Northern Styles of Kung-Fu

Northern styles of Kung-Fu, ie styles originating in areas north of the Yangtze River, are particularly noted for their advanced physicality. Explosive movements such as high kicks, jumping kicks and aerial acrobatic movements really set Northern Styles apart from their Southern counterparts. This classification, while generally accurate, does have exceptions. Baijiquan, for example, is a Northern Style but it features few kicks, concentrating on attacks with the upper body instead. Northern styles tend to focus on low stances where repeated, lengthy practice opens the hips and strengthens the legs.

Northern China’s mountainous terrain and the strength it endowed in its inhabitants’ legs, is cited by some, as the reason for Northern style’s focus on jumping and kicking. Indeed this is the same reason sometimes given for Taekwondo’s emphasis on the same and Northern Kung-Fu’s influence can be seen in Northern Korean Martial Arts, such as Taekkyon. Other theories emphasise the Northern Chinese’s natural height in comparison to Southerners or the fact that horse-rider dismounting kicks were of particular use in defeating Mongolian horsemen.

Famous Northern Styles of Kung Fu include:

  • Changquan (Northern Longfist).
  • Tai Chi Chuan (Original Chen Style).
  • Northern Praying Mantis.
  • Baijiquan.