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About Kung Fu (Wu Shu)
Kung fu is a popular self defense fighting system that has been effective protective fighting form to learn for any age or gender as well as a good way to keep fit in the mind, body and spirit.
Meditation has traditionally been the cornerstone to any good martial art.
Kung fu (sustained effort/skill) or wu shu (Martial Art) as it is known in China which could date back to as far as the Shang dynasty (16th century BC) with thousands of different styles (see kung fu style tab below) developing over the years and is one of the original Mixed Martial Arts Styles MMA.
Kung fu was first introduced to the west during the Californian gold rush of 1848 were Chinese workers practiced and shared their kung fu styles as part of daily life. In 1863 the use of Chinese labour became more intense due to train tracks being laid right across the USA which bought with it more kung fu. Although kung fu had arrive in America it was a closed door to all but Chinese immigrants or linage until the 1960's when kung fu schools slowly started to open up across the US.
Kung fu can be classified as either northern or southern style kung fu. Southern style is usually known as internal kung fu and the northern style external kung fu, the northern style tends to have linear attacks and retreats using short-hand tactics, employing muscular strength and speed, whilst the southern style kung fu tends to be based on internal strength and timing. The southern kung fu is usually circular in form with short and long hand defense and attacks and sometimes employed intricate footwork.
Shoalin hard northern style kung fu represents an extreme end of the spectrum whilst soft southern style such as tai chi chuan (infinite ultimate fist) represents the other extreme end of the spectrum with many different kung fu styles of varying strengths in-between.
Kung Fu styles
Bak Sing Choy Li Fut:
A combination of Shoalin kung fu and Choy Li Fut, first developed by Tam-Sam during the Ching dynasty (1644-1912). This style employs a lot of sparring, kicking and long arm movements with power coming from the waist and shoulders with simultaneous blocking and punching techniques that focus on being graceful and fluid in movement with a quick dexterous short hand approach.
Southern style kung fu created by Chow Lung who was proficient in Hung gar, Pakua and Shoalin kung fu. In 1915 Chow Lung taught his style to the Chinese army after being officially appointed by General Lee Fook Lam.
Choy Li Fut:
Southern style kung fu that originates from the Shoalin temples. A long distance style employing fast footwork to attack an opponent.
Patterned on the movements of a person who is drunk and who's actions first appear to be wild and out of control, but in fact the complete opposite is true. Many kung fu styles have developed a drunken set and is usually only taught to the most proficient kung fu students.
Phoenix eye kung fu created by Kew Soong in the Hopei province. Fong Ngan practitioners never retreat, instead they move into the fight only moving to the side while counterattacking using leg tripping and leg hooking throws followed up with an explosive killer strike or blow.
Hop Gar (originally known a Lama kung fu) became popular during the Ching dynasty (1644-1912) and was the Manchu Emperor and his guards official martial art. Hop Gar is made up of 12 short and 12 long hand operations, 8 forms consisting of empty hand and weaponry techniques. Footwork is developed through training on a series of wooden stumps, of sometimes various heights driven into the ground.
Southern style kung fu based on the movements of five animals; dragon, snake, tiger, leopard and crane. This style has low stances whilst delivering powerful hand techniques. Modified from Shoalin kung fu by the monk Chi Sim or Fong T'sai or Ng-Mui after escaping government troops to southern China after a campaign by the Emperor to destroy Shoalin interference in politics.
Hsing-I Hsing Yi:
Translated means the "mind form" style, and is a northern style of kung fu based on the five elements of Chinese culture.
AKA pao; narrow stances, clenched fists and fast deceptive movements make up this fast moving style of kung fu.
Known as "six method" kung fu made up of 3 internal and 3 external principles which comes from Hopei province and is a northern style kung fu.
Lui Ho Pa Fa:
"Six harmonies, eight steps" northern style kung fu. Popular in Hong Kong this style uses finger strikes, hand trapping, wrist locking and elbows with the minimum use of the legs, with any kick only aim at the legs of opponent.
Koa Tze created monkey style kung fu in the early 19th century whilst observing monkeys during an 8 year imprisonment. Using terms such as lost monkey, tall monkey, drunken monkey, stone monkey etc. to categorize the monkey forms and teach them to students that best fit their personalty and body type.
Pakua (eight trigram boxing):
One of the 3 internal methods of Chinese boxing (other 2 being hsing-i and tai chi chuan) focusing on displacing the opponent at an odd angle whilst weaving or turning, leg tripping and striking using postures with names such as snake, stork, dragon, hawk, lion, monkey and bear.
Hard northern style of kung fu with rigorous body conditioning emphasizing the use of striking with the palm. Practitioners practice being hit and hitting as part of their training methods.
Malaysian kung fu developed by Nip Chee Fei a Chinese sifu and is a combination of tai chi chuan and northern style Shoalin kung fu. Hand techniques dominate this style with some kicking. During sparring protective gear is worn as practitioners employ full contact kung fu. Wikipedia - Pi Kua
Created by Wong Long in the 17th century and is a blend of monkey style and the movements of a praying mantis. This style uses fierce grasping and clawing attacks, and punching to defend and attack with, stances are strong but flexible.
Praying Mantis (six harmonies style):
Softer than the original seven stars praying mantis style, more circular and smoother in movement employing palm strikes instead of the hooked hand used in the seven stars style.
Praying Mantis (eight steps style):
This modified style by Chiang Hwa Lung at the end of the Ching dynasty (1644-1912) introduced a different style of footwork and employed palm striking instead of a hooked hand used in the original seven stars praying mantis style with an extension to the amount of techniques used.
Praying Mantis (seven stars style):
The original praying mantis system known as the "seven stars style" because of its footwork pattern. Created by Shoalin kung fu master Wang Lang at the end of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), and is a combination of monkey footwork and praying mantis hand forms. The footwork was called "horse-monkey".
