about me


Wu Tai Chi

Tai Chi history

Tai Chi founder

Local classes



Xin Yi Liu He

Martial Arts

Chinese Articles

English Articles

Chi Kung

Chinese Medicine


Chinza Products


Founder Banner

The New Zealand Wu Tao Federation
Wu Style Tai Chi.

The Tai Chi Founder

Poster size 510 X 720mm. Digitally enhanced image © 1996 Stephen Yan / Gerad Taylor

Poster of Zhang Shan Feng (1247 - 1366).

Zhang Shan Feng (1247 - 1366) lived during the Yuan Dynasty.

He was born in Northern China (at the time China was divided into the Yuan Dynasty in the North and the Song Dynasty in the South) and died in the latter part of the Yuan Dynasty at the age of 119.

Much historic evidence can be found of his existence during the period. When local people were about to bury Zhang after his death in Bao Ji (a small county in Northern China) in 1366, he was found to have come back to life. Some say he carried on living without a clear ending.

Five Emperors in different periods of the Ming Dynasty, which started shortly after Zhang's death, sent people ostensibly to look for Zhang, Statuewhile actually tracking a political refugee. They also hoped to claim that Zhang Shan Feng was still alive and that their dynasty was blessed by him. He was never found, and no traces could be found to confirm of his existence after his death in 1366.

Back to top

This belated interest in Zhang caused much historical confusion as to the actual period of his existence and has contributed to the myth of his immortality. His resurrection could be interpreted as the resurrection of his spirit as opposed to his flesh. These resurrection stories are similar to such stories in other religions much like the Bodhidharma of Buddhism. Christianity also has a parallel with Christ's resurrection.

Putting the resurrection stories aside, Zhang Shan Feng is still documented to have lived to the great age of 119. Zhang was recorded to have been a very bright child. When he was a young man he was a scholar, not only familiar with the sutras of  Toaism, Confucianism and Buddhism, but also famous for his other skills. These were sword play, Chinese medicine, music, calligraphy, chess and poetry. However he was most famous for his magical painting talent.

His self portrait, depicted in this poster, conveys his feeling of the spirit of peace and life. In his twenties Zhang passed the exams of government office and on the recommendation of Liu Bin Zhang, his friend and teacher, became a government officer. Subsequently he was deeply disappointed by politics and the unpredictable nature of life and decided to give up his position of privilege and search for the truth of life.Wu JianQuan

Back to top

He spent nearly thirty years traveling and learning from different teachers but no-one he met could give him real answers. At sixty seven he was said to have been spiritually guided to go to Zhong Nan mountain where he met his true teacher-- Huo Long Zhen Ren and learnt the ultimate truth. This line of teaching the truth was started by Chen Tuan (871 - 989).

Chen Tuan  found that the three religions Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism arrived at the same truth. His line of teaching was called Yin Xian Pai and Zhang Shan Feng became a great master of this teaching. Eventually Zhang left for Wu Dang mountain in South China to start his own teaching of the truth.

Zhang found that a fit healthy body is important for spiritual unfolding so he taught his disciples a martial arts system called Wu Dang Pai which was an improved martial system combining Taoist meditation theory with the Shaolin system.

Back to top

Some years after establishing this system he had a new inspiration and this lead to him founding Tai Chi, a new way of fitness, self defense and meditation and a more direct connection with the truth.

Stephen and The Chairman of Wu Tao

Practicing Tai Chi helps treat illness and maintain health. It is also a simple and natural way of self defense. Tai Chi is also the most advanced form of meditation, and to understand the truth of life was the main purpose of Tai Chi. More than six hundred years later the art has become popular around the globe.


This picture was taken in 2000. It shows Dr.Yan and the Chairman of Wu Tao at Wudang Mountain.

We were lucky to obtain a rare copy of the self portrait of Zhang Shan Feng and using modern digital enhancement, and without altering it's integrity, we have restored a level of clarity to the aged image.

Back to top

From the poster you can feel the wisdom, naturalism and the peace of the great man.

This poster is dedicated to Grand Master Ma Yue Liang and Wu Yin Hua, the third generation of Wu style Tai Chi and the 19th generation of the truth Great Tao. The poster is also dedicated to Grand Master Cheng Tin Hung, the chairman of the Hong Kong Tai Chi association, and to all Tai Chi practitioners around the World. Stephen Z. J. Yan President of the New Zealand Wu Tao society.

You can purchase a copy or copies of the poster from Stephen Yan chinza@xtra.co.nz

Back to top

The New Zealand Wu Tao Society
Wellington, New Zealand
Phone: Stephen Yan on (04) 471 1818

Wu Tao and all associated pages©2006 Stephen Yan Zi Yuan - All Rights Reserved