The Four Rival Schools
All wuxia heroes and villains study some form of kung fu, often over long years. Theirs is a craft which crosses over from physical training into the mystical and spiritual. Although more than these four schools exist in wuxia, these are the four most prevalent.
The fast, aggressive techniques demonstrated by the likes of Ip Man and Bruce Lee are said to have their roots in Shaolin, an order of Buddhist monks turned steely precision weapon against the barbarians beyond the Dragon Wall. The close range forms of grappling and channeling chi into ferocious attacks on vital points is a contest of wills, famously able to bring low even spirits and demons with techniques such as the Drunken Fist, Thousand Hands Buddha Palm, and Wild Demon Staff.
Followers of the sorcerous books of the Tao practice forms of alchemy both external and internal. External alchemy concerns the preparation of elixirs and poultices said to grant magical powers, while inner alchemy concerns mystical changes within the self and mastery of chi. Practitioners of Wudang master these arts in the hopes of becoming physically immortal. Because Wudang alchemy involves cinnabar, its alchemists are also masters of poison. Among its sorcerous techniques include Cloud-Ascending Ladder, Eight Trigrams Soaring Dragon Palm, and Ring The Distant Bell Fist.
The noble art of the sword saint is a harmonious and graceful craft which combines the geometric balance of feng shui with the elegant poise of fencing. Most, but not all students of Emei are trained in the use of a sword, saber, or woman's hairpin. Emei's precision strikes and nimble defenses prove more than a match against larger and physically stronger opponents, earning it a strong following of female martial artists. Although the original masters of Emei and their misty mountain culture have vanished from the world, its beautiful techniques still survive in the Leap of the Heavens, White Eyebrow Prick, and the dread Dim Mak.
The flow of the Tao, oneness with the universe, is best observed in the motions of the Kongtong. Fluid exercises meant to loosen the body to the subtle pull of Tao form the eclectic training of this school, founded on strong principles of community and chivalry. Because the Tao moves the body like a leaf in the wind, masters of this art are said to be perfectly inexhaustible. The students of Kongtong are an urban breed, trained in the use of unexpected weapons such as the fan, the weighted bracelet, the scarf, and the walking cane. These extravagant, unpredictable forms include Flower Form, Seven Harms Fist, and Between Heaven And Hell Grind.