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Zhang Sanfeng

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Zhang Sanfeng

Real Name

Zhang Sanfeng

First Appearance

Unknown

Original Publisher

Chinese Folklore

Created by

Numerous

Zhang Sanfeng was a legendary Chinese Taoist who is believed to have achieved immortality. According to various accounts, he was born in Shaowu, Nanping, Fujian during the Southern Song dynasty and lived for over 200 years until the mid-Ming dynasty. His given name was Tong (通) and his courtesy name was Junbao (君寶). He specialised in Confucian and Taoist studies, scholarly and literary arts. During the reign of Emperor Shizu in the Yuan dynasty, he was nominated as a candidate to join the civil service and held office as the Magistrate of Boling County (博陵縣; around present-day Dingzhou, Baoding, Hebei). While touring around the mountainous regions near present-day Baoji, Shaanxi, he saw the summits of three mountains and decided to give himself the Taoist name "Sanfengzi" (三丰子), hence he also became known as "Zhang Sanfeng".

Zhang Sanfeng is credited for creating the concept of neijia (內家) in Chinese martial arts, specifically taijiquan, a Neo-Confucian syncretism of Shaolin martial arts with his mastery of daoyin (or neigong) principles. On one occasion, he observed a bird attacking a snake and was greatly inspired by the snake's defensive tactics. It remained still and alert in the face of the bird's onslaught until it made a lunge and fatally bit its attacker. This incident inspired him to create a set of 72 taijiquan movements. He is also associated with the Taoist monasteries in the Wudang Mountains.


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