Chinese Kung Fu

1.Introduction of Chinese Kung fu  

Kung fu, a kind of Chinese traditional WuShu, with a very long history, which can date back the period of Xia and Shang dynasties. Kung fu is produced and accumulated by numerous Chinese continuous labor practices, having a large mass foundation, which is considered as one of the most valuable Chinese cultural heritages.

Kung fu Kung fu

Contents of Kung fu

1. Origin of Kung fu

2.Classification of schools

(1)Difference of features

(2)Distinguished teachers

3.History of boxing form

(1)Forefather of boxing form

(2)Situations before Song dynasty

(3)The period of Song dynasty

(4)The period of Yuan dynasty

(5)The period of Ming dynasty

(6)The period of Qing dynasty

(7)The period of late Qing dynasty

(8)The period of Republic of China

(9)Modern and contemporary history

4. Three systems of Kung fu

5. The function of Boxing skills

6. Training of Kung fu

(1)Internal work

(2)External work

(3)Routines of Kung fu

(4)Equipment of Kung fu

7.Cultural connotations

(1)Spirits of Kung fu

(2)Culture of Kung fu

8. Characteristics of Kung fu

(1)Shape a healthy body

(2)Art performances

9.  Official agencies

10.   Actors of Kung fu

2.Origin of Kung fu


(1).Kung fu is a vital part of Chinese traditional culture, which is one of the main contents of Chinese  national sports. It is a good means of keeping healthy and self-defense for Chinese people in a period of several thousand years. That is the reason why it is called Kung fu. In the earlytimes of the republic of China, it was referred to as Guo Shu (later it was adopted formally); it is regarded as the quintessence of Chinese Han culture.

Owing to different history development as well as regional distribution, Kung fu is developed into several different schools. The contents of Kung fu include boxing skills, fighting skills, offensive and defensive strategies and the usage of Wushu. Among them its divided into two categories, one is theory knowledge, the other is real practice. It has several major functions such as shaping a fit body and cultivating spirits of Kung fu from some real practices; While weve also got some precious experiences and boxing records from theory knowledge.The styles of Kung fu have its routine, confrontation and so on. Hence, it reflects Chinese people have a good understanding of offensive and defensive boxing skills and its strategies. Added accumulation of practical experiences, the aim of Kung fu is learning independence,striving to self-improvement and keeping fit. The routine of Kung fu include boxing form, swords, arrows and sticks,ect.


When you practice these routines, it is essential to perform beautifully, you have to bring every body gesture to the best. Kung fu represents Chinas special culture characteristics, and exploratory meaning towards life, filled with extraordinary connotation of philosophy. In a word, it has a profound influence on Chinas public culture.

The origin of Kung fu can date back to Chinese primitive society. At that time, people fought with wild animals with sticks or other simple tools, accumulating some offensive and defensive experiences from these fights. In the period of Shang dynasty, hunting in the fields was considered as an important method of training of Wushu.

(2). In the period of Shang and Zhou dynasties, they made use of “material arts”(a kind of form of Wu shu)to train their soldiers, to encourage the morale of the troops. Interestingly, this kind of material arts was performed just like “dancing”. In Zhou dynasty, they set up a sort of agency called “Xu”. “Xu” added shooting and practicing material arts into the outline of education. The spring and autumn period and the warring states period, many ducal states paid much attention to the fighting skills and their usage in the battles. The duke Qi( a very famous leader in that time) held two tryouts in Spring and Autumn to select able and outstanding heroes. At that time, the production of swords and swordsmanship got unprecedented development. In the period of Qin and Han dynasties, wrestling and fencing was prevalent among people. At  that time, it was a kind of tradition that people performed material arts in some big parties. The Hongmen Banquet(a historical allusion in China) was well-known for the “Xiang Zhuang showing the performance of sword”, the form of which was more similar to the routines of today’s Wushu. In Han dynasty, the usage of marksmanship has reached to the perk of its development, all kinds of marksmanship started to appear. It is said that Huatuo(a famous Chinese doctor) initially created “Wu qinxi”(a kind of routine of material arts to keep healthy),which was regarded as the original source of today’s Wushu.

It is commonly considered that material arts was derived from the need of battles. However, in the book Chinese material arts---history and culture indicated that material arts was partially resulted from military demand, but actually to a large degree it was derived from private fights in the folk. There existed many differences between these two forms of material arts

3.Bruce Lee spread Chinese Kung fu all over the world


It is well-known that Chinese Kung fu has been spread abroad since the era of Bruce Lee. Most westerners started to learn about Chinese culture from Bruce Lee himself. Nowadays, Bruce Lee has become a Kung fu idol, Chinese culture icon as well as a spiritual pillar in people’s eyes. His legendary life has become a classical example in the process of communication of cross-culture. Bruce Lee was a superstar and material arts master at that time. He once had three big dreams in his life: spreading Kung fu throughout the world, bringing Chinese films into international market, and creating a new kind of Kung fu by himself. In modern times, westerners know and understand Chinese Kung fu and films mostly via Bruce Lee. As an outstanding material arts master, Bruce Lee almost devoted his whole life to research and carry forward Chinese Kung fu.

At a very young age, he started to learn Tai Chi Quan from his father Li Haiquan. Later he became a student of a professional material arts teacher called Liang Zipeng, who was famous for his Nei- family boxing. At the same time, he also learned Wing Chun under the guidance of  the distinguished leading figure Ye Wen in Hong Kong. Then he learned Jie Quan from a famous  teacher Shao Hansheng, and mastered a good method of muscle training with the help of a well-known material arts teacher Yan Jinghai. Next he learned "Wave" Ken stream karate from Ed Parker, “the father of American karate”. He studied jiu-jitsu under the leadership of Kenny Labarre, who was regarded as “the father of jiu-jitsu”. He learned Tae kwon do from “the father of American Tae kwon do” Li Junjiu, then “the king of stick” Dan Iushando in Philippines taught Bruce Lee to study his national material arts.......


