The Creation of the Wuzuquan System

During the period of the Mongol Supremacy in China (1279-1368 CE) a certain Master, Bai Yufeng, born of a wealthy family was responsible for gathering together the foremost Shaolin exponents of the five unique individual Systems and uniting their different strengths into a new superior system – Wuzuquan.

The reasons for the creation of the system are rooted in the complexities of political events which began as long ago as the seventh century, and which continued up to Bai Yufeng’s own era.

Success was ironically ever the greatest problem for the preservation and maintenance of the arts in their authentic, pure forms. During the early years of the Tang Dynasty, Taizong (born as Li Shimin), the second Tang Emperor, a wise and enlightened ruler and highly successful military commander, had in the struggle to secure the imperial throne, eventually come to succeed largely through the support of the Shaolin Fighting Monks.

Thirteen of the monks he in particular wished to honour with official posts in the imperial government, but this honour they refused, declaring that they had been pleased to fight for him and the justness of his cause, but that they were and remained spiritual men, and had no interest in worldly affairs. Taizong accepted this, however the potential possessed by the masters of Shaolin Gong Fu to play a decisive part in military affairs had by now become firmly established.

Great wealth and opportunity for expansion therefore flowed toward the Temple, and satellite temples began to be established further and further across China. These temples receiving great patronage, became like the Mother Temple at Song Mountain, very wealthy, and in an age where brigandage was rife, each had its own body of Fighting Monks able to defend the temples and of course those temples patrons.

Even prior to the intervention of the Tang Emperor (Taizong), a pattern of Imperial support and patronage had become established (albeit not on the scale of later times). The Sui Emperor, Wendi, for instance granted the original/mother Shaolin Temple dominion over a wide terrain, and not a few Emperors – as followers of Chan Buddhism – offered personal religious worship at Chan/Shaolin temples.

As a result, the exceptional skills of the Gong Fu Masters at the main temple became little by little ever more diminished, as they settled in the many lesser, widely scattered temples. This was undoubtedly the main reason behind Bai Yufeng’s momentous decision to try to save the arts and even build on them, in order to preserve their integrity and essence for perpetuity.

An additional event towards the end of the Tang Dynasty, further reinforced the urgency of such a process. In 845 CE the Emperor Wu decreed the total prohibition of the Buddhist religion, and the dissolution of all Buddhist temples and monasteries (including the Shaolin Temple of Henan Province).

Doubtless this emperor was not unaware of the potential danger of challenge to the secure tenure of his hold on the Imperial Throne, posed by the organised structure of Buddhism and the extent of the influence it commanded over the hearts and minds of its followers in China; and especially the potential threat posed by the community of fearless monks, great and renowned exponents of martial arts, at the Buddhist Shaolin Temple.

Therefore, for the first time the community of monks at Shaolin was persecuted and forcibly dispersed. The persecution did not last long, but it was a warning. Success could be more deadly a threat to the preservation of the arts of Shaolin than persecution, where politics were concerned.

The role of Shaolin monks, Gong Fu masters possessed of formidable powers and peerless fighting techniques, played not infrequently a crucial part in those distant times in seeing legitimate emperors successfully fight off opponents.

It is not unlikely therefore that in the period (Yuan Dynasty) up to and including that in which Bai Yufeng wisely sought to gather together the foremost exponents of the five most renowned Shaolin Gong Fu systems, that for political reasons Shaolin Gong Fu Masters had been encouraged to remain less united, and to teach their arts in diverse corners and parts of the vast Chinese Empire.

Whatever the reasons, the dispersion of the arts and their most gifted exponents, had, by the age in which Bai Yufeng and a few other far-sighted Gong Fu Masters lived, become a grave matter in which it seemed certain that posterity and China would, before long, lose forever these precious jewels of knowledge of the arts. Bai Yufeng’s initiative in bringing together the greatest living exponents of these famous systems was therefore timely indeed.

According to history, even as the five exponents and Bai Yufeng were congratulating themselves upon their achievement, a stranger un-beckoned and unknown appeared, the mysterious Hian Loo, the ‘Lady in The Green Dress.’ She declared that the system they had created was indeed the finest that she had encountered, but that it lacked somewhat, nevertheless. Being wise, and impressed by her earnestness, not to mention her presence, they listened to what she had to say. This amounted to the following: ‘Your system is excellent, but it is too ‘Yang,’ too hard. With some refinement, through the addition of such ‘Yin’ elements as I would wish you to include, it will indeed be unbeatable, but even then I would advise that you No Longer Boast unguardedly of this truly unbeatable system.’

The exponents of the five systems and Bai Yufeng took counsel and wisely listened to Hian Loo’s advice, and accepted gladly her guidance. Amongst many subtleties of movement she was responsible for inclusion of Dim Mak techniques: for though less physically strong than the exponents of the five systems, her subtlety and finesse had been turned to an advantage they did not possess – extensive knowledge of the most lethal striking points of the human body: the inclusion of this final element completed the refinement of the new system.