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Kung Fu

kung fuMartial Arts have been developing in China for over 4000 years.

The Ancient Egyptians had a stylised form of unarmed fighting recodered in tomb murals as early as 3500BC

The Greek poet Homer (8th Cent) has very detailed descriptions of fighting method, and Plato (428-348 BC) describes a kind of shadow boxing called skiamachia.

Some believe that Alexandra the Great brought Martial arts to China

The Yellow Emperor – Huang Ti believed to be a shaman and the originator of the first recorded Martial Art. So the marriage between Martial Art, Spirituality and Self-realization was born at the outset.

Some legends say it all began when a stern Indian Monk, known as Bodhidharma (or Dot Mor) who came to the Shaolin Temple in 527 AD.

What ever the legends and history books say, I’ll guess no-one will be sure for certain, but the amount of trade China has had with the rest of the world over the last 4000 years, it’s very likely that Chinese Kung Fu have been influenced continuously as much as it has influence other martial arts that have spread out all over the world.

The martial arts aspect was developed through a necessarily for defence as much as anything else and vulnerable villages, temples, all worked on a way to defend themselves. Some became complete systems and have been handed down through family lineage or schools until the present day.

My interpretation is that during long times of peace and more health philosophy naturally developed, hill people had the time and during warring times, much harder fighting styles developed. Ths is probably true for all styles of martial arts around the world.

The term ‘Gung Fu’, or ‘Kung Fu’ was created by Chinese who migrated to California for the 1800’s Gold Rush and the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Seperately Kung means energy, and fu mean time. Kung Fu (or Gung Fu, in Cantonese) can be interpreted to mean ‘Hard Work’, ‘task’ or ‘always learning’. So this phrase can also be applied to other skills such as music, and art. The more common terms in China are ‘Wu Shu’ meaning Martial Art, or ‘Chuan Fa’ meaning fist fighting. Sometimes the term Wu Kung is used which transaltes as Martial Kung Fu.

References and Sources of this Kung Fu article:


Liu He Ba Fa

Translating literally as ‘Six Harmonies Eight Methods‘, Liu He Ba Fa is an internally-focussed martial art and is also referred to as ‘Water Boxing’. One of its intentions is for the practitioner to move as smoothly as water flows – embodying the very nature of water: soft one second and thunderously powerful the next. It Read more

Tong Bei Quan

Originating in the 17th century Tong Bei Quan, meaning ‘Spreading Power from the Back Boxing’, as Tong means ‘through’, Bei means ‘back’ and Quan means ‘fist’, is a school of martial arts popular in northern China. Many of it’s power and techniques come from the back, through the shoulders, through the arms, and finally from Read more


Piguaquan meaning “chop-hanging fist” in Mandarin, uses a number of sweeping actions to generate speed through the hips and arms to produce powerful strikes. Also known as Piguazhang “chop-hanging palm” due to its emphasis on palm techniques, is often taught alongside Bajiquan, “eight extremes fist” which is a style of Wushu that features explosive, long-range Read more

Nam Pai Chuan

Nam Pai Chuan is a hybrid Shaolin Kung Fu style that combines elements of Judo, Wado Ryu and Tae Kwon Do. The name translates as “northern southern Fist” in Cantonese, because of its combination of northern and southern Chinese hand techniques, with its origin in the central Chinese style called “Fat Gar Kuen”. This style Read more

Nan Quan

Nan Quan, meaning “Southern Fist” in Cantonese, is a popular modern style created during the 1960’s in China’s Guangdong and Fujian provinces. Contemporary Nan Quan features dynamic, athletic movements with very stable, low stances, extensive hand techniques and a vocal articulation called “Fasheng” (“release shout”) which is the predecessor of the Japanese “Kiai” and Korean Read more

Mei Huaquan

Mei Huaquan, meaning “Plum Flower Fist” in Mandarin is thought to have originated in the 17th century in northern China. Practitioners learn fist, hand and foot techniques, which are based around five static training stances. They are also taught eighteen traditional weapons such as the Qiang (Spear), Shuangdao (Double Sabre), Dadao (Alebard) and the Liuxingchui Read more

Luohan Quan

It is believed that monks in the Shaolin Temple created Luohan Quan by copying the facial expressions of the statues of “Arhats” (saints or sages) and developed 18 movements based on those expressions. Arhats, is a general name for all the styles of Chinese martial arts that are named after the Arhats. Luohan style is Read more

Lai Tung Pai

Originally known as “Poon Kuen” or “Encircling Fist”, Lai Tung Pai (sometimes spelled Lai Tong Pai, also known as Panquan), is a martial art of 17th century Chinese origin, coming from the Sil Lum (Mandarin Shaolin) tradition in the Guangdong providence of China. The art was developed, it is thought, by a monk named Chi Read more

Hung Fut

A Buddhist monk named Lei Jo Fune, created this southern Shaolin-based Kung Fu system during the 17th century in the Fujian province of China. Hung Fut is considered to be a hybrid system; its philosophies are a mixture of two martial art systems, the powerful hard style of Hung Gar with the flowing soft style Read more


Huaquan, also know as China-style boxing system, is a style of Long Fist Kung Fu (Changquan). It is believed to have originated in the Former Song Dynasty (420?479 AD) around the Hua Shan (Hua Mountain) area of Shaanxi Province. There are written legends from the Kaiyuan reign (713?741 AD) of the Tang Dynasty (618?906 AD) Read more

Gou Quan

Gou Quan (Dishuquan) meaning ‘Dog Fist’ in Cantonese is a martial arts style indigenous to Fujian province, China. While sharing many similar features to styles like Wuzuquan, Huzunquan, and many others from the same region, this southern style of Chinese boxing has the distinctive feature of specializing in takedowns and grappling while often taking advantage Read more

Fut Gar

Fut Gar or Buddhist Style is a relatively modern Southern style of Kung Fu devised primarily from the combination of Hung Gar and Choi Gar kung fu. This style of kung fu is characterised by its evasive footwork, low kicks, punches, palm strikes, circular blocks and using the opponent’s force against him/her. The words “Fut Read more

Fu Jow Pai

Fu Jow Pai meaning “Tiger Claw System” in Cantonese (Mandarin pinyin: Huzhuapai, literally “Tiger Claw School” or “Tiger Claw Style”) was founded by Wong Bil Hong in the Shaolin Temple in Henan province during 1934. The system was originally named “Hark Fu Moon” (Mandarin pinyin: Heihumen, literally “Black Tiger School”, also “Black Tiger System”), but Read more

Five Animals

The Five Animals style is a prevalent form of martial art that is commonly found in southern China. The style includes elements of Tiger, Crane, Leopard, Snake and Dragon. An alternate selection that is also widely used is the crane, the tiger, the monkey, the snake, and the mantis. According to legend the Five Animal Read more

Five Ancestors Fist

During the 13th century a Shaolin monk named Bai Yufeng, combined the five Shaolin styles into one syllabus to develop his own system, known as “Five Ancestors Fist” (Wuzuquan or Ngo-cho Kun). This Southern Chinese martial art uses: the breathing techniques of Iron body of Bodhidharma the agility and footwork of Monkey the hand techniques Read more

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