spirit spirit.”
Real breath is the breath when the breath stops; non-spirit spirit is the spirit of the spirit.
To sum up one need to empty the human mind, embrace the Dao mind, return this Dao mind back to emptiness, dark and silence, save in the center, and one can nurture the real breath, obtain the non-spirit spirit.  (Section 10)"
Speaking of the Dao in Plain Words, Attributed to Zhang San-Feng, Translated by Li Siming, 2011.  Sections 1-17 translated, Chinese characters and English translation


Return to the Main Index for this Webpage




Commentary on Ancestor Lu's
Hundred-Character Tablet
Attributed to the Taoist Master Chang San-Feng

"Nuturing energy, forget words and guard it.
Conquer the mind, do nondoing.
In activity and quietude, know the source progenitor.
There is no thing; whom else do you seek?
Real constancy should respond to people;
In responding to people, it is essential not to get confused.
When you don't get confused, your nature is naturally stable;
When your nature is stable, energy naturally returns.
When energy returns, Elixir spontaneously crystallizes,
In the pot pairing water and fire.
Yin and yang arise, alternating over and over again,
Everywhere producing the sound of thunder.
White clouds assemble on the summit,
Sweet dew bathes the polar mountain.
Having drunk the wine of longevity,
You wander free; who can know you?
You sit and listen to the stringless tune,
You clearly understand the mechanism of creation.
The whole of these twenty verses
is a ladder straight to heaven."

-   Thomas Cleary, Vitality, Energy, Spirit:  A Taoist Sourcebook.  Translated and edited by Thomas Cleary. Boston, Shambhala, 1991.  281 pages.  ISBN: 0877735190.   p. 185



"Breathing Out -
Touching the Root of Heaven,
One's heart opens;
The Dragon slips by like water..
Breathing In -
Standing on the Root of Earth,
One's heart is still and deep;
The Tiger's claw cannot be moved.

As you go on breathing in this frame of mind, with these associations, alternating between movement and stillness, it is important that the focus of your mind does not shift.  Let the true breath come and go, a subtle continuum on the brink of existence.  Tune the breathing until you get breath without breathing; become one with it, and then the spirit can be solidified and the elixir can be made."
-  Chang San-Feng,  Commentary on Ancestor Lu's Hundred-Character Tablet
     Translated by Thomas Cleary, Vitality, Energy, Spirit:  A Taoist Sourcebook, 1991, p. 187. 
     Poetic interpretation by Mike Garofalo of expository text of Chang San-Feng.  




The Rootless Tree
無根樹 Wugen Shu

Attributed to the Taoist Master Zhang San Feng


Rootless Tree
By Zhang Sanfeng
Translated by Akrisi
24 Verses with Commentary and Footnotes

Rootless tree, the flower is shattered,
Cling to vanity - who will cease?
Wretched life, a sea of sufferings,
Drifting here and there is not free.
No shore nor end, no berth to park,
All day sail around sharks and fishes.
If you repent, there is the shore,
Not till the wind and waves break your vessel.  (Ver.1) 

Rootless tree, the flower is withering,
Renew old tree and graft green branch.
Plum on willow, mulberry with pear,
Pass to devotees as an example.
Ancient method of transplanting immortals,
There is really a cure to aging.
Seek a Master, ask for the recipe,
Proceed to practice before it's too late.  (Ver.2)

Rootless tree, the flower is deviated,
Part from
Yin Yang Tao not full.

Metal from wood, mercury from lead,
Yin Yang each at one side, like orphan and widow.
Yin Yang
on earth is like man and his mate,
Sons and grandsons, successive generations.

Comply and be earthen, regress to be
Only in between top down top.  (Ver.5)

Rootless tree, flower is numerous,
Sweet and charming surpass cosmetics.
Beware the restless mind, and the heart full of whims,
Wear an iron face like your mother.
Draw the real sword of the azure dragon,
And pluck the fresh flowers off the walls.
Avail of the wind, and pull a full sail
Through the treasure mountain how empty-handed?  (Ver.7) 

Rootless tree, the flower is blooming,
Pick the flower from the crescent moon pot.
Prolong life, cure ailment and mishap,
So as to equip theurgic treasures for your friends.
From this can accomplish heavenly treasure,
Never mind the refuters mock me a fool.
Advice to the talented, don't show off your wit,
Not meet a Master, don't try hard to guess.  (Ver. 9) 

