Chinese Kung Fu
The question has been posed that if "Chinese kung fu" is a term that has entered both the English and Chinese vocabularies only relatively recently, why does one have to begin a discussion of Chinese kung fu with ancient Chinese history? In fact, however, the "Chinese kung fu" of today includes a combination of the martial arts, techniques and traning, and various methods of health maintenance practiced by the Chinese people from ancient times up to the present. It is what the Chinese usually refer to as their "national martial arts."
According to statistics, there are over 100 different styles of Chinese boxing alone. "Weaponry" includes nine kinds of long weapons and nine short, such as knives, spears, swords, and clubs, which together constitute what is called the "Eighteen Types of Martial Arts." Each style of boxing and weapon-wielding of "Chinese kung fu" has its own special sequences and movements backed up by comprehensive and profound theories and techniques.
In sports such as field and track, ball sports, weightlifting, and boxing, and athlete typically has to retire from full participation in his 30s, due to failing physical vigor. He often will have sustained injuries he was not aware of that effect his health in middle age and older, because of overexertion when young. In Chinese kung fu, however, a distinction is made between "external" and "internal" kung fu. It is said that "In external kung fu, you exercise your tendons, bones, and skin; in internal king fu, you train your spirit, your ch'i, and your mind." In addition to training to achieve a strong body and nimble limbs, there is also an "internal" training to adjust body and mind, strengthen internal organs, and increase circulation of one's ch'i, or flow firmness to softness, the older one gets, the more adept one becomes at kung fu. And the higher one's level of achievemnet in kung fu, the better one is at maintaining good health and living a long, active life.
"Chinese kung fu," like written Chinese characters, can be pictographic. In the Shaolin *** style of kung fu, for example, there are dragon, tiger, panther, snake, and crane styles of boxing. The great physician Hua To *** of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 A.D.) created a martial arts style mimcking interactions among a tiger, deer, ape, bear, and bird. Such styles imitate the special characteristics and the attack and defense techniques of different animals, and incorporate them into boxing movements. There are also boxing "scores," which, for example, describe the handling of weapons and equipment. These scores, which employ incantations with rhyme, rhythms, and music, have become a living part of modern culture in the form of stage art.
There is an endless variety of styles of "Chinese kung fu," but they can be roughly divided into the northern and southern styles, and the internal and external styles. Some of the more famous styles include Shaolin (from the name of the temple in Honan where it was developed), tai-chi-chuan *** ("great-limit boxing"), Hsing-i *** ("forming an idea"), Eight Trigrams ***, Yung-ch'un *** ("singing of spring"), Tantric, and Arhat.
There is a saying in Chinese that the origins of all kung fu styles can be traced back to Shaolin Temple. Shaolin kung fu is divided into the northern and southern styles. The five main branches of the northern style are the Cha ***, Hua ***, Hung ***, Pao ***, and T'an *** schools, which have been popular in China for centuries. Included in the southern style are the complementary dragon, tiger, panther, snake, and crane boxing, and the Hung ***, Liu ***, Ts'ai ***, Li ***, and Mo *** schools. Other sub-schools of Shaolin boxing are too numerous to mention. The main representative schools of tai-chi-chuan are Ch'en ***, Yang ***, Wu ***, Sun ***, and Wu ***. There are differences between modern and traditional styles, but the principles and content are essentially the same. When one has reached a high level of achievement in tai-chi-chuan, one can theoretically "move a thousand catties by exerting only four taels of force." That is, one will have developed a highly sensitive feel for every stiuation, and be able to easily cope with andy outside attack.
"Chinese kung fu" is taken seriously by both the government and people of the Republic of China. Chinese martial arts are a required unit of every physical education class. The Chinese Culture University has a special martial arts section in their physical education department for training teachers and professionals in the field.
There are numerous private martial arts organizations as well, such as the Martial Arts Association of the Republic of China. Martial arts associations administered by local governments, such as the Taiwan provincial government, and the Taipei and Kaohsiung municipal governments, frequently sponsor activities such as seminars for coaches and referees, training for competitive martial arts matches, and performance competitions.
Internationally, the International Leagure of Chinese Martial Arts, of which the ROC serves as chairman, was founded in 1978. It currently has 23 member countries and areas: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Holland, Greece, Belgium, Austria, Australia, Canada, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong-kong, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Argentina. Many countries are forming their own local chapters. Every two years, member countires take turns holding a world championship competition in Chinese martial arts.
Hung style boxing belongs to the southern school
of Shaolin kung fu.