Xuan Wu, also known as Zhen Wu Da Di 真武大帝, was supposedly a prince who left his family at the age of 16 in order to cultivate and study Dao in Wudang. This is just one of several stories recounting his origin. After 42 arduous years of cultivation and practice, Xuan Wu became enlightened and entered Dao. It is said that once during Xuan Wu's meditation he was interrupted by a rumbling inside his bowels. As a result, he tore out his stomach and intestines which he then flung to the ground so they would no longer disturb his concentration. After being torn out, his stomach became a tortoise and his intestines became a snake. The tortoise and snake together have since been regarded as a representation of Xuan Wu and can be seen in artwork and literature on and about Wudang and Xuanwu.
After a many decades of practicing martial arts, an older adept named Zhang Sanfeng traveled to Wudang at the age of 70 in order to learn the Daoist methods of cultivating immortality. With many years of dedicated practice, he combined his practice of martial arts with the Daoist practices of daoyin 导引 and neidan 内丹 to create what we now commonly refer to today as Taijiquan 太极拳. Since that time a lineage that stretches back to the Ming Dynasty has been flourishing and expanding under the legacy left behind by Zhang Sanfeng. The Sanfeng Lineage has had many famous, prominent, and high level disciples who have continued to cultivate themselves and teach the subsequent generations of practitioners – a tradition that continues to this day with the modern iteration of the Sanfeng Lineage.
The Wudang Mountains are considered to be the Daoist "holy land" of China. Archaeological record shows that before its first temples were constructed seekers, adepts, martial artists, court ministers, and even princes had been traveling to Wudang for thousands of years to cultivate themselves in search of enlightenment through Dao. The two most famous of which are Xuan Wu 玄武, the god of Wudang, and Zhang Sanfeng 张三丰, the immortal who created the practice we know today as Taijiquan.
The Wudang Mountains are comprised of 72 peaks. The first temple complexes were constructed during the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907). During the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) an enormous expansion of temple complexes were constructed under the third Ming Emperor, Yong Le 永乐. The mountains became a world heritage UNESCO site in 1994 and are still home to an active and growing Daoist community. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims flock to Wudang every year in order to pay respects to the deities, learn more about Daoist practice, and experience the beautiful scenery and environs that Wudang has to offer.