Kung Fu means “skill and effort” and can describe anything that one needs to spend time training in and becoming skillful in. When it means “martial art,” Kung Fu refers to the hundreds of styles of martial arts in China, all of which are different. However, there is one thing that all Chinese martial arts have in common and that is the idea that Kung Fu itself is merely skill.

The real value of Chinese martial arts goes beyond self defense. It lies within the strong traditional training that all Kung Fu styles emphasize: training that teaches the student to respect the teacher and the teacher’s advice; to be respectful towards other Kung Fu styles and to only use Kung Fu in a morally correct manner.

The real value of Chinese martial arts goes beyond self defense. It lies within the strong traditional training that all Kung Fu styles emphasize: training that teaches the student to respect the teacher and the teacher’s advice; to be respectful towards other Kung Fu styles and to only use Kung Fu in a morally correct manner.

Kung Fu underwent its early development within the walls of the Chinese monasteries. The monks possessed the time and learned natures to refine and synthesize the combative arts.

Northern style of Kung Fu developed in the most famous monastery in China called Shaolin (Young Forest). This is where all Kung Fu first developed in about 500 AD. The monks developed and catalogue techniques based on the movements they studied from the Tiger, Crane, Leopard, Snake, and Dragon for health and self defense.

Kiao Yuan expanded the Shaolin movements to 72, and later he extended them further to 172. He classified them into the five formed fist: tiger, crane, leopard, snake, and dragon. Each of these animals symbolized something from a corner of man’s mind or spirit as well as his physical self, which also had to be developed. Tiger emphasized the use of the hands (claws) and man’s intention. Crane, punches and strikes and man’s concentration. Leopard, footwork and agility and mentality. Snake, hard work and development of chi. Dragon, the twisting and turning of man’s movements and of his spirit. From these theories developed three other concepts: hei lek, man’s natural strength; gin lek, man’s refined force or chi; and the center point at which gin lek originated from tan tien, the sea of chi.

Nearly two-thirds of the Shaolin systems seem to have come from these animals and they were further systematized by men who originated and performed profusely in one or more of these. From them arise the five names which are now famous: hung, fut, mak, choy, and li.

Hung is based primarily on power and long hand techniques. Fut is primarily short hand with slicing and tripping. Mak is long hand style with kicks and breaking. Choy is speedy maneuverability with hand and body movements like those of a snake. Li represents short hand movements with many pokes and slaps.

In the middle 1600’s the Manchu dynasty overthrew the Ming empire and subjugated the Chinese people to foreign rule. Because of the native resistance to foreign rule, men with power, such as martial artists, were hunted and killed by the Manchus in an effort to break the back of the resistance. Monasteries were burned and the monks were forced to flee for their lives, but with them they took their art.

This Northern style system is characterized by the long arm techniques, low and high kicks, and circular techniques combined with beautiful yet deadly flower techniques. The Eagle Claw system specializes in using the hand like the claw of the Eagle to capture and lock an opponent. There are 108 locks that are combined with pressure points, throws, groundfighting and even gymnastics. The advanced practitioners of Eagle Claw develop their hand and finger strength so that they can crush bones, stop blood and air flow and disrupt the nerves.

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