Chinese Kung Fu

Kungfu, also called Wushu or Chinese martial arts, is the fruit of Chinese people’s wisdom. It is a traditional Chinese sport which applies the art of attack and defence in combat and the motions engaged with a series of skill and tricks. It is also an important part of Chinese traditional culture and is the unique “martial art” in the world. Chinese Kungfu has exerted a great influence on the world. Not only has there been a great deal of Chinese and foreign film and TV work, but also Shaolin boxing, Shadowboxing, Wing Chun and other Chinese Kungfu that have been widely spread around the world. At present, Chinese traditional Kung Fu has been fully preserved and promoted in China.


The core idea of Chinese Kungfu is derived from the Confucian theory of both “the mean and harmony” and “cultivating qi” (meaning nourishing one’s spirit). Meanwhile, it also includes thoughts of Taoism and Buddhism. It emphasizes the coupling hardness with softness, and internal and external training, which contains the pondering of life and the universe of ancient great thinkers.

History of Chinese Kungfu

Chinese Kungfu has a long history in China, which originated from the productive labor of our ancient ancestors. In their hunting activities, they gradually developed the skills of splitting, chopping and pricking. This kind of primitive skills of both offensive and defensive are the basis of the martial arts.

During Clan Commune Era, tribal wars were of frequent occurence, so the fighting experience in the battlefield was accumulated and some successful movements were copied, taught and practise, thus the martial arts gradually formed. It took shape in slave society. During the Shang and Zhou dynasties, there was a “Martial Arts Dance” to train soldiers and boost morale. After entering the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States Period, the princes vied for supremacy, who attached great importance to the use of technology in the battlefield.

Chinese martial arts developed in feudal society. Since the Qin and Han dynasties, wrestling and fencing were prevailed. In the Tang dynasty, Wu regime system were introduced, which greatly promoted the development of martial arts. The Ming and Qing dynasties were the period of great development of martial arts. There are dozens of boxing styles and sects, such as long boxing, monkey boxing, Shaolin boxing, inner boxing and shadowboxing, Xingyi Quan, eight diagrams palm.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, martial arts flourished. In 1985, the first International Marital Arts Invitational Tournament was held in Xi ‘an, and the Preparatory Commission for the International WuShu Federation was established. This is a historic breakthrough in the development of Chinese martial arts. In 1999, International Martial Arts League was invited as a member of International Individual Events Federation by International Olympic Committee, which was the sign of Chinese Martial Arts walking global.

Classification of Chinese Kungfu

Chinese martial arts can be split into various categories according to different location, origin, forms or taolu, etc. and classified by “families(家)”, “sects(派)” or “schools(门)” . In the early days, Chinese martial arts was classified into two categories: the southern sect and the northern sect, or the internal family and external family. The internal family was represented by Tai Chi, Xingyi, and Eight Diagrams. The external family was collectively called Shaolin, which was divided into southern and northern.

1.Shaolin Kungfu

Named after the Shaolin temple in Songshan, Shaolin Kungfu is the most widely practiced in China, with the longest history and the largest number of boxing schools. It has undoubtedly become the mainstream school of Chinese martial arts. It is formed gradually in the long practice period of monks. The Shaolin Sect represents not only the Kungfu of Shaolin Temple, but as a brand of all the external Kungfu represented by Shaolin Temple. The Five Animals of the Shaolin Kempo system are based on the dragon, tiger, crane, leopard, snake, which clearly displayed the efficacy of both hard and soft movements, of both internal and external energy. Luohan quan, a completely pure Buddhist Shaolin style, is the most famous, and of the most important styles of Shaolin kung fu. Other famous styles include Yijinjing, Flood style, Plum Blossom style, etc.

2.Wudang Kungfu

Named after the place it is based, the Wudang sect was founded in Wudang mountain, Hubei province, and the first martial arts of the internal family. Wudang Kung Fu originated from Taoist sects. It began in the Song dynasty and was prosperous in Ming dynasty. After combining with the theory inside five elements, eight diagrams and nine palaces, it has formed an excellent routine for internal boxing. It also focus on the use of “soft and gentle” techniques to overcome opponents who rely on brute strength and force. Wudang boxing, also known as the Neijia boxing, this kind of boxing is aiming at cultivating the body and health protection. It have been spread around the world, and become people’s sports activities for health care, eliminating disease and prolonging life. Shadowboxing, Xingyi quan, Wuxing quan (Five-element Boxing) and eight extremes boxing are the major styles.

3.Emei Kungfu

It is commonly featured as one of the leading gorthodox sects in the martial arts circles. It is named after the place where it is based, Mount Emei. Emei sect was originally created by a women. With its style stronger than Wudang sect and softer than Shaolin Kungfu, it emphasizes both strength and softness, quickness and slowness, dynamic and static, virtual and actual, ups and downs, lightness and weight. There are eight schools called Eight Leaves, including Seng, Yue, Zhao, Du, Hong, Hua, Zi and Hui. In 2008, Emei martial arts was included in the second batch of national intangible cultural heritage list.

Kung Fu Stars

1.Bruce Lee(李小龙)

Bruce Lee is a Hong Kong and American actor, film director, martial artist and the founder of the martial art Jeet Kune Do, one of the Wushu or Kungfu styles. He is widely considered be one of the most influential martial artists of all time and often credited with helping to change the way Asians were presented in American films. He pioneered the Chinese approach to Hollywood, making it possible for westerners to understand and learn Chinese Kungfu, while making action films one of the mainstream films in Hong Kong.

2.Jackie Chan(成龙)

Jackie Chan not only represents the brilliant achievements of Hong Kong films, but also has an important influence on the world film industry. He is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons, and innovative stunts. He is the spokesman of Chinese Kungfu movie, showing foreigners the concept of the hero in Chinese traditional culture, and has opened a window for the world to understand Chinese culture, who become the disseminator of Chinese traditional culture.

3.Jet Li(李连杰)

Jet Li is one of the most famous martial arts stars in the world today. He had won the national martial arts all-around champion for five consecutive years , later made his debut with the film Shaolin Temple. Jet Li has created classic figures on the screen, Fong Sai Yuk, Zhang Sanfeng, Huo Yuanjia, Chen Zhen, and so on, reputed as a Kungfu emperor by domestic and foreign media . After 1997, he starred in a number of Hollywood blockbusters, joining a-list action star in Hollywood.

4.Donnie Yen(甄子丹)

Yen is one of Hong Kong’s top action stars. Yen has displayed notable skills in a wide variety of martial arts, being well-versed in Tai Chi, Boxing, Kickboxing, Jeet Kune Do, Hapkido, Taekwondo, Karate, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Wing Chun, and Wushu. In Hong Kong’s action actors and martial arts guides, Donnie Yen is alone into one.