Islamic Styles of Kung-Fu

The minority Muslim population of China, known as the Hui people, have practised Kung-Fu for hundreds of years. Although they are not physically different from the majority Han Chinese, Hui people follow the Islamic religion and reject many foodstuffs common in China such as pork, dog and horse. Persecution during the Qing Dynasty particularly promoted the learning of Kung-Fu for self-defence. Over the years Hui martial artists have learned, adapted, as well as started, their own systems of Kung Fu. Many famous historical martial artists have been drawn from their ranks.

Muslim marital arts are as diverse as the rest of Kung-Fu. There are internal styles that were taught to members of the Hui by Taoist priests, fast styles that favour kicking and agility, and stronger, grounded styles too. Just like in the rest of Chinese Kung-Fu, a plethora of martial arts weapons exist in Muslim Kung-Fu. Just like in Shaolin and Wudang Monasteries, Muslim Imams commonly practised Kung-Fu and passed it on to worthy disciples. Muslim Kung-Fu practitioners commonly based their training pattern on Islamic doctrine, such as the letters of the Arabic alphabet or the seven saints of Islam. Many styles of Kung-Fu have been taught in secret over the years to family members or specially selected disciples. However, Muslim martial arts were especially secretive in that they were designed to protect a close-knit, ethnically defined group from outside aggression. As such, many old Muslim styles of Kung-Fu are very rare and some, such as Huihui Shiba Zhou almost disappeared completely. Muslim Kung Fu, like other secretive systems, began to open up to the general public at the beginning of the 20th century. Today several Muslim styles enjoy worldwide popularity.

Styles of Kung-Fu invented and/or propagated by the Muslim Hui people of China include:

  • Tan Tui
  • Baijiquan
  • Zhaquan
  • Qishiquan
  • Tantui
  • Piguaquan
  • Huihui Shiba Zhou