Chinese Kungfu

Chinese Kungfu

The Origins of Chinese Kungfu

People had to hunt for food in primitive societies, so Chinese Kungfu originated. Over time with the development of productivity, people invented weapons. They found the most efficient methods to fight and defend themselves against attacking animals or people and taught these methods to their descendants. Chinese Kungfu was improved continuously during the teaching and learning.

In 495 AD, the then emperor of China built the Shaolin Temple on the Mount Song to home an Indian monk called Batuo. From then on, common people had their own place to learn Chinese Kungfu. There is an old saying “Every kind of Chinese Kungfu originated from the Shaolin Temple”. There might be no modern Kungfu if there were no Shaolin Temple.

The Spirit of Chinese Kungfu

Endurance is the chief spirit of Chinese Kungfu, which means the people who learn Kungfu must try their best to avoid violence, even though their enemies may be much weaker than themselves. Chinese people always think harmony is the highest priority, which is also one of spirits of Buddhism. The Shaolin Temple was built by Buddhist monks, so people who want to learn Kungfu in the Shaolin Temple must accept the Buddhist spirits.

New Kungfu students must learn endurance first by carrying water from the foot of a mountain to the top of a mountain, reciting Buddhist scriptures or even being beaten by their masters. They can never learn fighting until they can face these hardships peacefully.

Bruce Lee and Chinese Kungfu

the kungfu star, bruce leeBruce Lee

Most Westerners began to know and love Chinese Kungfu from Bruce Lee’s movies. It was amazing for them to see Bruce Lee beat his opponents, who looked much taller and stronger than Bruce Lee, after just a few punches.

When Kungfu teachers first went to the Western world, they opened Kungfu classrooms to teach this discipline. However later, more and more international students found it was impossible to learn both the spirit and skills of Kungfu in their own countries, so they went to China.

Where to Learn Kungfu in China

In fact, Kungfu can be seen and shown in almost every park in China. Some parks are free to citizens in morning. Lots of retired people practice Kungfu for healthy reasons in these gardens. This kind of Kungfu is usually slow. The more exciting Kungfu can be found in the places below.

Kungfu Schools in some Chinese Cities

There are Kungfu schools in some Chinese cities, especially in some tourist cities. Students in these schools learn Kungfu to perform for tourists. These schools are also open to tourists, who will watch their students’ Kungfu shows. They also deliver lectures or tell stories about Kungfu to tourists. In a word, the history of Kungfu can be learnt in these schools, but not the skills.

Shaolin Temple

shaolin templeShaolin Temple

There is a North Shaolin Temple and a South Shaolin Temple in China. The North Shaolin Temple, located on the Mount Song, is much more renowned than the South Shaolin Temple. When Chinese people talk about the Shaolin Temple, they usually mean the one on the Mount Song. The South Shaolin Temple is located in Fujian Province, but the exact positon is in dispute. What has been confirmed is that the Kungfu taught in the temple in Fujian Province is the authentic Kungfu of South Shaolin Temple.

In the Shaolin Temple, students have to learn from the basic skills, such as sitting in meditation and the horse stance. Senior monks will judge a candidate’s morals and personality before teaching Kungfu. Only a few candidates can pass the examination. In a word, learning Kungfu in the Shaolin Temple is as difficult as passing the entrance examination of Harvard University. There are only around 20 international students in the Shaolin Temple.

Wudang Mountain

Mount WudangWudang Mountain

Wudang Mountain is a Taoist mountain. It is said that Zhang Sanfeng, who was a martial artist in the end of Song Dynasty (960-1279), created his own style of Kungfu on the Wudang Mountain. The spirit of Wudang Kungfu is to beat opponents with slow and gentle skill. Wudang Kungfu is also good for your health. It is said Zhang Sanfeng died at the age of 125. Perhaps it is possible for a few people nowadays, but it was an incredible feat nearly a thousand years ago.

