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Chinese Kungfu

Chinese kungfu (功夫, martial arts) is a distinctive part of traditional Chinese culture with a long history and great popularity. Foreigners might have got acquainted to, and impressed with, Chinese kungfu through world-renowned kungfu movie stars like Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jackie Chan, or through action cinema like Kungfu panda. Its uniqueness and charisma that has its roots in traditional oriental culture appeal to increasing numbers of people in other nations.
Chinese kungfu, kungfu cinema, kungfu literature, China Kungfu CultureChinese kungfu, kungfu cinema, kungfu literature, China Kungfu Culture

Bruce Lee

Jackie Chan

For the Chinese, Kungfu means much more than a system of fighting techniques. Aside from its function in offence & defence, Kungfu has a considerable role to play in moral cultivation, body building, and aesthetic appreciation. All schools of Chinese kungfu masters hold it a top priority to cultivate moral characters, spirit and temperament, as well as develop good manners and conduct, through practicing martial arts. When practicing martial arts, one has to coordinate his breathing, movement and thinking, the pliability of the joints and the suppleness of the back and legs are also improved, and human strength and speed of movement enhanced. The most attractive side of Chinese kungfu might be its Oriental aesthetic effect, which can be appreciated through the graceful movements of the human body. Watching a Chinese kungfu performance is a feast to both the eye and the mind for the audience.
Chinese kungfu, kungfu cinema, kungfu literature, China Kungfu Culture

Graceful movements makes watching a Chinese kungfu performance a feast to both the eye and the mind for the audience.

Chinese kungfu is closely associated with Chinese philosophy. For example, though there is the distinction between external (外家) and internal (内家) styles as abovementioned, no kungfu masters would make a very clear-cut distinction, as the absence of either the soft or the hard element would render the practioner’s skills unbalanced or deficient. This is a typical demonstration of the Chinese philosophical mentality of balance between yin and yang. Another good example is taijiquan, or shadow boxing, which is said to have been created by a Taoist monk named Zhang Sanfeng, and reflects such Taoist principles as the superiority of the soft over the hard, and the mental balance and calm.
Chinese kungfu, kungfu cinema, kungfu literature, China Kungfu Culture

A kungfu master is called wulin gaoshou (武林高手). Do you aspire to become a wulin gaoshou?

With a strong popular appeal, kungfu has had a role to play in literature, the cinema and TV culture. Stories of wuxia (武侠, chivalric men/women good at martial arts) date from the Early Han Dynasty, and became popular in Tang Dynasty as can be observed from literature of the time (eg. in Li Bai’s poetry). Shuihuzhuan (水浒传,The Outlaws of the Marsh), one of the four greatest Chinese classic novels, depicts over one hundred legendary figures with extraordinary kungfu skills. And popular fiction writers of the 20th century such as Jin Yong, Gu Long, Liang Yusheng, Wang Dulu, etc, created a number of stories based on such Chinese concepts as jianghu (江湖) and wulin (武林), a separate martial arts society with a theme centered on martial arts. Some of these fictions have been adapted into films and TV series with long-standing successes, and published in various foreign languages. The martial arts, as depicted in kungfu novels by Jin Yong, for example, often involve a lot of understanding and appreciation of Chinese philosophical principles and aesthetics.
Chinese kungfu, kungfu cinema, kungfu literature, China Kungfu Culture

Chinese kungfu, kungfu cinema, kungfu literature, China Kungfu Culture

Kungfu literature and kung films/TV drama series are a well-liked genre of Chinese popular culture.

A number of kungfu styles have developed over time, which are often classified according to their common traits, geographical location, identified as “families” “sects” or “schools” of martial arts. There is the distinction between external (外家拳) and internal (内家拳) styles, the former emphasizing muscular strength while the latter the “internal power”. By geographical location, there are northern and southern styles: the northern styles emphasize fast and powerful kicks, high jumps and generally fluid and rapid movement, while the southern focus more on strong arm and hand techniques, and stable, immovable stances and fast footwork. Chinese kungfu can also be categorized according to religion, imitative-styles and family styles, etc. The oft-mentioned major schools of martial arts include Shaolin, Wudang, Emei, and Southern Boxing, each with a number of sub-schools under its heading.


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