What is Kung Fu?
This is one question I get asked time and time again by friends or people just interested in martial arts. To answer the question Kung-Fu is more commonly used as a general term to represent all of Chinese martial arts. It is usually associated with Traditional martial arts, not taught for sport. The phrase Kung-Fu (Gong Fu) I actually translated in my first blog post. The phrase itself translates from Chinese means a disciplined person, or hard work or achievement. This is what I Tell people about Kung-Fu, which barely touches the surface.
This is a simple answer that really doesn’t describe Kung-Fu as a martial art. To describe the martial arts we would have to become more specific in terms of martial styles. And there are many different styles derived from China that look completely different and emphasize different things. You have both military and civilian styles of martial arts. Some are external, internal, hard, soft or a combination of these components.
It all depends on what a person is looking for sometimes but for a beginner who doesn’t know the difference or what to study I don’t think it matters. As long as you have a very good instructor who can teach you to use the art effectively and help give you a strong foundation and understanding of martial arts.
In terms of Chinese martial arts you have styles that focus on throwing and grappling, striking, ground fighting, and Joint-locking. Most styles I have encountered may focus on specific ways of fighting either with striking or grappling but still incorporate striking, elbows and knees, throwing, joint-locking, and various stance work in there arsenal of techniques. Some styles incorporate large amount of stepping and movement while others require one to be more stable and use short stepping and footwork only. All depends on the style.
Popular styles seen on the west are probably Wing Chun, Shaolin, Hung Gar, and Tai Chi Chuan to name a few. When taught properly all are effective but adhere to different principles and types of training. All styles teach basic self-Defense and Discipline. Many Chinese arts will incorporate various breathing and meditative techniques to help calm or control the mind as well as for longevity.
"Perfection is sometimes found in imperfection"