Hua Quan (simplified Chinese: 华拳; traditional Chinese: 華拳) is a style of Long Fist Kung Fu (Changquan) which is believed to have originated in the Former Song Dynasty (420-479 AD) around the Hua Shan (Hua Mountain) area of Shanxi Province. There are written legends from the Kaiyuan reign (713-741 AD) of the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD) about a Mount Hua knight named Cai Mao, who was famous for his prowess in combat and swordplay. Apparently Cai Mao had killed an enemy, a noble of the Chang'an family, and had to go into hiding deep within Hua Mountain to escape the family's wrath.
400 years later, Cai's descendants, Cai Tai and Cai Gang of Jining were reported using the Hua Quan style in public competetions. It is because of this historical record that many credit these 2 brothers with preserving the art. However, it was Cai Wanzhi of Jining during the reign of Jaiqing during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) who is credited with the finishing touches on Hua Quan by writing the book The Secrets of Huaquan; the "finishing touches" could just be that he wrote the book, nobody can say for sure. Cai Wanzhi had based the book on the traditional philosophy of combining the "three pure essences", or treasures, of Spirit (Shen),Inner Energy (Chi), and Ego (Jing, or essence). Therefore, this specific style of Kung Fu is sometimes referred to as "Kung Fu of Essence." It is also known as Glorious/Marvelous Boxing, China Fist, or "The Fist of Hua Mountain." (Hua, meaning Glorious, is also synonymous for the word China/Chinese). Hua Quan is considered to be one of the five major styles of Long Fist ("Chang Quan")Kung Fu. It may be important to note that due to its close pronunciation and translation, there is a different style of Hua Quan Kung Fu meaning "Flower Fist." ("Meihuaquan").
Hua Quan is an old style with a vast repertoire of techniques and forms. It is a complete Kung Fu system unto itself. There are traditionally 48 sets to master in the system, including core forms, the roads, sparring sets, locking sets, weapons sets (both long and short weapons) and special training. As the style spread throughout the region, it became named after its place of origin- the Hua Shan area around Shanxi Province. The old saying was that if you knew the complete system of Hua Quan you could "go anywhere under heaven."
In both classical and contemporary works of literary fiction and cinema (most notably Wuxia stories), Hua Quan is renowned for its legendary swordplay skill. Indeed, legend has it that there were traditionally two sects within the Hua Mountain monastaries, one being masters of Neidan, aka Internal Alchemy (Qigong/Neigong/Tao Yin exercises) the other being renowned sword masters. It is also known that Zhang San-feng, the great Taoist sage and patriarch of TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan), studied at the monasteries of Hua Shan after his time at Shaolin in Song Shan and before retiring to Wudang Shan. The lesser-known internal martial-art style of Liu He Ba Fa was also developed on Hua Shan by the Taoist sage Chen Tuan (871-989) during the Song Dynasty (960-1280 AD.) It is important to note that the Hua Shan area was an important place for self-cultivation and martial arts development.
Hua Quan is characterized by its smooth, well-connected movements. Its techniques are executed "like a fast burst of wind" and its stances are "as rooted as the pine tree" (from the 12 "patterns" of hua quan.) Hua Quan practitioners breath deeply to spread air flows throughout the body, and the Hua Quan practicioner develops external/internal strength and energy for fighting, in particular cun jing (inch energy). Its footwork and hand technique are based on the Taoist philosophy of yin and yang. Hua Quan is considered a Traditional Northern Kung Fu style, and is a perfect example of a "classical" long-arm style, although there is no shortage of mid-close range techniques. Hua Quan is also said to have the energies of 5 animals, although different from the "Shaolin 5 Animals" System. The energies of the Hua Quan 5 Animals is- Ape, Tiger, Dragon, Leopard, and Eagle.
In the present day, Hua Quan is one of the main constituents of the modern "Changquan" (longfist) routines in contemporary Wushu (the chinese "pinyin" for martial art), in large part due to the efforts of one of the very few remaining present-day Hua Quan Grandmasters Cai Longyun (aka "the Big Dragon with the Magic Fists", son of Great Grandmaster Cai Guigin) when he wrote manuals on the 1st 4 roads and 2 of the sparring sets of the Hua Quan KungFu system (which are considered to be advanced, not beginner, forms), and collaborated with the Chinese Wushu Committee in the late 1950's in creating beginner, intermediate, and advanced Wushu basics and curriculums.
Much of Hua Quan has been lost, absorbed, or modified by other systems and masters throughout the centuries, making it a rare style. However, there are a handful of Hua masters through-out the world who have more or less preserved the style (all 48 sets), whose lineage can usually be traced back to Great Grandmaster Cai Guigin, the great Hua Quan grandmaster during the turn of the 20th century, and father of Grandmaster Cai Longyun.
Hua Quan is a historical style, a classic Kung Fu style which is beautiful in appearance and effective in combat. The old Hua Quan manual states "practice boxing as if a boat floating on water; running along smoothly for a thousand miles, avoiding the barbaric style of practising martial arts which leads to disorders of the body and mind."
Reference = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huaquan