功夫 KUNG FU

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I don’t know about everyone else but the first thing that comes to my mind upon meeting an Asian person is Kung Fu then Chow Mein and later on technology. These are the mental tags that pops up in my head.

We have all heard tales, stories and seen films about Kung Fu. There are different versions as to where Kung Fu originated from but as Kung Fu probably started before civilisation or documentation we cannot be certain as to who started it, where or why. It has been claimed that the monks in Shaolin Temple started it and also that they were taught by an Indian monk called Bodhidharma. Other versions recount that the art had started even before the shaolin temple was built.

As opposed to the belief that Kung Fu is a single martial art like Taekwondo or Judo, it comprises hundreds of different types of Chinese martial arts like the Shaolin (Eagle Claw, White Crane, and Praying Mantis), Tai-Chi-Chuan (great-limit boxing), Hsing-i (forming an idea), Eight Trigrams, Yung-ch’un (singing of spring), Tantric, Arhat, Long Fist, Hung Gar, Drunken Boxing and Monkey. Some of these styles have been imitated from the unique techniques of defence and attacks used by animals as it is believed that these techniques have kept animals safe in a harsh natural environment and therefore powerful and effective . There is also a distinction between internal and external Kung Fu. In external, one exercises his physical body and in internal exercises mind, spirit and ch’i (flow of life energy)

Hollywood films might have led us to believe in myths like the single death blow, the agile ability of a Kung Fu fighter to disarm weapon wielding opponents or even fight off multiple opponents or that Kung Fu masters can cure cancer. While it is true that Kung Fu is effective for defence, mental and physical health it has its limits.

Kung Fu is an integral part of the Chinese culture. After the Second World War, under the communist rule the practice of Kung Fu was prohibited to prevent those practising it from forming an allegiance against the government and wasn’t allowed until the 1980s when the communist leaders realised that the art was dying due to the death of traditional masters. The art didn’t fully recover from this as its present level of practice is a far cry from how it was practised in early times.

Kung Fu aims to imbibe moral achievement in its learners as well as physical training. It emphasizes values like endurance, respect, courage, tolerance, discipline, perseverance, loyalty and reverence for life. The idea of Kung Fu came about for prolongation of life rather than to kill. The violence found in other martial art is absent in Kung Fu because the nature of the training encourages a calm disposition and astute view of life therefore eliminating selfish and aggressive attitude.

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