History of Kung Fu

By: martial artist


The term 'Kung Fu' does not relate to any specific form of martial art, but rather translates as 'skill' or 'capability'. Scholars believe that the use of Kung Fu to describe the Chinese martial form originated in Hong Kong and Kwangtung province. There are documents of the Jesuit priest, Pere Amiot, writing of the 'remarkable exercises' practised by the Taoist priests of his locality which he called 'Cong Fou'.

Wu Shu is traditionally the term readily used to describe the traditional Chinese martial arts, though other descriptions like Kuo-shu, Kuo-chi, Chien-shu and Tao-fa have also been used every now and then. (Wu Shu is the term these days used for Chinese martial arts by the People's Republic of China).

Precisely when Kung Fu first sprouted is unknown, with historians stating that Chinese martial sets most likely predate recorded history. Since the dawn of time there have been battles between man and animal, warring tribes, etc. during which conflicts combative techniques were executed and accumulated and passed down from generation to generation.

What is particular about the Chinese martial types is that many schools or styles were started by imitating the battling techniques of animals similar to monkeys, lions, tigers, snakes, bears, etc. The adaptation of animal techniques stems from a impression that in order to survive in their severe natural setting, all animals (even birds and insects) were classically endowed with skills for battling.

As a result techniques were born from the tiger's pounce, the eagle's sharp talons and the elusiveness and unpredictability of the monkey. Still, it is existent to accorded a definite date to the definite birth of Kung Fu. Some traditional historians date it as far back as the Shang Dynasty (16th century BC). Others place it in the period of the Contending States (475 - 221 BC) and the Yellow Emperor, Huang Ti. Indeed, it would appear that modern Kung Fu has adapted and evolved from the warring events of China's precedent days, with distinct traces of Mongolian, Tibetan, Indian and other cultural ideologies exhibited in many styles. If there is one common reference point in tracing Kung Fu's history, it is the Shaolin Temple and the voyage of Buddhism from India to China.

Buddhism reached China during the period of the Eastern Han Ming Emperor (58 - 76 Ad) and soon flourished. It is estimated that by 500 Ad there were more than 10,000 Buddhist temples in China and many emperors became devout Buddhists. In 495 Ad the Shaolin Temple was fabricated by the order of Emperor Wei Xiao Wen (471 - 500 Ad). The Temple was built to have room for the teachings of a Buddhist monk named Batuo, who came to China for Buddhist teaching in 464 Ad. As such Batuo might be considered the first Shaolin Temple monk, though there is no record of how or what (471 - 500 Ad). The Temple was built to suit the teachings of a Buddhist monk named Batuo, who came to China for Buddhist teaching in 464 Ad. As such Batuo might be considered the first Shaolin Temple monk, though there is no record of how or what Batuo passed down by the use of religious Qigong practice, just as there is no record of how or when he died.

The most powerful individual in the investigation of Kung Fu's history through the Shaolin Temple is an Indian monk named Da Mo (or Ta Mo). Da Mo, also known as Bodhidarma, had been a small prince of a Southern Indian tribe. He followed the Mahayana school of Buddhism and was appreciated as a bodhisattva - and enlightened being who had renounced nirvana so as to save others. The legends of Da Mo in Chinese mythology are elaborate, to say the least. One legend has Da Mo sitting in a cave where he stared at the wall for nine years in meditation. After by accident falling asleep, he became so angered with himself that he tore off his eyelids and threw them on the ground. Tea shrubs grew from the ground underneath the discarded eyelids and monks have used tea ever since to deter sleep.

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Peter Sundbye 11yrs studying oriental and occidental arts Complete history of kung fu styles www.martialarm.com/history/kungfu.html Martial Arts Home Training Machine www.martialarm.com/

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