Taoist Styles of Kung-Fu

Taoism (often spelt Daoism) is an ancient system of Chinese philosophical beliefs and concepts. As Taoism was one of the earliest belief systems in Ancient Chinese society, its impact in the martial arts is a formative one. Taoist concepts such as meeting force with softness and using the mind above all to shape circumstances in the real world, permeate many Martial Arts and Internal Styles in particular. The concepts of Ying and Yang, cosmically connected opposites, and the ancient divination system known as the I-Ching, form the basis for the combat systems of Tai Chi Chuan and Ba Gua respectively. Tao or Dao is seen by many to be the same thing as Chi power – a natural life force that flows through all things in the universe. Tao Yin is the ancient form of breathing exercises designed to promote health and long life that predates Chi Kung.

Taoist martial arts were developed and refined by Taoist masters and sometimes Taoist monks. Kung Fu differentiates between Internal Taoist Kung-Fu practised in Taoist monasteries, such as the Wudang Monastery, with those external Buddhist Styles practised at Buddhist Temples, such as the Shaolin Monastery. Buddhism was brought to China later by the Indian monk Bodhidarma, where he integrated it with Kung-Fu at the Shaolin Temple. Nevertheless Kung-Fu was in existence for thousands of years before then. As in the case of all imported religions (as Buddhism was), they do not wipe away the previous religion, they inter-marry (syncretise) and build upon their precursors. For this reason it can be said that all Kung-Fu systems contain combat and life philosophies based on Taoism.

Kung-fu styles which can be considered to be Taoist include:

  • Tai Chi Chuan
  • Ba Gua
  • Liuhebafa