Wudang martial arts come from Wudang Mountain in China. Of all the martial arts we practice on the mountain, Wudang is the most famous for the sword. Some of the Wudang sword forms include the Eight Immortals’ Sword, the Taiyi Daoist sword, and Tai Chi sword. Mastering the sword is considered the highest achievement in martial arts.
Because of its high level of difficulty, the sword is considered the most Yang of all weapons. Yin and Yang are ancient Chinese concepts that describe how seemingly opposite energies are in fact complementary and interdependent. Dark and light, cold and hot, winter and summer, earth and sky, water and fire, rest and movement, can all be understood as Yin and Yang. Working with these ideas, people in ancient China realized that Yin and Yang could be used to understand every part of the natural world.
Of all the animals, dragons are the most Yang because of their strong, bright fire energy. Many of the movements in the Wudang sword forms are named after dragons, such as “the spring dragon leaves its cave”, “the swimming dragon skims the water”, and “the lazy dragon lies down”. I think that the smooth twisting movements in our sword forms also look a lot like the movements of dragon!
In China, there are legends about a Daoist sword master named Lü Dong Bin (呂洞賓) who was known as the “sword immortal”. Another of his names was 纯阳子, which means “master of pure Yang”. He was the leader of a group of known as the Eight Immortals. It is said that when Lü Dong Bin traveled through the mortal world, he would disguise his sword as a beautiful woman, who never left his side.
When you achieve mastery of the sword, it becomes an extension of your body, Moving your sword becomes as natural as moving your hand. Watching a master swordsman is like watching a a master calligrapher, or even a conductor in front of an orchestra. Each of them is at one with the tool they are using to create something beautiful. This type of transcendent experience carries over into your day to day life. Once you stop viewing yourself as separate from the world around you, there is a great sense of connectedness and harmony.