Kung fu (功夫) is seen with a variety of different spellings including gung fu and gong fu. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Chinese was transliterated using the Wade-Giles system, which transposed the Chinese “g” sound with a “k.” Taiwan and Hongkong still use the Wade-Giles system, but the mainland China use pinyin, which has replaced the “k” of the Wade-Giles system with a “g.”
Kung fu means "Chinese martial arts", sometimes referred to by the Mandarin Chinese term wushu (simplified Chinese: 武术; traditional Chinese: 武術; pinyin: wǔshù) and popularly as kung fu (Chinese: 功夫 pinyin: gōngfū), consist of a number of fighting styles that were developed over the centuries. In Chinese, kung fu can be used in contexts completely unrelated to martial arts, and refers colloquially to any individual accomplishment or skill cultivated through long and hard work. In contrast, wushu is a more precise term for general martial activities.
Wǔshù literally means "martial art". It is formed from the two words 武術: 武 (wǔ), meaning, "martial" or "military", and 術 (shù), which translates into "discipline", "skill" or "method."
The term wushu has also become the name for a modern sport involving the performance of adapted Chinese bare-handed and weapons forms (tàolù 套路) judged to a set of contemporary aesthetic criteria for points.
Kung Fu is an open martial art, which means that its styles can be adapted by those who have perfected them. In this way they have developed, over hundreds of years, into a potentially lethal form of self-defence.
Kung fu is very different from western-style boxing. Boxers use punches with long follow through, as they are aiming to knock their opponents over. In kung fu the aim is to cause as much damage as possible without losing balance, so strikes are extremely quick and controlled.
China has a long histories of martial arts tradition that includes hundreds of different styles. It exists common themes to the different styles, which are often classified by "families" (家, jiā), "sects" (派, pai) or "schools" (門, men).
There are styles that imitate movements from animals and others that inspire from various Chinese philosophies, legends andmyths. Some styles put most of their focus into the harnessing of qi, while others concentrate solely on competition and exhibition. Each style offers a different approach to the common problems of self-defense, health and self-cultivation.
Chinese martial arts can be split into various categories to differentiate them: For example, external (外家拳) and internal (内家拳).
Chinese martial arts can also be categorized by location, as in northern (北拳) and southern (南拳) as well, referring to what part of China the styles originated from, separated by the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang); The main perceived difference between northern and southern styles is that the northern styles tend to emphasize fast and powerful kicks, high jumps and generally fluid and rapid movement, while the southern styles focus more on strong arm and hand techniques, and stable, immovable stances and fast footwork. Examples of the northern styles include changquan and xingyiquan. Examples of the southern styles include Bak Mei and Wing Chun.
Chinese martial arts may even be classified according to their province or city, imitative-styles (象形拳), and more. There are distinctive differences in the training between different groups of the Chinese martial arts regardless of the type of classification.
However, few experienced martial artists make a clear distinction between internal and external styles, or subscribe to the idea of northern systems being predominantly kick-based and southern systems relying more heavily on upper-body techniques. Most styles contain both hard and soft elements, regardless of their internal nomenclature. Analyzing the difference in accordance with yin and yang principles, philosophers would assert that the absence of either one would render the practitioner's skills unbalanced or deficient, as yin and yang alone are each only half of a whole. If such differences did once exist, they have since been blurred.
Kung fu and morality
Traditional Chinese schools of martial arts, such as the famed Shaolin monks, often dealt with the study of martial arts not just as a means of self-defense or mental training, but as a system of ethics. Wude (武 德) can be translated as "martial morality" and is constructed from the words "wu" (武), which means martial, and "de" (德), which means morality. Wude (武德) deals with two aspects; "morality of mind" and "morality of deed".
Wude is concerned with two specific types of morality:
Morality of the mind
Morality of mind is meant to cultivate the inner harmony between the emotional mind (Xin, 心) and the wisdom mind (Hui, 慧). The ultimate goal is reaching no extremity (Wuji, 無 極) (closely related to the Taoist concept of wu wei), where both wisdom and emotions are in harmony with each other.This can be split into the following principles:
Morality of deeds
This is concerned with outward social relations: how one treats and allows oneself to be treated by others.
See Wing Chun Kung Fu, Hung Gar Kung Fu, Jeet Kune Do, Praying Mantis
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