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From the history to its definition and its styles, there is absolutely more to learn about Kung Fu than could possibly be discussed here now. It has become popular among movies especially the ones that has Jet Li, Jackie Chan or the Legendary Bruce Lee in the lead role.
Kung Fu means Chinese Martial Arts as borrowed in the English terminology. However, its literal meaning is “wushu”. “Wu” means martial and “shu” means skill or method, thus the term martial arts. This discipline is practiced for physical and spiritual growth and is also used as a method of self defense.
It is believed to have been practiced in China dating 4,000 some years ago. Known to be the earliest form of martial arts, it was created as a form of self defense during combat as conflicts were common between colonies. The man responsible for the introduction of this is an Indian monk known as Bodhidarma. In the Shaolin Monastery, he noticed that the monks usually fall asleep during meditation. Thus, he secluded himself from them and looked for a solution. After nine years of isolation, he was able to create this method which helped the monks develop a stronger mind and body.
As months progressed, it was developed and has been named as Chan. It was during the Tang Dynasty wherein the monks were officially trained to become martial artists so as to protect the wealth and property of the Shaolin Temple.
The training in the monastery then absorbed martial arts skills outside the temple. Then they were able to incorporate them into their training. After a few more studies and developments, they were also able to come up with the five animal styles of martial arts namely: dragon, tiger, leopard, snake, and crane.
The Five Animal Styles
Each animal style has a specific purpose for development.
Dragon – the exercises done for this style is to enrich the spirit and produce flowing movements.
Tiger – it is done primarily to establish stronger bones in the body.
Leopard – just like the animal itself, it is practiced to enhance speed, strength and power.
Snake – it is used to practice correct breathing patterns to be able to develop the inner power and strike the weak spots of the enemy.
Crane -it is exercised to cultivate balance and footwork.
Using these all five of these styles together creates the Chinese martial arts form known as Shaolin Kung Fu which is still practiced in Shaolin monasteries up to this day.
In the modern era, Kung Fu training has been regenerated because of various combinations of techniques which were combined and passed on from one generation to another. However, it has not entirely changed because the traditional ways are still observed up to this day.
Kung Fu elicits numerous learning for a martial artist, as what the Shaolin monks have learned way back. Learning its ways will help you understand how they preserved and took care of its original ways even though it existed thousands of years ago. Moreover, it helps a person develop not only skills in self defense, but also a healthy mind and body.
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