Wudang Kung Fu: Fundamental Training with Zhou, Xuan-yun is an introductory program for warm-ups, basic stances, punches, and kicks from this art from Wudang Mountain. Zhou is a Daoist monk and Wudang Kung Fu is an art that the monks of Wudang Mountain developed by blending Daoist concepts with traditional Chinese fighting arts, integrating physical and spiritual practices in this internal-style of Wudang Kung Fu.
The DVD is well produced, as I’ve come to expect from YMAA. The menus are easy to navigate. From the main menu, you can play all in English or Chinese or go to chapters. Zhou instructs in Chinese, and if you watch the English version there is an English translation voice over. Both tracts have the English translation in subtitles across the bottom. The chapters are broken down like this: About Xuan Yun, Introduction, The Meaning of Internal Arts, Warm Up, Stances, Striking Drills, Kicks, Sequence – Slow, Sequence – Fast, Martial Applications, and Conclusion.
The footage of Zhou in the short section about him at the beginning demonstrates that he is an extremely accomplished martial artist, and seeing him perform in the scenic settings was a good way to start the program. I also enjoyed the beautiful scenes as the history of Wudang was explained with a voice over in the introduction.
The section on the meaning of internal arts is short and provides a simple explanation and then the program goes into the warm up. The warm up section begins by showing Zhou doing a couple of warm up exercises and encourages the viewer to warm up before training. Due to time, it does not instruct on a complete warm up, but illustrates squats, various pushups, leg stretches, splits, waist turning, and wrist stretches. Most martial artists will be familiar with these. If not, you may want to consult other resources for more detailed instruction on stretching and warming up. These first four sections of the DVD take 21 minutes.
Zhou instructs that stance training is beneficial in itself to establish your roots, and as a type of stretching. Side and Straight Horse Stances, Bow Stance, Crouching Stance, Empty Stance, and Side Stance are the stances illustrated.
Zhou teaches the striking drills by themselves before incorporating them into longer forms. Horse Stance Punchs, Side Horse Stance Punches, Bow Stance Punches, and Elbow Strikes are performed.
In the Kicks section, a brief history of Wudang kicking is explained while Zhou is shown demonstrating various kicks. Zhou opens with saying he won’t teach all the kicking combinations, but will show 24 basic kicks. There is not a lot of detail in the instruction, just the basics of each of the 24 kicks and then Zhou demonstrates. He demonstrates applications with a partner holding pads for most of the kicks. I do caution anyone regarding the use of crescent type kicks, or any kicks for that matter, to kick a weapon, especially a knife, from someone’s hand. I know many martial arts teach this, but to actually do so is a different story. I wish Zhou wouldn’t have mentioned this. Zhou does give tips along the way, but again, there is not a lot of detail in the instruction. A novice will need more instruction on kicking, especially for some of the jumping and turning kicks included here, but for an overview of the kicks in the system this DVD is very good.
The forms (Sequence) section starts with some general comments about forms while Zhou performs outside. Then the DVD moves back inside and Zhou illustrates the first form. It’s also shown outside too. Even though this first form is the simplest form taught at Wudang Mountain, it’s a fairly long and complicate form compared to some of the simple beginning forms of some arts. It is a very beautiful form to watch as Zhou performs, especially outside.
After the demonstrations of the form, Zhou breaks down and demonstrates the various moves from the form and applications of the moves. I really liked this, because I think having an application to a move helps learn forms. There is also a written insert in the DVD that contains the 24 postures/moves of the basic form in English and Chinese.
Zhou concludes by thanking his assistants and shares a couple of words regarding training and then the final scene shows him playing a Chinese flute. The entire program was 97 minutes long. The DVD also contains the standard YMAA extras with catalog and video previews.
I thought this was an excellent introduction and overview of the basics of Wudang Kung Fu. To learn the style, a person will need more than this video, but that can be said of any martial art. For the person who is studying this style, this will complement their instruction nicely. If you are studying a similar style, this will also be very complementary. For those that are just interested in various styles, this is a great overview.