San Hwang Poa Chui:
Originating from the 3 kingdoms period (220-280) and means "cannon fist", is also known as hsing kung chuan and is a northern style of kung fu that is still practiced in Beijing.
Chinese wrestling that uses throws, take-downs, strikes, kicks and blocks. Stances tend to be very low and students must learn to fall correctly as take-downs can be very hard, there is no gi to grab hold of but instead students learn to grab arm, legs, shoulder or any other body parts.
There are several forms of of snake kung fu ex. snake boxing - fanged snake boxing and just snake boxing, created by Shoalin monks to imitate the movements of a snake.
Originated in the Shoalin temples tiger kung fu is predominantly a northern style kung fu with different forms ex. White tiger - black fist tiger etc.
Tai Chi Chuan:
Tai chi chuan translated means supreme ultimate fist. Go here to find out more.
A northern kung fu style that employs fighting techniques whilst falling or lying on the ground with a focus on developing kicking and falling proficiency. Seen as a practical kung fu in your armory when usual methods cannot be used.
Developed by Shoalin monks during the Manchu dynasty. Go here to find out more.
Based on the movements of the crane and the ape. White crane style is formed from internal and external methods of training using a combination of long hand and short hand techniques, composed of 24 steps, 10 empty hand forms and 14 weapon forms. Combat consists of pressure point striking and nerve cutting. Footwork is developed from from kung fu set pieces which can incorporate a series of wooden stumps driven into the ground that students practice their forms on. White crane fighting philosophy consists of 4 words: chon (to destroy), sim (to evade) chun (to penetrate) and jeep (to intercept).
Kung Fu weapons
Centipede Hook: Sword that has a hook protruding from its tip
Cern Do: Pair of broadswords about 25 - 30 inches long with a curved blade. One sword is used to defend whilst the other attacks
Chi: Long staff-like weapon with a spear head that has a hook protruding from it
Chien: Double edged sword
Chinese Staff: Was developed by a priest who disliked other weapons for being too violent
Chinese Sword: Double edged bladed sword known in China as the mother of all weapons
Coin Shaped Halberd: Large halberd with a round coin shaped head with openings to catch an enemy's spear or sword
Convenient Shovel (Fang Bian Tsang): Shovel shaped weapon
Copper Hammers: Set of small cudgels with round copper heads at one end
Double Hooking Sword: Primarily use in northern style kung fu this sword has a hooked top with bladed hand guards, also called the tigers head hook sword
Broadsword: Large single curved edge sword
Butterfly knife: Short weapon usually used in pairs and commonly called paired butterfly knives, originated as a butchers cleaver. The top of the knife hilt is curved forward to accommodate flipping the knife round the thumb
Dart Rope: A long rope with a sharp dart attached to the end
Eyebrow Spear: Sickle shaped head spear
Fan: Hidden in the sleeve but can be used for cooling by fanning or killing by slicing, stabbing or cutting
Fay Tian Chi: A weapon combining axe, spear and sword on either a long or short staff
Fingernail Razors: Sharp razors especially created to fit under the fingernails
Flying Claw: A sharp claw-like hand on the end of a chain
Fong Bin Charn: Shaped like a spade but used for either fighting or digging
Fou Tou Ou: Crescent sword with a hook
Ghost Hat Knife Sword: Similar to the nine ring sword but has a very thick back of the blade
Golden Helon Hammer: Cudgel with a large metal ball on one end
Hook Sword: Conventional double sided sword (chien) that has a hooked blade sticking out of one side near the tip
Iron Ruler: A large heavy piece of metal that looks like a ruler to strike down an opponent
Ju I: Short sword also known as the scepter
Justice brush: Set of painting brushes that can also be used as a deadly kung fu weapon
Kwan Toa: Means "Kwan's knife" and is a large broad halbert, sometimes used to build strength in the forearms and wrists
Nine Dragon Trident: Heavy weapon that is about 6 feet long which can entangle a weapon then cut, strike or poke an attacker
Nine Ring Knife: Broad knife with rings attached to its back, the rigs are used to make a noise and for catching an opponents weapon
Nine Section Whip: Practitioners can use 2 whips of 1 whip with a broadsword
Razor Coins: Sharpened circular coin shaped throwing discs
Red Tasseled Spear: A spear with a red tassel near the blade to stop blood dripping down the shaft and confuse the enemy
Rope Dart: A dart on the end of a rope. The rope is swung round to gain momentum then let go to allow the very sharp dart strike its target
San Chiang Liang Ren Tao: A long weapon with 3 pointed double edged sword blades at one end
San Chiang Pang: AKA 3 sectional staff, 3 lengths of wood linked together at the ends
Short Axe: Commonly used in pairs and known as hurricane double axes or tuan-ful. Mostly used in southern China
Shu ke: Javelin style spear
Sleeve Arrow: Small arrows hidden in the sleeve used as a throwing weapon. AKA sui-jian
Sleeve Dart: Razor sharp dart hidden in the sleeve
Spear: Known in China as the king of weapons
Spread the water knife: Semi or circular cutting blade
Staff With Chains: A staff with chains at each end
Steel Whip: This weapon can have 3, 5, 7 or nine links which has a dart at one end
Thorn Staff: Sword shaped weapon that has metal thorns covering its length
Three Sectional Staff: 3 lengths of wood of equal length connected together by metal rings
Tiger Fork: Large trident for killing tigers (and men) now often seen in the lion dance kung fu
Waist Sword (knife): Flexible enough to be worn round the waist like a belt
Willow Leaf Knife: Thin curved knife
Wolf Teeth Cudgel: Cudgel that is tipped with metal thorns
Yueh Ya T'san: Long weapon which was half moon shaped
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