Tai-Chi Chuan, or Chinese Shadow Boxing, was created by Zhang Safeng and is the most practiced Kungfu in the world. In morning, lots of senior Tai-Chi Chuan students practice it in the park, city square or their houses. It has been proven by scientists that the Tai-Chi Chuan is good for a human being’s respiratory system and blood circulation.
Nowadays there are Kungfu schools, where Tai-Chi Chuan and other Kungfu can be learnt on the Wudang Mountain. People can also just live and learn Kungfu on the mountain without finding a teacher, there are some Wudang Kungfu fans doing it now! They believe Wudang Mountain is the best place to practice Wungdang Kungfu, so they give up their metropolitan lifestyle’s and escape to the mountain.

Tips: The life on the mountain is simple and tough. Please think twice before making this decision.

Weapons for Chinese Kungfu

It is crucial for Kungfu students to know that the endurance is the spirit of Kungfu before they start practicing Kungfu with weapons. Chinese Kungfu is created for peace rather than violence. The popular weapons for Chinese Kungfu include the sword, broadsword, Chinese spear, Shaolin Stick, and the fist.

The Sword

Chinese swordChinese Swords

The Sword is the most elegant weapon in the world of Kungfu. A lot of the most splendid movements of Kungfu are performed with the sword. The Chinese sword is usually light and convenient to carry. A skillful swords man can stop his enemy’s attack without hurting his enemy. Almost every part of a Chinese sword can be used to attack, including the scabbard. In Chinese Kungfu novels, the man with the highest level of Kungfu usually uses the sword as his weapon of choice.

The Broadsword

The Broadsword is much heavier than a sword, so the man who uses a broadsword is usually very strong, but lacks flexibility. When someone slashes a broadsword towards his enemy, it means it is both a real attack and a menace, because there is a terrible sound as it is being waved in the air. This kind of sound can frighten enemies on the battle field. The lack of flexibility can also be a fatal weakness for the man who uses the broadsword, because if he misses the target after the first attack, he cannot change to a defending gesture or deliver another attack quickly. His enemy can attack back before his defense is ready.

The Chinese Spear

The Chinese spear is perhaps the most overbearing of weapons in ancient times. Lots of generals used it as their weapon of choice. It is difficult to learn how to use a Chinese spear, because it is both heavy and long, and there is a blade on one end of the spear. The man who uses a Chinese spear must be both very strong and flexible, otherwise he can be hurt by his own spear. The sharp end is the most dangerous part, needing both power and accuracy to stab targets with the sharp end. The red tassel fastened on the sharp end is an indispensable part of a Chinese spear. When a spear is being waved in the air, the flying red tassel can dazzle and scare enemies.

The Shaolin Stick

The Shaolin Stick, made from wood, is the common weapon used in the Shaolin Temple. The monks have to learn Kungfu with a stick first before they can learn to use other weapons. It is always a bad thing in the Buddhist spirit to badly hurt your enemy. Stick skills can both stop enemy’s attack and avoid hurting the enemy badly. The monks believe their enemy will not strike out after being “taught” by stick skills. The Shaolin stick is usually long and flexible. A monk who uses a stick can swipe several of his opponents in a single wave. Stick attacks also include stabbing, but please remember there is no pointed blade on a stick and your enemy can still attack after being stabbed.

The Fist

Fists are everyone’s weapons. The biggest advantage of fists is they are connected with people’s arms and brain so there is no need to worry about a fatal fall in a fist fight. Meanwhile the biggest weakness of the fists is that they are a part of a person’s body because their owners feel pain when hit by enemy or even when hitting the enemy. Usually, the fists are not described as weapons by most people, however, there are still Chinese boxing masters who only fight with fists. Dodging is the first skill to learn before learning Chinese boxing, because when somebody fights only with his fists, he may have be surrounded by his enemies. They may well be armed with metal weapons, so he must first dodge before looking for a good time to counter-attack.

The Aim of Chinese Kungfu

The aim of Chinese Kungfu is to avoid violence. If you can successfully persuade your enemies by words, never use Kungfu.

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By Ruth Wickham
Chief Editor & Writer