Saturday, December 13, 2008

What’s Chinese Kungfu?

Have you ever watched movies about Chinese Kungfu? Do you know Bruce Lee, Jet Li or Jackie Chan, all famous Chinese film stars adept in Kung Fu? Wow, how magic and terrific! Anyone who has seen classical Chinese Kung Fu movies will be deeply impressed by the Chinese Kung Fu. Today we'll come to talk about this topic.

Chinese Kungfu, also known as Wu Shu or Chinese martial arts, becomes a precious element of China's cultural heritage, winnig its name all around the world for its broad and deep meanings. Actually, it is a traditional Chinese physical activity with thousands of years of history. According to some historical records and antique discoveries, it can be dated back even to prehistoric times. In order to survive the extremely hostile environment, primitive Chinese ancestors learned some primary means of attack and defence such as leaping, tumbling and kicking. Moreover, they generally knew how to fight with weapons made from stones and wood or bare-hand fighting. This is considered to be the origin of martial arts.

The movements in Chinese Kungfu include kicking, boxing, wresting and seizing, which are performed by rules. Sects of Kungfu are various, such as Shaolin, Wudang, E-mei, Kunlun, Kongtong. Generally speaking, Shaolin Sect and Wudang Sect are the two most famous sects. As the old Chinese saying goes 'In the north, Shaolin Kungfu is primarily recommended. While in the south, Wudang Kungfu is especially valued.'

Shaolin Kungfu is considered to be the authentic Chinese kungfu. Originally, Shaolin Kungfu was developed from the Shaolin Temple, in the region of MT Songshan (click here to get information in our former article). Still having monks living and exercising Kungfu, a travel to the temple will give you a better understanding of Chinese Kungfu. While cultivating in the thick forest of the high mountains, monks created a set of body-building exercises by learning the postures of flying, jumping and running from birds, beasts and fish. Gradually, these body-building exercises developed into a sort of boxing through long practice and improvement, which is generally called 'Shaolin boxing'.

Wudang Kungfu is greatly related to the Chinese native religion - Taoism. It is said that Zhang Sanfeng, a Taoist who lived in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) created Wudang martial arts. The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) saw the formal popularity of Wudang Kungfu. In order to promote Wudang Taoism all over China, Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty assembled 300,000 civilian workers to build 33 Taoist complexes in Mt. Wudang. It took them 13 years to finish the whole construction. Wudang Kungfu emphasizes the strengthening of bones and muscles and internal cultivation, and encourages the use of softness to conquer the unyielding. It doesn't advocate attack but at the same time it is hard to defeat.

Although developed from fighting and conquering of the opponent, Chinese Kungfu has progressed to the conquering of the self. Even at the Shaolin Temple, Kung Fu is only part of the teaching, other Buddhist teachings there are considered of great importance. The basic spirit of Kungfu is to value martial arts while at the same time upholding virtue, which has been advocated by Kungfu performers from generation to generation. Today many people practice Wushu to pursue health, defense skills, mental discipline, entertainment and competition.

Want to learn Chinese Kungfu? Searching from internet, you will find a lot of schools both in China and other countries. But I have to tell you that the road to Kung Fu is lonely, tough and never ending. Kungfu, literally meaning "achievement through great effort", which is an appropriate description of what it takes to learn. The Kung Fu student is therefore expected to put in considerable hard work to condition the body, and build up endurance, stamina and a strong will to succeed. Motivation and self-discipline are essential attributes for the student's "achievement through great effort".

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