Zhang Sanfeng (1247 – 1370) is another 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 it was used in Europe), and the use of gunpowder (invented by Daoists during the Tang dynasty) 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.
It was at Wudang Mountain that Zhang Sanfeng created the martial art of Taijiquan. The 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 form Taijiquan.
Internal martial arts creator or not, he is revered at China’s Wudang mountain that was made popular in the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” movie. The villages and locations that have been popularized by the martial arts of China are a major tourist draw for the country. Wudang Mountain is no different. The stylist that practice the Wudang martial arts claim that theirs are the original forms.