The average American understands Kung Fu as a hand-to-hand combat style involving explosive chops and kicks. These and other ideas are largely formed by Hollywood action movies featuring actual Kung Fu practitioners. The roles played by stars such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Lee, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Chuck Norris, among others, have drawn a line between martial arts and the fighting skills that are but a fraction of the discipline.
What is Kung Fu?
The term “Kung Fu” is derived from “Gong Fu,” which loosely refers to “personal achievement” or “mastery” of a practice that calls for patience, energy, and time to complete. Its roots can be traced to the Zhou Dynasty, and Taoists practiced formal stances and movements as exercise regimens during the 5th Century BC.
As a martial art, Kung Fu instruction focuses on self-discipline to control negative thoughts and heated emotions. The goal is to resolve conflict through peaceful techniques. Knowing you have the ability to defend yourself proves a powerful de-escalation asset. But when an aggressor is bent on violence, the combat abilities learned at a self-defense studio help protect against bodily harm.
What are the Kung Fu Fighting Styles?
Although a wide variety of styles have evolved over the centuries, the ancient Chinese masters who developed Kung Fu looked to the natural world around them. They based many of their physical combat strategies on wildlife.
While differences exist between schools of thought, these are the five animal based styles of Shaolin Kung Fu:
- Tiger: Considered among the most powerful and agile animals, Tiger strategies typically involve charging an opponent. A blend of brute force and circular movements are designed to overwhelm an adversary. The Tiger Claw is considered its signature and involves using an open hand to strike and grab.
- Leopard: Characterized by speed and efficiency, the Leopard uses quick strikes to inflict pain and discomfort. Prioritizing soft tissue areas, as well as the ears and neck, the half-fist Leopard Paw is considered its signature.
- Crane: These techniques are designed to be elusive and keep an enemy at a distance. Graceful and primarily defensive, a signature Crane Break strike bunches the fingers and thumb to deliver a pinpointed blow.
- Snake: Using kicks and sweeps targeting an aggressor’s lower body, the Snake generally avoids the traditional fist. Instead, attacks using quick, targeted hits with the two-fingered Snake Hand take an opponent by surprise.
- Dragon: Using full fists, snapping kicks with the blade of the foot, and grabbing any vulnerable part of the body, Dragon techniques deliver powerful blows. The Dragon-Tail kick and Dragon Claw are widely considered signature attacks.
Although Kung Fu founders emulated the natural offensive and defensive strategies of these and other wildlife, the practice remains diverse. Students learn strikes and kicks, as well as grappling and throwing methods to defend themselves. As a discipline, Kung Fu continues to provide wide-reaching benefits.
What are the Benefits of Practicing Kung Fu?
Before signing up for Kung Fu instruction at a self-defense studio, it’s essential to consult with a medical professional. People with health conditions may be more suited to less physically taxing martial arts such as Tai Chi. It’s also good to undergo a physical exam to ensure you do not have a condition that could be exacerbated.
That being said, Kung Fu can be practiced by a wide range of people. Studies indicate that young children enjoy many of the following benefits gained by teens and adults of all ages.
- Fitness: Students can anticipate an exercise routine that builds strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health.
- Character: Like other martial arts, ethical values such as perseverance, discipline, loyalty, and a calm disposition are emphasized.
- Self-Defense: The ability to remain calm under duress and use Kung Fu techniques only as a last resort can prevent injury or loss of life.
Kung Fu and other martial arts are something of a counterbalance to violence and divisiveness in culture today. Rather than give in to negative thoughts and the behaviors that follow, martial arts training helps everyday people feel grounded.
How to Get Started Learning Kung Fu
The United Studios of Self Defense Vancouver offers world-class instruction in three types of self-defense and martial arts: Shaolin Kempo, Tai Chi, and Kung Fu. We offer both group instruction and one-on-one classes to fit your schedule and instruction needs. We offer classes for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced in each of the above three disciplines. Classes are available for both adults and children. If you or a family member would benefit from learning Kung Fu or another martial art, contact United Studios of Self Defense Vancouver today.
Contact USSD Vancouver
The United Studios of Self Defense (USSD) Vancouver offers world-class instruction in three different types of self defense and martial arts: Tai-Chi, Kung Fu, and Shaolin Kempo. We offer both group instruction and one-on-one classes to fit your schedule and instruction needs. We offer classes for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced in each of the above three disciplines. Classes are available for both adults and children.
Contact us today to learn more about our martial arts programs or to set up a time to visit one of our classes in person. Our instructors work with students at every age and stage of martial arts development and are dedicated to helping you cultivate self defense skills that meet your goals and make you feel great about yourself.
"*" indicates required fields