The Ancient Chinese Art of Kung Fu

Kung Fu

Kung Fu is a general name for all Chinese martial arts. Similarly, it is known as Wushu or Quanfa. Its ultimate aim is perfecting meditation and discovering the inner self. Kung Fu teaches the virtues of combat. Furthermore, it is the basis for Buddhism.


“Kung Fu has existed ever since people started walking on the earth. Did it start with Bodhidharma, Buddha, or Shaolin? No, China has kept it alive. It lives within the heart of every person whether they choose to activate it or not through their lifestyle. It lives in the east and the west. I have been watching many videos on the indigenous fighting abilities of people all around the world. They have a common core to each other. It is Kung Fu. They all live together and breathe together. They are different but they are the same. Everything comes from Kung Fu. It was the beginning. Kung Fu is the way. ” – Logan Smith

Photo by: Thao Le Hoang

History of Kung Fu

Kung Fu is probably one of the longest lasting sports in China. It started when monks had to protect themselves in the 14th and 15th centuries. Kung Fu was an invention necessitated by self-defense. It all began in Shaolin. For that reason, Shaolin Temple is a training ground for Kung Fu today. Also, it is a great tourist attraction. Above all, the monks worship and honour Buddha through meditation. Kung Fu helps to define one’s ethics.

Today, Kung Fu is regarded as a traditional game in China. Visitors flock Kung Fu shows to watch martial artists doing their thing. The Red Theatre in Beijing is the most popular spot to watch a Kung Fu show in China. Top China Travel provides a list of other places you could catch a Kung Fu show in China.

Additionally, many Kung Fu movies have been produced in China by various Kung Fu masters. These movies sell a lot. Some Kung Fu masters include Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Yip Man, and many others. Ranker provides a list of Kung Fu movies you could watch.

How to become a Shaolin disciple (Kung Fu fighter)

Shaolin disciples are monks. These are people who would like to train in Shaolin Kung Fu. Learning Kung Fu takes time, energy and patience. Even more, commitment is key. One must meet certain requirements to become a Shaolin disciple. First of all, one must have attained the age of 18 years and over. Secondly, one must have consent from their parents (or guardian). Thirdly, they should have no pending lawsuits. Finally, they must be free of debt.

When a person joins the Kung Fu training, their heads are shaven clean. This is a show of cleansing and devotion to Buddha. Shaving also indicates that a person has let go of material things.


The art of Kung Fu

Kung Fu entails a variety of styles. Fighters hone their bodies and minds into lethal weapons. One must master hand to hand combat. Kung Fu stances involve keenly observing human muscular physiology and anatomy. Certainly, it also involves great muscular and mental coordination.

Kung Fu styles involve various movements. The bottom line in Kung Fu is: ‘strike your opponent with the speed of lightning and unstoppable power.’ Most of these styles imitate the fighting styles of animals. The commonly practised styles are:

  • normal upright posture
  • dragon style
  • frog style
  • horse riding
  • snake style

In Kung Fu training, flexibility and stability are key. Fighters enhance this through regular hardship and endurance training. It is also boosted through meditation. Monks get into different contorted positions while taking deep breaths and focusing. This helps with acceptance of obstacles and builds resilience and persistence.

There are 72 martial arts learned through Kung Fu. Fighters learn all the basic arts. Basic arts help to bring out the potential in everyone, however, no fighter can manage to learn all the arts. Hence, trainers focus their attention on what a fighter would require.


Kung Fu weaponry

Traditional weapons are used in Kung Fu training. These include:

  • Broadswords
  • Double-edged swords
  • Hook swords
  • Chain whips
  • Sectioned whips
  • Spears
  • Staff/poles
  • 3 sectional staffs
  • Shaolin canes
  • Shaolin daggers
  • Blossom knives

Years of invention and innovation have given rise to a variety of more sophisticated weapons.

Kung Fu fighters should master using a few weapons. On the contrary, mastery of one weapon is enough to fight all other weapons effortlessly. Mastery of weapons aids in memorisation and enhances the speed of a fighter’s moves.

Most noteworthy, focus and concentration in the mastery of weapons are key. One simple mistake could be fatal.

Finally, as you teach English in China, you will come across a good number of Kung Fu fighters. Subsequently, some could even be children from your class. Make time to watch Kung Fu shows. They are as entertaining as they are thrilling. Even more, you could pick a few combat skills from the shows!