Kung Fu is a western term used to describe Chinese Martial Arts. Traditional martial arts in China can be traced back to the Zhou dynasty, which occurred in 12th century BC. According to Chinese legend, the Yellow Emperor, introduced and popularized the earliest forms of Kung Fu,or Chinese Martial arts, for war tactics, as this emperor was a military general.
Kung Fu and the description of many physical, spiritual and mental techniques found themselves in print with the introduction of The Art of War written by Sun Tzu - and two centuries later the Tao Te Ching credited to Lao Zi. These books described many different values that are applicable to the Chinese Martial Arts system. Practitioners also have a large choice of schools around the world to choose from.
While many styles of Kung Fu are founded upon the same beliefs, there are variations of each style in terms of principles and techniques. A lot of the styles incorporate techniques from animals as well as Chinese philosophies. Take for instance southern style, or monkey style, in comparison to Northern style, or sword style. Northern styles emphasize the fluidity of the body and fast movements, while southern style employs hand techniques and footwork.
Kung fu training is quite extensive. All parts of a practitioner’s body and mind experience a thorough work-out. There are different techniques that require deep meditation, special stances and forms of posture, joint rotations and stretching, forms, basic stages, training of weapons, sparring, and the use of qi, often referred to as “chi.” Chi refers to the idea of flowing energy and in traditional Chinese culture, this energy is inherent in everything.
Kung fu has left its birth place and has been openly embraced by popular culture in the United States. Nowadays, many films, books, and musical artists make references to Chinese martial arts. There is an entire cinema genre called “martial arts film,” which emerged through Bruce Lee and gained in popularity in the West. Other notable iconic figures in the culture surrounding martial arts are Jet Li as well as Jackie Chan. Kung Fu is not only a big part of Chinese culture in terms of fighting techniques and self defense, but also across the world.