What is Kung Fu?
Kung Fu refers to various ancient forms of martial arts which are said to originate from China. Kung Fu was first practiced by soldiers as protection from combat. Though many historians believe that the practice of Kung Fu did not start in ancient Shaolin temples, they still acknowledge that it became widely known and practiced because of Shaolin influence.
In the past, Shaolin temples were a refuge to criminals and fugitives who later became monks. This establishes the origins of kung fu from Shaolin temples. Kung fu was practiced then as a form of exercise for the monks to help them survive strict meditation regimens.
Kung fu may be classified into Northern and Southern styles. Northern style of kung fu involves acrobatic leg work and stylish patterns. These techniques are attributed to the colder climate in the northern parts of China wherein the upper extremities may have some movement restrictions from the thick robes the monks wear. Techniques from the northern regions of China are considered well-suited for battles in large areas with movements geared toward lengthening of stances and evasion of contact. Southern style meanwhile features hand techniques and lower kicks and stances mainly due to the shorter stature of people in this region. But since hand techniques are stronger in the South, these were ideal for close contact combats in limited spaces or areas. And since possible threats are in a close range, various blocking techniques accompany the strong hand movements.
Kung fu is still being practiced in many parts of China today and the techniques have also influenced various other martial art forms, like the karate moves of Japan. Other forms of fighting techniques are also being associated with kung fu, even those that did not originate from Shaolin temples. These techniques include the Pa-Kua technique, Eight Drunken Immortals style, and the Eagle Claw moves.