Rootless tree, the flower is charming,
On earth react to tides but to stars from the sky.
Dragon slaying sword, and tiger tying rope,
Revolve the ladle handle of the pole star.
Smelt a pot of real sun and moon,
Sweep away all other three thousand heresies.
Walk on top of the sky, how carefree,
Sins and mortal filths wipe out in one stroke.  (Ver.17) 

Rootless tree, the flower in pair,
Dragon tiger appear and fight on the scene.
Lead casted into mercury, Yin concoct with Yang,
Theurgical form of
millet pearl is worth priceless.
This is the real seed of homestead,
Turn old man to boy and long live.
Ascend to heaven, way to pure bliss,
Refrain from rebirth not to meet king of hell. (Ver.19)

Rootless tree, the flower is rare,
Grow it in the moon for a moment.
Cloud grabbing hands, walk on ladders of clouds,
Fetch the pre-heavenly first flower.
Drink wine enjoy flower feeling so well,
So much fun to immortal elders with me dead-drunk.
Entrust to the heart, carefully safeguard,
For fear that fire surge up and down in the pot.  (Ver.20)

Rootless tree, the flower is red,
Pick all the red flowers now empty tree.
Form is empty, emptiness is the form,
Thoroughly discern that emptiness is in forms.
Know clearly emptiness then forms will perish,
but theurgical form long last not come to naught.
Called perfectly penetrating, the Great Hero of Truth,
All ancestors ascend to Nine Skies.  (Ver. 23) 

- Rootless Tree, Attributed to Zhang Sanfeng, Translated by Akrisi, 24 Verses with Commentary and Footnotes






Song of Silent Sitting
Attributed to the Taoist Master Chang San-Feng


"Sitting silently, practice meditation;
The impulse is at yuanguan.
Continuously and gently regulate your breathing;
One yin and one yang brewing in the internal cauldron.
Nature must be enlightened, life be preserved.
Don't rush, let the fire burn slowly.
Close your eyes and look at your heart of life.
Let tranquility and spontaneity be the source.
In a hundred days you will see a result:
A drop of elixir rises from kan
The Yellow woman is the matchmaker in between,
Both the baby and the red lady are perfect.
The beauty is boundless and inexplicable,
All over the body vital energy arises.
Who can know such a marvelous experience?
It's like a dumb person having a beautiful dream.
Swiftly take in the primordial essence;
The elixir breaks through the three obstacles,
Rising from dantian to the top at niyuan,
Then submerging into the zongyuan.
Water and fire combine for form real mercury,
Without wu and ji there is no elixir.  
Let the mind be still, and life be strong.
The spirit radiates throughout 3,000 worlds.
Golden cockerel crows beneath the shadowless tree,
The red lotus blossoms in the middle of night.
Winter comes the sun shines again,
A thunderous roar shatters heaven and earth.
Dragons call, tigers play,
Heavenly music fills the sky with harmony.
In nebulous mixture everything is empty,
The infinite phenomena are all here.
Marvelous in its mystery, mysterious in its marvel.
The circulation of the stream breaks through the three obstacles;
All phenomena are born in the union of heaven and earth.
Drink the dew of nature, sweet like honey,
Saints are buddhas, buddhas are saints.
When the ultimate reality reveals dualism disappears,
Now I realize all religions are the same!
Eat when hungry, sleep when tired,
Offer a joss stick and practice meditation.
The great Tao is just before your eyes,
If you are deluded, you'll miss the chance.
Once you've lost your human form you may have to wait a million eons.
The uninformed dream of going to heaven,
The blind go into a deep forest to practice.
The ultimate secret is marvelous beyond the profane,
Letting out the ultimate secret is heavy sin.  
The four true principles you have to cultivate,
Breaking the gate of mystery to reach the marvelous.
Cultivate day and nigh without break,
Get a master early to develop your elixir.
There are people who know that real mercury
Is the elixir of longevity and immortality.
Cultivate each day, be more determined each day;
Do not regard spiritual cultivation as just an ad hoc task.
To succeed one must cultivate for three years, nine years,
Before a pearl of elixir can be cultivated.
If you want to know who composed this song,
It's by the Taoist Priest of Purity and Void, the Saint Zhang San Feng."

