Component: Canon

Items related to the Canon Component of the Earth Dragon Canon Method of Internal Martial Art Practice

The Making of Legends

The Daoist Temple at Wudang Mountain

The Legends Zhang Sanfeng

Zhang Sanfeng (1247 – 1370) is a legendary figure of Daoism, and the mythical creator of taijiquan. Some stories about Zhang Sanfeng place him as early as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907 – 960 CE) when China was undergoing a period of disunion. Others place him in the Song dynasty (960 – 1279 CE) which saw many achievements in science, philosophy, and arts, including the first use of printing (700 years before Europe), and the use of gunpowder in grenades.

Zhang Sanfeng

If Zhang Sanfeng existed, he was probably born in 1247 and lived during the years of Marco Polo’s (1254 – 1324 CE) visit to China. He studied Buddhism and martial arts at the Shaolin temple before leaving and establishing the Daoist temples at Wudang Mountain.

At Wudang Mountain, Zhang Sanfeng created the taijiquan martial art. One story says that he saw a magpie and serpent fighting in the grass. He considered the softness and fierceness of both creatures and incorporated these ideas with his knowledge of the Huangdi Neijing, and Shaolin martial arts to create taijiquan.

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Origin of Baguazhang

The Trigrams of the Bagua in Heavenly Cycle.

Dong Haichuan’s Baguazhang

There is little doubt that Dong Haichuan (1797 – 1882) created and formalized the martial art of baguazhang. When discussing the creation of a formalized martial art, identifying the actual events that contributed to its development is difficult. Fanciful stories cast the art as the creation of a legendary figure, or as the secret teachings of a reclusive master. In the case of Dong Haichuan, he was both legendary and historical.

The widely accepted historical account of baguazhang’s development says that Dong was a member of the Quanzhen (Complete Truth) sect of Daoism. The Complete Truth Daoist walked in a circle while chanting as a method of meditation.

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The Vinegar Tasters: Buddha, Confucius, and Laozi

The Three Vinegar Tasters of Chinese Philosophy

If Laozi (Lao Tzu), the old sage usually associated with Daoism existed, he lived during the Golden Age of Philosophers. The book attributed to him is the Dao De Jing (The Way and Its Virtue) and represents the ideal man living agreeably with nature.

Laozi was probably a librarian in the Zhou dynasty Hall of Records. Realizing the dynasty was failing, Laozi headed off to retire in the wild west. At the western border of the kingdom, a guard recognized him as a great philosopher and asked him to share his teachings. The result of this conversation is the Dao De Jing.

The Dao De Jing’s central concepts are wu wei, de, and pu.

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Qi and The Five Elements

acupuncture needles on antique Chinese coin

The Yellow Emperor (2497 – 2398 BCE) is the legendary inventor of Chinese medicine. In his classic work the Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon) various principles, such as yin and yang, qi, and the wuxing, compose the Universe. The work was one of the first medical treatise to stress the integration of both spiritual and physical treatments as a holistic approach to medical treatment.

Image of the Yellow Emperor or China Creator of Accupuncture

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Origins of the Eight Trigrams

In the beginning there was nothing but a formless chaos. Out of this chaos, there was born an egg. When the egg split the heavy yolk sank to become the Earth, while the light egg white rose to become the Heavens.

That the Universe is made of two forces, a heavy yin aspect and a lighter yang aspect whose separation and interaction are constantly creating all aspects of the Universe, is the foundation of Daoism. This line of thought developed to include all the social and physical interactions of man.

Before it developed into a complex system of creation and organization, Daoism was more practical. Yin and yang represented different times of the day and of the year. Daylight was the time for work, night was for rest.

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Cosmology

Monument of great astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, Torun, Poland

The internal martial arts we study in the Earth Dragon Canon Method take their name from the Daoist cosmology attributed to Fu Xi. Cosmology is an account or theory of the origin of the Universe, and, by extension, humanity’s place in it.

Cosmologies often borrow from one another, creating new cosmologies by applying the scientific discoveries of the day. Some cosmologies develop into religious beliefs; others develop through the lens of scientific thought.

Here is a quick historical tour of cosmologies:

Brahmanda from the Hindu Rigveda (1500 – 1200 BCE) said that the Universe is a cosmic egg that cycles between expansion and total collapse. It claimed the Universe is a living entity bound to the perpetual cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.

The Ptolemaic Universe (200 CE) said that the Universe orbits around the Earth. It was the model accepted by many world religions of the time.

During the next 1200 years, the Ptolemaic universe graduated through many models until Copernicus turned the Universe inside out and discarded the Earth centric view.

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