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The Story of Kung Fu

Kung Fu is an ancient Chinese Martial Art, which can claim more than 5000 years of history and is both a system of attack and of defence. It is one of the most complete forms of exercise and is an excellent way to stay in good health and increase vital resources if practiced regularly.

However, Kung Fu isn’t only for fighting, it also has more important aims. The basic principle of this discipline is the health of the mind and body of the person who practices it. For this reason, this type of martial art has been studied to develop the physical powers of the human body, so that good health can be achieved through constant practice. This is why Kung Fu is one of the most complete disciplines and it becomes even more interesting if you think of its important cultural role. This ancient art is an excellent way of approaching the Chinese culture.

The Spirit

Since ancient times man has needed to defend himself to survive. Through the centuries he has studied better methods to reach his aim. Kung Fu originated according to this principle of self defence and continued its search for more invincible methods of attack and defence. This spirit of study has never changed during the centuries; only the way it is done has changed. While, at one time, invincible techniques were studied for bare hand, staff, spear or sabre fighting etc., nowadays the same type of commitment is employed in the development of more powerful nuclear arms and more advanced aeroplanes. It is at this point that it can be seen that the martial arts had reached their highest point of development.

The meaning of the term “Kung Fu”

Many people confuse the word “Kung Fu” with the word “Wushu”, believing they are two different disciplines, while actually they are the same kind of martial art. However, a distinction must be drawn between the two words to make things clearer. The word “Kung Fu”, literally translated, means “Thing”. This is a word that is used a lot in the south of China and comes from the spoken language. This word is used in different circumstances. For example, if you have invited somebody to the cinema you might hear him answer, “Thanks for the invitation but unfortunately I have a lot of kung fu to do!” that is, “I have a lot of things to do”.

The word “Wushu”, on the other hand, correctly translated, means “Martial Arts”. It must be pointed out that with the arrival of Communism in China, the practice of Kung Fu was abolished, but was again proposed by the same Communists in the seventies with the name of “Wushu” with the addition of a few artistic gymnastic exercises, which however, had already been practiced in ancient circuses and theatres; principally the ones in Peking. We can say that by adding these exercises Martial Arts have been made more spectacular, but at the same time, it has created a lot of confusion, because it has damaged the original characteristics of the various styles making the styles of the north, in which kicking and powerful dynamic positions are used, similar to the styles of the south where, instead, punching and static positions are used. For example, you might happen to see jumping and acrobatic kicks in a form of the south which are completely unsuitable for the characteristics of the original style.