-  Master Chang San-Feng, Song of Silent Sitting, from the "The Secret of Training in the Internal Elixir in the Tai Chi Art."  Sources:  Wong Kiew Kit, The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan, 1996, pp.19-21.  Zhang San Feng, The Secret of Training the Internal Elixir in the Tai Chi Art, preserved by Taiyi Shanren, reprinted from an ancient text by Anhua Publications, Hong Kong, undated, pp. 68-69, in Chinese.  Translated by Wong Kiew Kit, 1996.  




Chang San-Feng, circa 1200 CE

Taoist Grand Master Chang San-Feng
The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan:  Way to Rejuvenation (1980) by Master Jou, Tsung Hwa


Master Jou





Return to the Main Index for this Webpage



Meetings with Master Chang San-Feng
Poetic Reflections by Michael P. Garofalo


"I first met Chang San-Feng above the forest, 
near the clear spring,
when gathering clouds darkened the day,
and Mt. Shasta was silent.

His long beard was black as emptiness,
ear lobes to his shoulders,
holding obsidian in his hand,
pointing to the sun,
eyes staring into infinity,
his long body clothed in silence.

We exchanged "hellos"
smiled and bowed,
a barbarian and an Immortal,
both panting from the climb,
ten-thousand echoes
between our rocky minds.

After billions upon billions of heartbeats past
(for he must have been 888 years old),
I was so bold
as to ask the ancient one
for the sacred mantra of yore.
He lifted his whisk,
and brushed my face,
I could not speak,
my lips were stone,
ideas stopped - 
I was alone." 

-  Michael P. Garofalo 





"After reaching for the needle at the bottom of the sea,
I looked up, one summer's eve,
to see old Chang San-Feng open the garden gate,
and join me for Tai Chi.

We said not a word -
hands moving like clouds,
fingers grasping sparrow's tails,
faces smiling, feeling the sun drop,
glimpsing a half moon climbing the clear sky.

Time flowed without a ripple of memories,
Space embraced a crane cooling its wings,
Being began to sing
softly in tune with the moon.

My dusty black dog barked,
sensing something on the warm wind;
speaking her mind,
ears up.

Master Chang was gone.
Leaving one shoe on a beanpole, and
a page of poems -
mementos for mortals.  

Two black butterflies
danced wing to wing
in love."

-   Michael P. Garofalo 



"Standing at the Mysterious Pass
Centered in the Eternal Now,
Balanced in Body and Open in Mind,
Rooted into the Sacred Space,
Motionless as the Golden Mountain,
Fingers around the Primeval Sphere.
Dragons and Tigers are still dreaming -
Ready for Rebirth.

I breathe in, the World Breathes Out.
The Gate of Space opens;
Heaven moves and Yang is born.
The hands move out, embracing the One.
The mind settles and is clear.
The Dragon Howls,
Ravens fill the Vast Cauldron,
Mind forms melt like mercury,
Spirit rises in the Clouds of Eternity.
Yin appears like the moon at dusk.

I breathe out, the World Breathes In.
The Doors of Emptiness close;
Earth quiets and Yin is born.
The hands move in, entering the One.
The body settles and becomes whole.
The Tiger Roars,
The Great Ox is nourished by the Valley Spirit,
Substances spark from flaming furnaces,
Essence roots in the Watery Flesh.
Yang appears like the sun at dawn.

Dragons and Tigers
Transformed within the Mysterious Pass -
Chanting and Purring.

-   Michael P. Garofalo, Opening at the Mysterious Pass

Opening Hands (Kai Shou) and Closing Hands (He Shou) Qigong Sun Lu Tang’s Style of Taijiquan.  Master Sun Lu Tang
studied Taoism and Internal Mind-Body Arts at various Wu Tang Mountain Temples in 1895.  




"Standing still in the circle of trees, in the sacred space,
one wet and chilly morn,
feet rooted, turtle toes clawing the earth, sunk deeply down;
twisted like a dragon, alert, poised, ready to fly;
settled like a bear, strong, full of power, gathering;
looking through the tiger's eye, mind-intent, penetrating;
embracing the World of Body, Mind, and Spirit,
as ancient as Now, the Three Realms, all still, all one.

