The Wudang Pai style is an ancient Chinese system of martial and life-prolonging arts based on the Taoist principles of Yin and Yang – the most famous of these arts is Tai Chi. Wudang is an internal martial art, which means it uses qi or internal energy to power movements rather than muscular strength. As such people of all health levels can cultivate internal strength through these arts. The Wudang style comes from an area in China known as the Wudang Mountains, where martial knowledge is traditionally passed down from master to disciple. At the Wudang San Feng school in China where Lucia learnt the Wudang style, emphasis is on practising basic skills, as one has to be well-acquainted with the bottom in order to reach the top. At the school in London, we teach Tai Chi (Taiji), Qi Gong (Chi Kung)Kung Fu (Gong Fu) and Wudang Sword.


Tai Chi (Taiji) is an art which is famous for its slow and graceful movements. Moving slowly helps the practitioner to build internal energy (qi), which wards off illness and promotes mental peace. At the heart of Tai Chi are eight ways of manipulating qi known as the Eight Tai Chi Powers; for example peng/ward off, which is an outwards-moving, expansive energy (like a bubble or bomb blast). Through repetition of basic exercises students learn to feel and direct their own qi for health, before condensing it into ‘powers’ which can be used martially, or preserved for raising the practitioner’s energetic state. It should be noted the road to effective martial usage of the powers is long, and is not our main focus. We normally practise the martial aspects of  Tai Chi in a gentle and lighthearted way in the Traditional Wudang Tai Chi classes, and do not train this aspect at the Tai Chi for Health classes.


Kung Fu (Gong Fu) in its traditional Chinese meaning refers to practicing something repeatedly until you become really good at it. In the west however, the term ‘kung fu’ has become synonymous with a harder, faster style of training. In the Wudang Pai style, we have a number of faster moving arts like Bagua and Xingyi, as well as the Taiyi forms which have both fast and slow sections. The 18-step Wudang Fist form combines elements of all the above with Tai Chi and is a good introduction to the range of Wudang arts. The Kung Fu is more physically demanding than Tai Chi or Qi Gong, so as well as the 18-step Kung Fu Form class, we teach an additional Kung Fu Strength class which details how to build muscular strength while keeping the qi flowing.


Qi Gong (Chi Kung) is an ancient art that, like Tai Chi, promotes health by nourishing internal energy known as qi. Unlike Tai Chi, Qi Gong focusses solely on health, and does not include self-defence elements. Many hospitals now use Qi Gong in their cancer recovery programmes; it can also be used to protect against the common cold. A Qi Gong exercise known as standing stake lies at the heart of Wudang Kung Fu, these static postures teach the body to ‘coagulate’ together, and move as a harmonised, powerful  unit. At the school we also practise Five Element Qi Gong; the five animals of Turtle, Snake, Crane, Tiger and Dragon each correspond to an element and vital organ from Traditional Chinese Medicine. The forms for each of these animals can be practised on their own for students who have particular health issues.


The Wudang sword style is famous for its mix of fast and slow movements which make it exhilarating to practise. The sword becomes an extension of the body and mind, extending awareness as it teaches students how to transmit power over greater distances. This art form builds on empty-hand skills and is introduced once students are proficient at empty hand Tai Chi forms. Students initially look at individual sword strokes before going on to study the Wudang Seven Star Sword Form. Wudang sword is currently only available as a private lesson.


The Wudang basic skill set draws from across the board of Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Bagua, Xingyi, and includes the foundation exercises which are common to all these arts. Regular favourites include standing stake Qi Gong (teaches body to be straight, improves balance, opens hips and shoulders) ‘mud-walking’ technique (improves balance, opens hips, teaches precise footwork), ‘fishes in eight’ (introduces how to use power of waist and back) and a variety of exercises aimed at teaching students to feel and use internal power.


Lucia Ring-Watkins is a 16th Generation Disciple of the Wudang Xuan Wu Clan, her Shifu (master/teacher) is 15th Generation Descendant Yuan Li Min. She has practised Tai Chi since 2002, starting out with Yang Style in London. Lucia has spent long periods of time in full-time study in Wudang San Feng school in China, where after a trial period of several years she was accepted as disciple in 2010. She now has the pleasure of helping her teacher spread the Wudang style around Europe. In general, Lucia is active in promoting Wudang Pai in Europe; including judging an international competition in Spain, teaching in France and performing at the World Expo in Italy. For full details of her Wudang story, see article in Tai Chi Union magazine


Wudang Xuan Wu Clan is one of two prominent Kung Fu clans still active in Wudang Mountains today. The living head of the clan in Wudang is Grand Master You Xuan De, who is a 14th Generation Descendant of Zhang San Feng, the founder of  Tai Chi (see philosophy section). Grand Master You has hundreds of disciples in countries all over the world, among which are several highly skilled practitoners who have dedicated their lives to promoting Wudang Kung Fu. One such practitioner is Lucia’s teacher, Yuan Li Min. He, along with his wife, 15th Generation Descendant Tian Li Fang, set up Wudang San Feng School in Wudang Mountains, and have helped their disciples set up schools all over the world. Yuan Li Min visits London to give workshops every one or two years, to be kept informed of future events please contact Lucia.