Taoism Philosophy in Chinese Kung Fu

Many people have a misconception that Chinese Kung Fu are about fighting and killing. It is actually based on Chinese philosophy and about improving wisdom and intelligence. Taoist philosophy is deeply rooted in and had a profound influence on the culture of China martial arts.

Chinese Kungfu



Taoism (also spelled Daoism) refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao, which is the mechanism of everything that exists. The word “Tao” (or “Dao”) is usually translated as “way”, “path” or “principle”, although the word also means “nature” as in the nature of all things as well as the natural world.

Chinese Kungfu

The life goals or three jewels for a Taoist are compassion, humility and moderation. Taoism is about living within nature’s laws and in harmony with the cycle of nature. It is about recognizing that everything is interconnected, that everything you do affects everything else around you. Taoists seek to live in harmony with the Tao. Kung fu aims to keep us in harmony and balance.


Taolist Philosophy


Taolist developed the concept of Yin and Yang to explain that all things have two aspects. Both are necessary and harmony can only be achieved through seeking a balance of Yin and Yang energies. Examples of Yin and Yang are hot and cold, bright and dark, male and female.

Chinese Kungfu

In Taoism, Qi (pronounced chee) means air or breath; Qi is considered the basis of life. Very simply put, Qi is a kind of vital energy or force that is fluid and constantly changing form. Qi is an important energy which can be used to attain equilibrium. In the human body, Qi (along with blood and fluid) travels along channels known as meridians which lead to the organs. The flow of Qi can be regulated through the use of points along these meridians to enhance health and wellbeing.


Taoist philosophy related to Kung Fu


Kung Fu and traditional breathing exercises also aim to enhance the balance of Yin and Yang and the flow of Qi through the body. This has a positive impact on overall physical and mental health and is a great form of preventative health care.

Chinese Kungfu

Some basic examples of Taoist philosophy related to Kung Fu:

“Control of breathing and effective use of Qi to maximise inner strength, physical power, and promote sound mental health”

“Nothing in the world is softer and weaker than water;

But, for attacking the hard and strong,

there is nothing like it!

For nothing can take its place.

That the weak overcomes the strong, and the soft overcomes the hard,

This is something known by all, but

Practiced by none. “

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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Wudang Martial Arts

Wudang martial arts are one of the key schools of Chinese martial arts. It originated in Wudang Mountain in Hubei Province, which is one of the four famous Taoist mountains in China.

Chinese Kungfu



Wudang martial arts are greatly related to the Chinese native religion – Taoism. It is said that Zhang Sanfeng, a Taoist who lived in the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279) created Wudang martial arts. He has been honored as the founder of Wudang School. By ingeniously combining the essence of I Ching and Tao Te Ching with martial arts, Zhang Sanfeng created Wudang Martial arts that are dominated by Tai Chi Chuan, Hsing I Chuan and Pakua Boxing with important bodybuilding and health keeping values. The Ming Dynasty (AD 1368-1644) saw the formal popularity of Wudang Kungfu. In order to promote Wudang Taoism all over China, Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty assembled 300,000 civilian workers to build 33 Taoist complexes in Mt. Wudang. It took them 13 years to finish the whole construction. With a long history, Wudang Martial arts are broad and profound.




After continuous innovation, improvement and enrichment by Martial arts masters of later dynasties, Wudang Martial arts became one of the major schools of Chinese martial arts. It has long been honored as the most authoritative kungfu in the south China alongside Shaolin, the most authoritative martial arts in the north China. Currently, Wudang Martial arts have been introduced overseas, becoming a sport activity for health preserving, disease curing and life prolonging.




Chinese Kungfu Chinese Kungfu

Wudang Martial arts embody distinctive Taoist culture and are a natural combination of Martial arts and regimen, profound in both traditional martial arts culture and scientific theory. It’s in line with the concept of internal cultivation and external exercising that integrates physical with psychological training.

Chinese Kungfu

Wudang Kungfu values martial spirit rather than strength, and encourages the use of softness to conquer the unyielding, focusing on the principle of “levering a ton of weight with four ounces of force” and “letting flexibility control hardness”. Meanwhile, Wudang martial arts are more for defense than attack. It doesn’t advocate attack but at the same time it is hard to defeat. Its functions and features also include prolonging life, helping cure and prevent diseases and boosting intelligence etc.

The basic Wudang Martial arts spirit is to value martial arts while at the same time upholding virtue; this has been advocated by martial arts performers from generation to generation. Wudang martial arts are just like a knowledgeable teacher from whom people can learn a lot in order to survive in this complicated world.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

P.S. We need people with similar passion to join or partner with us in promoting ethnic handicrafts! Please contact us at interact@interactchina.com to make any suggestions that you may have in co-operating with us, or join as Affiliate.