What is Kung-Fu

Kung-Fu is an ancient system of Chinese martial arts, dedicated to manipulating the mind and body, in order to achieve an elevated state of physical ability and spiritual peace. A Kung-Fu student performs physical exercises which strengthen his body, as well as learning about bare-hand and weapon fighting systems, so he can beat opponents in combat. He will also learn about Taoist, Buddhist or Muslim philosophy (depending on the style), so that he will always be able to seek an avenue other than direct conflict.

Wushu is the term used to describe the modernised, sportive branch of Kung-Fu. It is a modern form of the ancient system and is practised primarily for competition. It will be an official Olympic event in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. It can be likened to a form of gymnastics, competed in terms of physical skill and artistry. However, unlike gymnastics, Wushu does not use a variety of apparatus. Instead, separate events featuring different styles of Kung-Fu are demonstrated: hard and soft, fast and slow and moves incorporating various Kung-Fu weapons.

The rich and long history of Kung-Fu makes it distinct from all the other Asian martial arts. Many other martial arts, such as Karate, Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, Taekwondo and Taekkyon can trace their roots and original influence back to Chinese Kung-Fu.

The Meaning of Kung-Fu

Literally translated, the word Kung-Fu means hard task. One can easily understand this translation, since historically, a traditional Kung-Fu student had to study self-defence, Chinese medicine, music, painting, calligraphy, poetry and philosophy. In China, the word Kung-Fu can be used more generally, to describe someone who has a good working ethic and is skilled at a particular activity. For example, a piano player may be said to have good Kung-Fu. However, in the 20th century, Kung-Fu became internationally recognised as an umbrella term for all Chinese martial arts. The term can also be spelt in different ways, such as Gong-Fu, Gungfu or Gongfu.