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Zhang SanFeng

Zhang SanFeng was a Taoist monk in the 13th century who lived in the Wudan district. Zhang SanFeng is often quoted as the founder of Taijiquan. There is no historical evidence for this, but it is certain that he introduced 13 Shi (standing positions) as a technique for the conduct of war against the Mongolians.

During a certain period of the 13th century Mongolia occupied the whole of China. Zhang SanFeng lead a Taoist monastery the Wudan mountains, that secretly also functioned as a training centre for soldiers. Under the motto ‘soft can beat hard’ Zhang SanFeng and his students taught soldiers 13 simple fighting techniques. In this way they were actively involved in the uprising against the Mongolians.

After the victory against the Mongolians the first Ming emperor – out of fear for his position – started a campaign against everybody who had had some power in the resistance movement during the war. Zhang SanFeng and his followers fled to the east and went into hiding it the Siming mountains (now NingBo city).

After the first emperor died Zhang SanFeng and his followers came out of hiding and openly started calling their system ‘Taijigong’ (gong = exercise). Their techniques were called ‘Taiji SaQi’: SaQi is the way ‘37’ is pronounced in the NingBo dialect. In the Taijiquan world this way of teaching would later be known as SimingPai, NanPai or the Southern school. The core of this system was the use of 37 standing positions to produce spontaneous movement.

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