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The Greatest Kung Fu Masters that Ever Lived

According to Chinese history, martial arts was created to improve the mind and body. Chinese martial arts goes way beyond the 12th century, and there are over 100 different moves and styles to learn. Only a few can call themselves kung fu masters.

Here are five kung fu masters who excelled at martial arts throughout history:


Yi Fei

Yi Fei, known as the greatest general in Chinese history, led armies and defeated thousands on the battlefield. More than that, he was also a great kung fu master. He was responsible for the creation of Xin Yi Quan, which is characterized by aggressive and seemingly linear movements, as well as explosive power that’s most often applied from a short range. This style uses coordinated movements to generate bursts of power intended to overwhelm the opponent. It involves simultaneous attacks and defensive tactics. Yi Fei is also said to have created the eagle claw style of kung fu.



Zhang Sanfeng

Zhang Sanfeng, a Taoist monk, supposedly founded the Wudang Clan, a martial arts sect. He is also said to be the creator of Tai Chi, short for Tai Ji Quan. Legend has it that the Taoist monk Zhang Sanfeng invented Tai Ji Quan through dreaming about or observing a fight between a snake and a crane in the Wu Dang mountains. Some people even believe that Zhang Sanfeng achieved immortality through his martial arts practices.



Wang Lang

Wang Lang is known to be the founder of Tang Lang Quan (Praying Mantis Boxing) back during the Northern Song Dynasty. Legend has it that Wang Lang was walking in the woods and saw a praying mantis fighting a cicada. Wang Lang felt bad for the cicada and tried to drive the mantis away with his sword. The mantis jumped onto his sword and kept dodging every swing and inflicted several cuts on Wang Lang’s arm. He was so amazed by the praying mantis’s skills and agility that he spent more time observing the insect’s fighting style, leading to the Praying Mantis Boxing.



Chen Wangting

Wangting was a Ming Dynasty general who founded Chen-style Tai Chi, which is one of the major five styles of Tai Chi. This style is said to be oldest form and it alternates fast and slow motions with bursts of power. His complete work included five smaller sets of forms, a 108-move fist routine, and a cannon fist routine. He is also responsible for the invention of the first push-hand exerciser.



Zhang Songxi

Legend says that Zhang Songxi was one of the seven students of martial arts master, Zhang Sanfeng. He studied the eight different styles of martial arts by the Chang Jiang and Huan rivers. By combining fundamental Wudang principles and the eight different styles of martial arts, Zhang Songxi created the internal style Wudang Song Xi, which is also known as Nei Jia Quan.


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