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Kung Fu … the Chinese Art of Personal Combat

Updated on March 6, 2012

Kung Fu Kick

by richardmasoner
by richardmasoner

Kung Fu … the Chinese Art of Personal Combat

Chinese Martial Arts, which include the Kung Fu fighting style, dates back more than 4,000 years to the ancient Xia Dynasty. In that long ago time, when armies and individuals fought hand-to-hand (there was no gunpowder, no weaponry that could stop an enemy from a distance), it became necessary to learn how to defend oneself in close combat. In most cases, it meant the difference between life and death.

The fact is close combat occurred in every battle even though weapons of the day may have included early forms of bows and arrows, spears, catapults and deadly throwing devices. Soldiers and ordinary citizens found it essential to involve themselves in the quest for knowledge of the Martial Arts.

Kung Fu

Kung Fu Origin

Originally introduced as a way to learn self defense … for hunting purposes … and, of course, for use in the military, the “manly art” which included Kung Fu was known by the Chinese name of Wushu. In the very beginning, there was no one specific or distinct fighting style. There were, in fact, many styles.

Importantly, these fighting styles, while initially crude, were developed and improved over many centuries. Today, all of those fighting styles, including Kung Fu, are clearly defined. And there are many variations for each individual fighting style.

However, today’s styles are definitely the result of the evolutionary process that has brought Chinese Martial Arts to this place and time. As it evolved and changed, the various fighting styles used by soldiers and others were given designations or classifications. These classifications were directly related to common themes such as “families” … “sects” … and “schools.”

Were there significant differences between the many styles? It’s probably fair to say that the differences were not significant, but were, instead, minor “tweaks” that could be attributed to an individual, or individuals, who created the change.

Peng Lai Kung Fu

by mK B.
by mK B.

Kung Fu Tricks

Not Just Combat

It’s worth noting that Chinese Martial Arts is not just about combat and fighting. There is almost a spiritual component that plays an important role in this long-evolving form of self-defense. For example: some of the themes mentioned earlier are best represented by physical exercises that mimic the movements of specific animals.

In other cases, a training method may have been inspired by Chinese philosophy, myths and legends. It’s a fact, of course, that philosophy figures prominently in just about every aspect of Chinese culture. It is certainly a key factor in the development of the Martial Arts.

And while Chinese Martial Arts have been in use for thousands of years, it is only recently that the rest of the world has discovered this ancient fighting method.

Shaolin Kung Fu

by Paul  Li
by Paul Li

How – And Why – Kung Fu Has Become a Worldwide Phenomenon

Everyone knows that Kung Fu is a famous Oriental or Chinese fighting style. But, as recently as fifty years ago, very few, if any, Americans had ever heard of it. The same can probably be said for the people of Western Europe. The name Kung Fu (or Wushu) and the fighting style it represented were virtually unknown outside of China.

The development and growth of the Hong Kong film industry, dating back to the 1960s, and the creation by that film industry of a whole new genre – Kung Fu movies – lit a spark that is still smoldering today. Chinese actors appeared in movies that were shown in American theaters and, seemingly overnight, legions of new fans were practicing Kung Fu movements and attending Martial Arts classes in dojos all across America.

The movies were not very well made, but the action sequences captivated audiences. And then, Chinese-American actor, Bruce Lee, appeared in a movie that featured American actors … superior plot and performances … a Hollywood budget and audiences in America and elsewhere turned that movie into a worldwide hit. Bruce Lee, himself, achieved global fame. And Kung Fu (Wushu) and the Chinese Martial Arts got more attention and acclaim than it had received in the previous 4,000 years.

The popularity remains intact today and even though Bruce Lee died at the very height of his fame, Kung Fu or Chinese Martial Arts movies remain popular with audiences because new stars, like Jackie Chan, have emerged.

Kung Fu 5 Animals Styles

Timeless Kung Fu

The bottom line about Chinese Martial Arts (Wushu), especially the Kung Fu fighting style is that it is timeless and it works. It must be noted that Kung Fu is not meant to be used for offensive purposes. It is strictly a self-defense form of fighting.

And while it has a 4,000 year history, for people in countries such as the United States, Kung Fu is new, fresh and exciting. It figures to be around for years to come. And, because countless thousands of American children study martial Arts every year, it’s likely that its popularity will continue to grow.

As the old rock and roll song proclaimed: “everybody was Kung Fu fighting.” The greater truth is that, in America, everybody is Kung Fu fighting.


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    • profile image

      josue lee chin 5 years ago

      yes I have 25 year and I am training chaolin kung fu since 6 year ago when I was 6 year old I bigan to training and now I a teacher and fighter

    • profile image

      态万方 7 years ago

      I am a Chinese, I take great pride of the culture of my country,BUT, speaking of our martial art, I just DON'T understand why many of you wsetern people like this Chinese Kungfu thing, to me, it's for beauty, good looking movemments, Boxing is so well crafted for fighting that each movement is scientificly designed, and to me, speaking of personal combat, it should be Chines envy the west.

    • Zubyre profile image

      Zubyre Parvez 7 years ago from East London

      Kungfu is interesting, thanks for the compiled info. There's kungfu in other dimensions so there's all kinds of inner meanings to Kungfu. Thanks.

    • captainchris profile image

      captainchris 7 years ago

      Great info!!

      I really enjoyed reading your Hub page!!

      You have done a really good job on it and I can see where this will help a lot of other people!!

      Great work!!

    • XimphOnni profile image

      XimphOnni 7 years ago from Originally from the garden

      Esty I enjoy Karate and Kung Fu as well I believe that its great exercise for the mind and body and possibly the soul as well.

      You can read about Karate here:

    • profile image

      esty 7 years ago

      good i like a good to kungfu or another