History of Kung Fu
“Wu Shu (Martial Art) Kung Fu (Skills)” is not a style of the Chinese martial arts. It is a general term for the Chinese martial arts.
Within the styles or the systems of the Chinese martial arts, the major systems are the Southern and the Northern arts, and within theses systems there are the difference of the Internal and the External arts. Today, the separations of the Chinese martial art are the Family systems, the Shaolin systems and the Wu dang systems.
The family system is handed down from the past, and it was only taught to the relatives of the family. This system has already fall in with the modern systems of the Chinese martial arts.
The “Shaolin system” is also divided into the Southern and the Northern systems. The Southern system are more prone to use their arms and their solid stable stance, where as the Northern system are more prone to use their legs to kick with, to run and be more mobile in their maneuvers. The differences of the “Internal and External” system are depended on the use of the mind, structure of the body, its muscles and control of output of energy.
The biggest mistake in the practice of the Chinese martial arts are that most practitioners think there are the difference between being hard and being soft. Most Chinese practitioners will tell you that both the “hard and the soft” has to be use in the practice of “Wu Shu Kung Fu”. Usually they will say it is steel wrap cotton or cotton wrap steel.
Since the founding of the Shoalin system by the Indian priest “Da Mor (Bohidarma)” in the fifth century A. D. And the popular rise of the system during the Ching dynasty (1644 to 1911-ad.) It seems every system wanted to be known as the Shoalin system.
The “Wu Dang” system also known as the “Taoist” system is the newer system of the Chinese martial arts. Regardless of what system it is, the main thought of all systems is to gain good health and good skills of using the body and its limbs to defend off attacks whenever it happens.
To the Chinese, the martial arts systems usually comes from three sources; One, it is handed down from generation to generations. Two, it is taught by a spirit in their dreams. And three, it is copying the animals and birds and insects on how they fight.
Since the beginning of time, the human race had to struggle to get by, and fighting has been the differences of surviving or being terminated. The importance of posture, balance and co-ordination are the emphasis throughout the training of all of the Chinese martial art.
The philosophies of the Chinese martial arts are like the races of people in China, there are too many different ones. Each system has their own way of doing things. But regardless of the differences, the good thing is that it still takes the body and its limbs and the mind to do it in. Therefore, most of the Chinese martial arts are all related in movements.
The Chinese martial arts in America today were all brought to America by the Chinese that came over. In the pass eighteen century, most of the Chinese that came from China were from the Southern part of China. And the Chinese Martial Arts that they brought over were mostly that of the Southern Shaolin systems. Not until after the second world war in the nineteen forties, did the Northern Shaolin systems was introduce into the United states.
The popularity of a system of the Chinese martial art today is usually from the people that contribute to the advertising of the art. The writing of books and the videos that are being sold on the open market today.
The Chinese art of war, by Sun tee, is the book that most practitioner of the Chinese Martial arts would follow as their mentor. The book of changes “I Ching” is the other book that helps in the understanding of Chinese culture. The “Tao Te Ching” of eighty one poems also helps in the understanding of the Chinese culture.
In every systems of the Chinese Martial arts, the emphasis is to root one self into being part of the ground, and to be able to move quickly without losing the stability of the roots. Unfortunately, most practitioners of the Chinese martial arts today, usually sacrifice the rooting stability and go for the more flowery movements of the day, and move on without ever gaining the structure that is the make up of The Chinese martial arts.
The old saying of the Chinese regarding the ones, that do follow the trend of more is better, they called them “Far Kuen sow toi (flowery fist and brocaded legs).” Which is the term we never hear anymore.