Kung Fu – Chinese martial art meaning hard work and dedication… Kung Fu has literally hundreds of different styles. Over the centuries of development in China, Kung Fu has become a large system containing various schools or sects. It is recorded that there are over 300 distinct types of boxing existing around the country. The styles in northern and southern China are quite different. Therefore it is hard to be simply classified. The northern styles, such as Shaolin Kung Fu, tend to put a level of importance on kicks and wide stances. The southern styles are more about the utilization of the hands and narrower stances.
As martial art, kung fu can be traced to the Zhou dynasty (1111–255 bc) and even earlier. As exercise it was practiced by the Daoists in the 5th century bc. Its prescribed stances and actions are based on keen observations of human skeletal and muscular anatomy and physiology, and it employs great muscular coordination. The various movements in kung fu, most of which are imitations of the fighting styles of animals and nature.
Although being fighting styles, Kung Fu advocates virtue and peace, not aggression or violence. This has been the common value upheld by martial artists from generation to generation. With a number of movement sets, boxing styles, weapon skills and some fighting stunts, Kung Fu keeps its original function of self-defense. Now its value in body-building and fitness is also highly appreciated. Kung fu is primarily a striking style of martial arts that utilizes kicks, blocks, and both open and closed hand strikes to defend against attackers. Depending on the style, kung fu practitioners may also possess knowledge of throws and joint locks. The art utilizes both hard (meeting force with force) and soft (using an aggressor’s strength against them) techniques. Kung Fu is widely known for its beautiful and flowing forms. Integrated Martial Arts teaches both northern and southern Kung Fu forms.