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KUNG FU CENTER
MAIN • WARRIOR • BUCKHEAD KUNG FU CENTER • What is Kung Fu / Gen. Hist.
What Is Kung Fu?
"Kung Fu" is used as a generic term for the Chinese Martial Arts in the Western World. The words "Kung Fu" actuall mean "Skill Achieved Through Hard Work" and can apply equally to a skilled Martial Artist, Chef or even to a Painter. While the term "Wushu" literally means "Martial (or Military) Arts," it is easily confused with the more modern and contemporary Wushu, which is the performance oriented non-traditional art and competitive sport -- compiled originally by the Communist Chinese Govt. Contemporary Wushu is a beautiful and dynamic art that does take in many of its techniques from Shaolin, and other styles, but it differs greatly from the traditional schools of Kung Fu, which focus their studies on self defense, health, philosophy, and overall improvement of the person.
The traditional Kung Fu systems are loosely classified as Internal and External; Northern and Southern. Northern Shaolin began in the Shaolin (Little Forest) temple on the Song Shan Mountain, which is located in Honan Province of China. The temple was established during the Northern Wei Dynasty (495 A.D.E.) by the Buddhist Monk, Ba-Tuo. The fighting art that developed is an external style that began as a method for the Chan (Zen) Buddhist monks to counter-act the physical deterioration caused by prolonged sedentary meditation. Self-Defense became emphasized as the monks continually had to defend themselves and their temple from bandits, warring clans, and often various factions of the Imperial Government. The Shaolin Temple was also a sanctuary for rebels and persecuted groups over the centuries. This kept a fresh supply of ideas and techniques flowing through the monastery and led to the adaptation of Taoist, Chinese Moslem, Family styles, and other styles into the Shaolin system.
At their zenith, the Shaolin monks were revered throughout China and theri martial prowess was second to none. The temple was at its height of popularity and influence during the Sung (960-1279 A.D.) and Ming (13681644 A.D.) Dynasties, when the monks were highly sought after by royalty as body-guards and military experts. During the Ching (1644-1912 A.D.) Dynasty, however, the Shaolin temple's power began to wane in the face of stern opposition from the foreighn Manchu Dynasty and the eventual arrival of the firearm in China. The temple received its final and most thorough burning during Mao's Cultural Revolution, scattering the remaining monks across Asia, and eventually the world. Through these monks and the people who trained at the temple in the 1920's and 30's, the unique Shaolin Martial Arts were kept alive and introduced to the modern world.
& A General History