Xiao Jiu Tian Wu Tao

Xiao Jiu Tian Wu Tao or (Little Nine Heaven)

Perhaps the oldest Taoist system known today based on the nine chambers scriptures written by the yellow emperor Huang-Ti around 2698BC. It consists of three skills: jiu kung (boxing), chian-kuan jen (swordsmanship) and shih shui (bone marrow washing). It is based on the Tao’s practice of the balancing between yin and yang to relax the tendons and bones, and to perform marrow washing. The theory behind the nine chamber fist is in the exercising of the palms, fists, elbows, shoulders, waist, thighs, knees and feet. It implies the nine chamber evolution illustrated in the tai chi theory of the Book of Changes (I-Ching).

Jiu Kung (Boxing)

According to Taoism, nature (the universe) is the macrocosm and the human body is a microcosm of nature. The kidneys are positioned at the waist and represent tai chi. From tai chi comes the two instruments. In terms of the human body, they are the two major tendons on both sides of the spine which go all the way down to the thighs. From the two instruments come the four phenomena which correspond to the four limbs. The two instruments also reach to the four terminals: tongue, teeth, nails and hair. From the four phenomena come the eight diagrams (paqua). In relation to the human body, they are the four limbs and eight joints. There are 64 diagrams in the human body.

The nine chamber fist originates its force from the waist, then to the two major tendons and then to the four limbs. This is called the method of mind. Then it flows from the four limbs and eight joints to the joints of the hands and feet. This is called the method of hands. There is also one other method called the method of steps.. This method uses the five elements (metal, water, wood, fire and earth) to represent the five organs (lung, kidney, liver, heart and spleen). The five organs radiate the five chis.

The boxing forms are:

  1. Elbow 1 (Exercise 1)                              11) Cat
  2. Elbow 2 (Exercise 2)                              12) Rabbit
  3. Elbow 3 (Exercise 3)                              13) Eagle
  4. Chicken                                                    14) Butterfly
  5. Snake                                                       15) Ox
  6. Dragon                                                     16) Horse
  7. Tiger                                                         17) Sheep
  8. Tuo                                                            18) Monkey
  9. Wolf                                                          19) Mouse
  10. Dog                                                         20) Mantis

The 17 animals are combined into three advanced animal forms.

Ground maneuvers are:

  1. Green Dragon lying on the path
  2. Carp lying on the lotus
  3. Magpie taking its perch
  4. Black Dragon winding around the pillar
  5. Breaking the back and cutting the bone
  6. Taking the form of the shrimp
  7. Taking the form of the toad
  8. Golden scissors maneuvering
  9. Sickle maneuvering
  10. Sealing the passes
  11. Hanging the horn
  12. Picking Lotus
  13. Hand supporting the belly
  14. Flying the heart
  15. Striking the knee
  16. Back Hanging
  17. Leg Exercising
  18. Pulling up the Willow

Chian-kuan jen (Sword)

The Little Nine Heaven sword is long handled and composed of a pair of twin swords, fabricated together after the 12 earthly branches. This combines the five elements and seven stars. The sword is four feet two inches in length, with five reclined saw-teeth in the mid-section and seven reclined saw-teeth in the stem or rear section.

In training, one is taught to use either one or two hands and to use the various strategies of all the short-range weapons. These include the hammer, staff, cudgel and knife.

A student is taught to block and counterattack in one move and to use the tip, midsection and stem of the sword. This differs from the shaolin system of using only the tip. The sword exercises are simple and without complex patterns, but are highly effective against an attack. A student’s goal is to attain a high proficiency and flexibility in using the sword without having to rigidly adhere to formalities.


  1. Yin/Yang sword
  2. Crane sword
  3. Snake sword
  4. Monkey sword
  5. Dragon sword

Shih Shui (Bone Marrow Washing)

A student of shih shui strives to unite his physical and chi or spiritual bodies as one. The system of shih shui consists of three levels: Transfer of the ching (sperm) to the chi; transfer of the chi to the shen (spirit); and cultivate the shen to return to the stage of shu (emptiness). By cultivating this chi into a higher form, one will be in harmony with nature and the universe.

The many health benefits of shih shui include chi organ restoration, organ detoxification and nourishment of the vital organs through chi energy generation and storage. One can cleanse and build the blood, thus causing a reduction of the work the heart must do. Bone marrow will also be revitalized.


The Taoist, Wu Dao Zi of the Tang Dynasty, while adhering to the theories of Huang-Ti’s nine chamber scriptures, blended the static and kinetic self-defense functions of the birds, animals, insects and fish into one system. He established a school of boxing and swordsmanship that comprised the skills of wrestling, striking, seizing and kicking, along-with the skills of controlling chi and preserving the spirit through the cultivation of bone marrow washing. This school was named Little Nine Heaven Wu Tao. This is the origins of Little Nine Heaven still taught today.


Taoist abbot Lushan Doran the 32ndmaster of San Quin temple in Lu Shan. On the Yi Wu-Lu mountain in China. He was that last abbot of the temple. His given name before becoming a Taoist monk is unknown. The temple still stands today but, there are no longer monks there.

Chiao Chang-Hungwas the 33rdgeneration master of Hsiao Chiu Tien Wu Tao (little Nine Heaven). Master Chiao succeed the honorable Taoist abbot Lushan Doran the 32ndmaster of San Quin temple in Lu Shan. On the Yi Wu-Lu mountain in China. Master Chiao was trained in the temple, as a favor to his grandfather who had donated land to the temple. Master Chiao was the only one to train there that was allowed to keep his family name and leave the temple. After leaving the Little Nine Heaven temple in Northeastern China, master Chiao learned Hsing-I from Liu Tsu-Yen, and Bagua from Yang Ju-Lin.

James McNeilwas Chiao Chang-Hung’s first and only American student. He is a 34thgeneration Little Nine Heaven Wu Tao practitioner. Sifu McNeil learned Hsiao Chiu Tien Wu Tao, Hsing-I, and Bagua from Master Chiao. He had many other teachers before becoming master Chiao’s student. He learned Hsing-I from master Hsu Hong-Chi, Shaolin 5 family from master Ralph Shun, and Splashing Hands from master Huamea Lefiti, and Chen style taijiquan from Pan Wing Chow.

Michael Murphy is a 35thgeneration Xiao Jiu Tian Wu Tao, 6thgeneration Baguazhang, and 7th generation Tzu Men Chuan practitioner. He learned these systems along with Shih Shui, Iron Hand and Psychic healing from sifu McNeil. He also practices Hsing-I, Chen style taijiquan, and Cheng Man Ch’ing style taijiquan. He has also learned and/or taught many other systems such as Liu Ho Pa Fa, Judo, Aikijujitsu, and several Kempo systems.

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