Join Date: Jul 2009
I feel the need to inform you on the history and actual nature of Kung-Fu.
Kung-Fu is not a system of martial arts, but rather a Chinese term used to describe skill (ie a good cook would have good 'kung-fu'). But, I will not argue western terminology. Kung-Fu was not taught to any monks by Bodhidarma, but was rather a collection of unique fighting techniques developed by different people of different walks of life throughout several years. These people - be they bandits, farmers, what have you - conglomerated the techniques they found to be effective at defending their lives, and called it Wushu, meaning Martial Arts. Eventually, several different TYPES of Wushu began to branch out from the original STYLE. Thus you have Northern and Southern Shaolin, Hung Gar, Mantis, Bagua, Xing Yi, etc. Wushu became more and more effective and useful in warfare when combat often came down to hand-to-hand scenarios. These styles defended the country for several years against foreign invasion and occupation, and was extremely effective at quickly dispatching an opponent. And the CMA (Chinese Martial Arts) remained this way for several centuries, but with one difference: new techniques for different situations always arose so that those who practiced the art could effectively be able to adapt quickly in different combat scenarios.
It wasn't until the Chinese Cultural Revolution that Wushu was dealt its most devastating defeat, which was not by any foreign combatant, but rather by its own nation's government. During the CCR which lasted from 1969-1976, the practice of martial arts in China was prohibited. Several traditional temples were destroyed, and several instructional, lineage, and historical scrolls and texts were destroyed. Only a few students and instructors were able to hide their documents, thus preserving the original art. But the biggest betrayal was the Chinese government's police force's use of traditional Wushu against the temples and schools. Over these years, the traditional art was all but whiped out. Eventually, the government established what is now known as "sport Wushu", a showy style of the original with no real combative applications. This is the style that YOU know of: the movie style containing unrealistic flying kicks, swinging wind-mill type punches, etc, etc.
However, the government, feeling sympathetic to those who tried so hard to remain loyal to both their traditions and their country eventually allowed the lineage (traditional) styles of Wushu (the styles meant for self-defense and actual combat) back into the public. Now these styles are practiced in Police academys, and most notably, the Chinese Armed Forces. Whereas Sport Wushu is limited to exhibitions, movies, and schools teaching the EXHIBITION art.
You will not find a school teaching the traditional styles unless the instructors were taught by fifth generation Sifus. Any other instructor that claims otherwise, is a fraud, or is merely teaching Sport Wushu.
In addition, Traditional Wushu's style emply circular blocks (which leaves openings in one's defense), quick footwork, grappling, joint locks, and vital strikes to vunerable points to the body. Practioners of the traditional styles do, in fact, train to withstand impacts, blunt force, and they employ exercises to strengthen soft tissue. The traditional styles also use every part of their bodies. From finger-tips, shoulders, hips, knees, shins, heels, back of the wrist, palm of the hand, etc. etc. Northern Shaolin practioners are very proficient with kicks, and often employ several exercises meant to increase muscle mass in the legs. Hung Gar is used for strong stances by lowering the center of gravity to avoid being brought down, and most CMA use blocks that can immediately be translated into attacks.
So, with that said, I hope it clears a few things up. I believe in a fight, it comes down to experience, not style. For if one style was superior to all the rest, then there would be no such thing as MMA. I can say this because I practice in BJJ, Traditional Northern Shaolin and San Soo, Kickboxing, and Isshin Ryu, and have fought with several fighters proficient in each.
Now, if anyone has any questions or would like me to, I will gladly post videos of my class (taught by Seventh Generation Sifu, Larry Bostic who was instructed by Sixth Generation Edward T. Shepard, who was taught by Fifth Generation Sifu Fei Hwon Pei) and several other instructors versed in various arts.