From the edge, the cosmic circle opened,
Chang San-Feng slipped inside, smiling,
he stroked his long black beard and spoke softly,
"Ah, another old man standing so still in San Ti Shi.
Continue, my friend, stand in peace, touch the mind. 
Xuan Wu guards the Gate, the Turtle chants, the Snake rises, and
The subtle winds of understanding blow down the centuries.
When still, soar like the Black Dragon; when moving, walk like the Mountain.
Tame the Tiger within, ride the Tiger to the temple, and roar in silence.
Awaken like the Bear from the winter of the soul, and rise like a Man.
Feel the vital energies from bone to brain,
Sense the Great Tao before you Now,
Drop delusions, enter the Gate of Mystery,
Embrace the Center, Empty, unattached, ready to be filled
With boundless beauty, everything There, marvelous beyond words."

The cottonwood leaves spoke with the wind,
the sun rose over the shadows,
my legs shook a little;
the cosmic circle trembled,
Xuan Wu's sword flashed in the sun,
Master Chang disappeared in the trees."

-  Michael P. Garofalo    


Xuan Wu Dadi, Dark Lord of the North

Union of the Three Realms: San Ti Shi



Master Chang's Pepper Talk

Coming through the
clear and cloudless skies
whereabouts known
the master comes walking to my home.
Smiling, herbs in hand,
stepping over dry wheat, star thistle, bindweed, dry land,
startling and scattering a guinea hen band,
onward walks that tall and dignified man.
He strolled past the fence and
into the gardened land.

”I see your peppers green, yellow and red,
spicy hot, like a sharp fajing strike
from that old fellow Chen Wang-ting’s
hidden fist’s bite.”

“Listen, a woodpecker knocks,
your garden becomes more mysterious,
the six sealings are all leaky,
the four closings are all openings.
Step back, raise your arms in joy,
play Cloud Hands in realms of cloudlessness.”

“Plant the seeds of progress with practice
daily, sun after sun, at dawn
to be done, by you,
the chosen one.” 

“Do not neglect fasting the mind,
and, for you, fasting the flesh,
until you are as fast as the Tameless White Tiger,
lean as Xuan Wu’s Snake General,
still and strong as the Black Tortoise,
and worthy of Lao Tzu’s wisdom.”

“Become graceful, gentle, manly, clean.
Court the Jade Maiden, fairest Grace,
Go to Her for your fate to spin,
Weaving beauty till the end.”

“Let the Yellow Dragon stir
the waters of your blood and brain,
build up your bones, break bad habits,
root deeper into the earth, fill youself with energy,
strengthen your spirit, and lengthen your days.”

“Take these herbs with tea,
my friend in the five realms;
I’m going now,
flying west to the sea.”

I picked up the herbs and an acorn squash,
looked up,
and a single cloud passed by
in the clear gray cloudless sky.

-  Michael P. Garofalo, Valley Spirit Garden, Red Bluff, California, August 23, 2011



"I saw Master Chang San-Feng
Enter the Sidhe, Fairies by his side,
Crossing over the pond at dawn.
Astonished I was!
On the teahouse table by the pond I later found
Some of his neatly printed notes
Folded in a well worn tome 
Of the Tao Te Ching, in Chapter 14.

He had written:
”Even for an Immortal, the Past is the Key.

The Future
Grasp at it, but you can’t get it,
Colorless as an invisible crystal web,
Unformed, thin, a conundrum of ideas,
The Grand White Cloud Temple of Possibilities,
Flimsy as a maybe, strong as our hopes,
Silent as eternal Space.
When you meet it, you can’t see its face.
You want to stand for it, but cannot find a place.

The Present
It appears and disappears through the moving ten thousand things,
Quick as a wink, elusive as a hummingbird,
Always Now with no other choice,
Moving ground, unstable Plates,
Real as much as Real gets to Be,
This Day has finally come,
Room for something, for the moment, waits
Gone in a flash, assigned a date,
Gulp, swallowed by the future.
Unceasing, continuous, entering and leaving
The vast empty center of the Elixir Field.

