The Making of Legends
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.
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.