What Is Kung Fu?
The term Kung Fu refers to the most popular form of martial arts from China. It is a type of physical exercise, a form of self-defense and a method of personal development. Kung Fu is a general term, which includes many different styles of martial arts, including Eagle Claw, Shadow Fist and Tai Chi.
The styles that emphasis moving the energy throughout body, such as Tai Chi, are described as internal. Those that focus on improving coordination and fitness are labeled as external.
According to legend, the first system of Kung Fu originated over 4000 years ago and was created by the Yellow Emperor Huangdi. The Yellow Emperor was not only a martial artist but was also well versed in traditional Chinese medicine and astrology.
Shaolin Kung Fu
The most popular styles of Kung Fu today are those that have their origins in the Shaolin temple. Shaolin monks practiced Kung Fu for strength and vitality during their quest for enlightenment.
The Shaolin style includes many different variations including the famous five animals system. In China, this is a very popular Kung Fu style, with a reputation for powerful techniques and devastating force when used in a combat situation.
The True Purpose of Kung Fu
It might appear that self-defense is the primary purpose of any martial art, including Kung Fu. However the true goal of practicing Kung Fu is the development of the body, mind and spirit.
Historically in China, there was great value placed on Kung Fu for its ability to teach respect, humbleness, physical discipline, emotional fortitude and morality. It was a very important aspect of the higher educational system.
Kung Fu teaches you to look within yourself so that you can gain greater knowledge and control of your emotions. If you are in danger, then you can act as a warrior, and defend yourself appropriately. However, Kung Fu is primarily a nonviolent art, where you learn to be at peace and to avoid unnecessary confrontations.
The concept of balance is also integrated into the teachings of Kung Fu. Of course you must develop physical balance. This is vital if you are to perform the techniques correctly. However, balance is also achieved by silencing the mind and retaining a calm, clear focus.
Who Should Learn Kung Fu?
Anyone can learn Kung Fu if they have the desire and motivation. Just like learning any kind of martial art, it takes discipline to become proficient.
As you begin your Kung Fu training as an aspiring student it might seem to be a difficult task. But as you learn more kung fu techniques and develop greater self-discipline you will begin to reap the rewards of a consistent practice.
How to Do Kung Fu
The best way to learn Kung Fu is to find a Kung Fu master who can guide you. It is important that you learn kung fu techniques that are suitable for your fitness level.
You also want to find a teacher that emphasizes the development of increased awareness and emotional balance like Lujan Matus. This will allow you to follow the path of Kung Fu to enhance your health and improve your life.
Photos courtesy of S.Laqua, Kevin Poh and Digital Pimp.