Chinese Kung fu
Kung fu, (also known as Wushu or martial arts) is a traditional Chinese sports which has developed over a long historical period. It is probably one of the earliest and longest lasting sports which utilizes both brawn and brain. The theory of Kung Fu is based upon classical Chinese philosophy. Over its long history it has developed as a unique combination of exercise, practical self-defense, self-discipline and art.
In order to survive the extremely hostile environment, our primitive Chinese ancestors learned some primary means of attack and defence such as leaping, tumbling and kicking. Moreover, they generally knew how to fight with weapons made from stones and wood or bare-hand fighting. This is considered to be the origin of Chinese Kung fu.
As a traditional form of spiritual expression and refinement in China, Kung fu can be divided into two main categories: external and internal. The former are the generally fast-moving and focused on physical ability. Internal martial arts such as Taiji Quan focus on awareness of the mind, body, and spirit. They seek to comprehend internal relationships and, in doing so, bring external strength and ability. Both forms are practiced today not only for their health benefits, but also for their grace, their beauty, and the spiritual understanding they bring.
The movements in Kung fu include kick, boxing, wresting and seizing, which are performed by rules. Sects of martial arts are various. Generally speaking, Shaolin Sect and Wudang Sect are the most famous two. Both of Shaolin and Wudang Kung fu lay emphasis on the external practice for Jing (genuine energy), Qi (vital energy) and Shen (spirit) and internal practice for muscle, bone and skin.
The basic Kung fu spirit is to value martial arts while at the same time upholding virtue; this has been advocated by martial arts performers from generation to generation. Chinese martial arts are just like a knowledgeable teacher from whom people can learn a lot in order to survive in this complicated world.
Shaolin Kung fu
Being an important part of Chinese traditional martial arts, Shaolin Kung fu is considered to be the authentic Chinese Kung fu. Originally, Shaolin Kung fu was developed from the Shaolin Temple, in Henan Province. While cultivating in the thick forest of the high mountains, monks created a set of body-building exercises by learning the postures of flying, jumping and running from birds, beasts and fish. Gradually, these body-building exercises developed into a sort of boxing through long practice and improvement, which is generally called 'Shaolin boxing'. Shaolin Kung fu include boxing, stick art, spear art, sword art and so on. Shaolin boxing is strong and powerful. It is a combination of attack and defence thus making it practical for real fights. Stick art played an important role in wars. It can not only defeat the enemy and achieve victory, but also improve health and promote longevity. Spear is regarded as the king of the ancient weapons. Spear arts are various, including Shaolin spear, Yezhan spear, Lanmen spear and so on. Sword arts have a far-reaching influence on the Shaolin martial arts. The vigorous sword dance brings people a wonderful aesthetic feeling.
Wudang Kung fu
Wudang Kung fu arts are greatly related to the Chinese native religion - Taoism. It is said that Zhang Sanfeng, a Taoist who lived in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) created Wudang martial arts. Wudang Kungfu emphasizes the strengthening of bones and muscles and internal cultivation, and encourages the use of softness to conquer the unyielding. It doesn't advocate attack but at the same time it is hard to defeat. Shadow boxing, Bare-hand fighting in six steps, Wuji boxing are all types of Wudang Kungfu. Wudang Sword is regarded as Wudang's priceless treasure.
Taiji Quan is a Taoist internal martial art. One account of the history of Taiji Quan credits its development to the Taoist immortal Zhang Sanfeng, who is said to have drawn the inspiration for the art by watching a fight between a snake and an aggressive eagle. Embodying Taoist Philosophy, Taiji Quan is a very unique and powerful art, for both internal power and longevity. In terms of the Taoist principle of yin and yang, what was revolutionary about Taiji Quan was the incorporation of the yin element to fighting. In Taiji Quan one uses a balance of yin techniques with yang techniques, a balance between yielding and attacking. It is for this reason that Taiji Quan is described as "a needle hidden in cotton" or "hardness concealed in softness".Presently Taiji Quan is rapidly growing in popularity for the tremendous health benefits which come through practice. Clinical studies have shown that Taiji Quan practice can lower blood pressure, reduce nervous tension, and benefit the immune, digestive, cardiovascular and respiratory systems. The heart of the Taiji Quan system is the practice of the single Taiji Quan form. The form practice of Taiji Quan is the foundation of the training. Though Taiji Quan is done slowly, the movements are very difficult and strenuous. Regular practice of Taiji Quan greatly improves the functioning of the bodily systems.