Kung Fu is a popular term that is often associated with Chinese martial arts. But do you know that it has a different meaning in Chinese? It is a general term for any skill acquired and developed through diligence, hard work and continuous training. Wushu is the more appropriate term for the Chinese martial arts. It means the art in fighting. However, in the twentieth century as the Chinese martial arts became popular in many countries, it was popularly called as Kung Fu.
Kung Fu or Wushu started in the ancient times way back more than three thousand years in China when the art of hand-to-hand fighting was developed. This personal combat involves techniques like kicking, punching, throwing, controlling, pressure points attacks, and so on. Kung Fu training improves physical strength, health, will power and discipline. During the increased need to defend and survive against foreign invaders, Kung Fu was taught generally to fight with or without weapons.
Kung Fu training has played a vital role throughout Chinese history, especially when China rose to power. Their fighters or soldiers were selected through a martial arts contest and got promoted through the competition. Ancient techniques of empty hand-to-weapon combat was first put down during the Han Dynasty around 206 CE and schools for martial arts began around 264 to 581 CE.
Subsequently, various practical Kung Fu training emerged which included the use of weapons in fighting. There are patterned or choreographed trainings for students to gain understanding on how to attack and defend themselves. Ancient trainings also encouraged students for street fights to do the techniques in actual combat. Even so numerous ancient Chinese weapons were available, in Kung Fu there are limited commonly used weapons. These weapons are usually a straight sword, broadsword, staff, spear, dual swords, double straight sword, double hook sword, double ended spear, k-wan sword, nine section whip, rope, chained hammer, 3-section staff, daggers and etc.
Meditation is also considered as the most essential part of Kung Fu training. As this helps the individual to focus, for mental clarity and discipline on when to act during combat.
Originally, Kung Fu is exclusively taught only in China. However, by the end of the Chinese Civil War, when the People’s Republic of China was founded, Kung Fu also became popular to other countries. Training of Chinese martial arts was discouraged in the country to support with Maoist doctrine. As a result, several well-known Kung Fu masters traveled out from China and taught to other ethnic groups.
As Kung Fu training and knowledge spread, over a hundred Kung Fu styles and techniques were introduced by the greatest fighters called masters. These masters have enhanced the harmony of the martial arts with their own ability of fighting for efficiency. Some popular kung fu styles are Hung Gar, Northern Shsaolin, Tajiquan, Xing Yi, Bagua, Lion Dance, Jeet Kune Do and so on.
Nowadays, Kung Fu is considered as a sport. Anyone who engages in Kung Fu training needs sufficient nutrition and dedication for its rigorous, delicate and complex pattern of attack and defense.