The Past
Becoming obscurer, fading, falling apart,
A mess of memories in the matrix of brains;
Some of it written, fixed in ink, chiseled in stone,
Most of it long lost in graves of pure grey bones.
Following it you cannot see its back,
Only forms of the formless, stories, tales,
Images of imageless, fictions, myths.
A smattering of forever fixed facts,
Scattered about the homes of fading ghosts.    
The twists and turns of millions of tongues
Leaving us languages, our passports to the past.

The future becomes past, the present becomes past,
Every thing lives, subtracting but seconds for Nowness, in the Past. 
The Realms of the Gods, the kingdoms of men,
The Evolutionary Tree with roots a million years long
Intertwined with turtles, dragons, trees, stars and toads;
     crickets, coyotes, grasses, tigers, bears, monkeys and men. 

These profoundest Three of Time
An unraveled red Knot of Mystery,
Evading scrutiny in the darkness of days
Eluding capture in the brightness of nights,
In beginnings and endings are only One, the Tao,
Coming from Nowhere, Returning to Nothing. 

What dimension of Time
Does your mind dwell within?
Future, Present or Past
Where is your homeland? 

The Past holds the accomplishments, the created, the glories, and the Great.
The Present is but a thin coat of ice on the Pond of Fate. 
The Future is an illusion, a guess, a plethora of possible states.

Recreate the Past
By playing within the Present. 
Twisting and reeling one’s silky reality
From the Black Cocoons of the Acts
From which we create our Pasts.
Follow the Ancient Ways.    
The Past is the Key.”   

-  Michael P. Garofalo, September 2011




The Decaying Tree

"The smell of the sea hugged the fog in the redwood trees,
All cool and dank, dimly lit and rank with green,
And in shadowed limbs the Stellar jays jabbered free,
And me, standing silently, an alien in this enchanted scene.

From behind the mossy grey stumps
the sounds of footsteps crunching fronds of ferns
caught my suddenly wary mind ...

"Hello, old friend," said Chang San Feng.
"Master Chang, what a surprise," said I.
Master Chang sat on a stump, smiled, and said,

"Can you hear the Blue Dragon singing in the decaying tree;
Or is it the White Tiger roaring in the wilderness of your bright white skull?
No matter!  The answer is in the questioning; don't you Chan men see?
In the red ball flesh of this decaying tree
Sapless woody shards of centuries of seasons
Nourish the new roots of mindfulness sprouting. 
Yes, Yes, but how can it be?
The up-surging waves of life sprout forth from the decaying tree,
As sure as sunrise rolling over the deep black sea. 
Coming, coming, endlessly coming; waves of Chi

Tan Qian's raven roosts for 10,000 moons
     in the withered branches of the rotting tree;
     then, one day, the weathered tree falls,
     nobody hearing, soundlessly crashing
     on the forest floor, on some unknown noon. 

Over and over, over and over, life bringing death, death bringing life,
Beyond even the miraculous memories of an old Xian like me;
Watching, watching, sequestered from the strife,
Turning my soul away sometimes because I cannot bear to see. 

Even minds may die, but Mind is always free
Bounding beyond, beyond, far beyond you and me;
Somehow finding the Possibility Keys
And unlocking the Door out of the Voids of Eternities."

Master Chang somehow, someway,
slowly disappeared into the red brown heart of the decaying tree.

Then the squawk of the jay
opened my mind's eye to the new day -

-  Michael P. Garofalo
   Remembering Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California
   April 27, 2012




Master Chang San Feng's views on The End of the World is Coming on December 20, 2012.




Return to the Main Index for this Webpage










Cloud Hands - Yun Shou

Cloud Hands - Yun Shou




Michael P. Garofalo's E-mail

Red Bluff, Tehama County, North Sacramento Valley, Northern California, U.S.A.
Cities in the area: Oroville, Paradise, Durham, Chico, Hamilton City, Orland, Corning,
Rancho Tehama, Los Molinos, Tehama, Proberta, Gerber, Manton, Cottonwood,
Anderson, Shasta Lake, Palo Cedro, and Redding, CA

© Michael P. Garofalo, 2003-2015, All Rights Reserved

Cloud Hands Website: T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Chi Kung

Cloud Hands Blog

This webpage was first published on the Internet in January of 2003. 

This webpage was last modified or updated on March 13, 2015.