What is Kung Fu

Chinese Martial Arts | What is Kung Fu | Chinese Martial Arts Training | History of Chinese Martial arts | Kung Fu Origin and History | Shaolin Kung Fu | Styles of Chinese Martial Arts | The Term of Kung fu | The Term of Wushu | Yin and Yang

Chinese martial arts describes the enormous variety of martial arts styles originating in China. Kung fu and wushu are popular terms that have become synonymous with Chinese martial arts.

However, the Chinese terms kung fu (Chinese: 功夫 pinyin: gongfu) and wushu (Traditional Chinese: 武術; Simplified Chinese: 武术) have very distinct connotations. Each term can describe different martial arts traditions and can also be used in a context without referencing martial arts.

Colloquially, kung fu (or gong fu) alludes to any individual accomplishment or cultivated skill. In contrast, wushu is a more precise term that refers to general martial activities. The term wushu has also become the name for a modern sport similar to gymnastics involving the performance of adapted Chinese bare-handed and weapons forms (tàolù 套路) judged to a set of contemporary aesthetic criteria for points.

References to the concepts and use of Chinese martial arts can be found in popular culture. Historically, the influence of Chinese martial arts can be found in books and in the performance arts specific to Asia.
Recently, those influences have extended to the movies and television that targets a much wider audience. As a result, Chinese martial arts have spread beyond its ethnic roots and have a global appeal.

Martial arts plays a prominent role in the literature genre known as wuxia(武侠小说). This type of fiction is based on a Chinese concepts of chivalry, a separate martial arts society (Wulin, 武林) and a central theme involving martial arts.

Wuxia stories can be traced as far back as 2nd and 3rd century BC, becoming popular by the Tang Dynasty and evolving into novel form by the Ming Dynasty. This genre is still extremely popular throughout East Asia and provides a major influence for the public perception of the martial arts.

Martial arts influences can also be found in Chinese opera of which Beijing opera is one of the best-known examples. This popular form of drama dates back to the Tang Dynasty and continues to be an example of Chinese culture. Some martial arts movements can be found in Chinese opera and some martial artists can be found as performers in Chinese operas.

In modern times, Chinese martial arts have spawned the genre of cinema known as the martial arts film. The films of Bruce Lee were instrumental in the initial burst of Chinese martial arts’ popularity in the West in the 1970s. Martial artists and actors such as Jet Li and Jackie Chan have continued the appeal of movies of this genre.

Martial arts films from China are often referred to as “Kung Fu movies” (功夫片), or “Wire Fu” if extensive wire work is performed for special effects, and are still best known as part of the tradition of Kung Fu Theater. (see also: wuxia, Hong Kong action cinema).

A U.S. network TV western series of the early 1970s called Kung Fu also served to popularize the Chinese martial arts on television. With 60 episodes over a three-year span, it was one of the first North American TV shows that tried to convey the philosophy and practice of Chinese martial arts. The use of Chinese martial arts techniques can now be found in most TV action series, although the philosophy of Chinese martial arts are seldom portrayed in depth.