Bruce Lee spent many hours training Chinese Kung fu and researching foreign boxing skills every day. He actively accepted all different kinds of boxing forms and initially created his own Kung fu style --Jeet Kune Do. Undoubtedly, he made much progress from these extraordinary boxing skills. He set up a material arts museum in America to teach foreigners learn Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do. Bruce Lee also delivered many speeches to express his understanding towards Chinese Kung fu. At the same time, he communicated with many outstanding material arts masters from all over the world. These valuable training skills and experiences were quite helpful to his books about Kung fu. For example, Jeet Kune Do, the study of Jeet Kune Do, the records about Kung futhe two section stick, the illustration of boxing skills of Bruce Lee as well as The fighting skills of Bruce Lee. These are very important books illustrating Chinese Kung fu in details. Therefore, Bruce Lee made a great contribution to the worldwide transmission and communication of Chinese kung fu. Bruce Lee was awarded as “the king of Kung Fu”, “ the winner of material arts”, and “the efficient man carrying forward Chinese Kung fu”.

It was a pity that Bruce Lee only joined and produced nearly 20 films about Kung fu.

While he successfully achieved one of his dreams bringing Chinese films into international market. More and more people got to know what Chinese kung fu is and how to learn Chinese Kung fu,ect. Bruce Lee came into fame after his extraordinary Kung fu performance in the TV serials,The Green HornetLater on, he was the leading role in the films of the big bossFists of Fury, Enter the dragon, The way of the dragon, and Game of death , which were quite popular in foreign countries. Most Kung fu amateurs expressed their big interest in Chinese Kung fu. Obviously, Chinese Kung fu was well- known in the global world. The new word “Kung fu” started to appear in many authoritative foreign dictionaries, and Bruce Lee became “The first worldwide Chinese superstar of Kung fu”.

Then he was awarded as one of the ten big stars in Hong Kong in 1972. In 1993, Bruce Leecommemoratory badge was decorated on the celebrity main street in Hollywood. In 1998, The Association of Chinese Material Arts thought highly of Bruce Lee and awarded him for “the superstar of international material arts”. In 2005, he got the credit for Bruce Lee great contributions to Chinese films stepping into globalization. Therefore, he was nominated as one of the 100 splendid actors of 100 years in history. And he got the prize of Great contributions to Cross-culture Communication. In 2007, he was chosen as one of the 50 film stars on Total Film magazine in Britain.

4.Classification of schools

There are many schools of Kung fu in China, which is a rare phenomenon in the world. Kung fu has a long history and fully developed in China. At present, it is calculated that there are more than 300 boxing forms which have clear development history, and special styles. Many different schools are resulted from different geography, climate and population factors based on Chinese PE history of Guo Xifen. People in the north are tall and strong, and the climate is very cold, causing their boxing form strong and powerful; while the boxing form in the south is exquisite and comparatively gentle because of there people short and slim. There is a proverb of “south fists, north legs”. Of course, this is not absolute. For example, Eight Diagrams Palm originated in the north rarely use legs to attack others. There are a range of different forms of Kung fu in China, but they don’t have a uniform name. Some named based on regions(Xin Yi Quan in He Nan province), some are named by famous hills or rivers(Wu Dang sect), some are named according to their initial creators or masters(Yang Shi Tai Chi Quan).......In the past, these schools were simply divided into two categories of Internal and External.

In 1949, The Communist Party of China became the ruling party, the formal teaching method  咏春拳

Kung fu was stopped. Only some material arts were used for keeping healthy as well as showing performance in some junior and senior schools. Since the Opening and Reform, Kung fu is divided into the routine(Tao Lu) and boxing&fighting skills based on their contents in general.

5.Well-known practitioners throughout history

Bruce Lee was a Chinese American martial artist and actor who was considered an important icon in the 20th century.He practiced Wing Chun and made it famous. Using Wing Chun as his base and learning from the influences of other martial arts his experience exposed him to, he later developed his own martial arts philosophy that evolved into what is now called Jeet Kune Do.

Zhao Xinzhou, he created Liu He Quan, mantis hand, and Liu He Men.

Huo Yuanjia was the founder of  Chin Woo Athletic Association who was known for his highly publicized matches with foreigners. His biography was recently portrayed in the movie Fearless.

Wong Fei Hong was considered a Chinese folk hero during the Republican period. More than one hundred Hong Kong movies were made about his life. Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li have all portrayed his character in blockbuster pictures.

Yip Man was a master of the Wing Chunand the first to teach this style openly. Yip Man was the teacher of Bruce Lee. Most major branches of Wing Chun taught in the West today were developed and promoted by students of Yip Man.


Jackie Chan is a Chinese martial artist and actor widely known for injecting physical comedy into his martial arts performances, and for performing complex stunts in many of his films.

Jet Li is the five-time sport wushu champion of China, later demonstrating his skills in cinema.

Donnie Yen is a Hong Kong actor, martial artist, film director and producer, action choreographer, and world wushu tournament medalist.

Wu jing is a Hong Kong actor director, martial artist. He was a member of the Beijing wushu team. He started his career as action choreographer and later as an actor.

6. The history of boxing form(Quan Shu)

The ancestors of boxing form

Hong Quan was initially originated from Shan Xi and Gan Su provinces. In Tang dynasty, it was transmitted into Shao Lin Temple in Song Shan hill in He Nan province. In the early times of the republic of China, it was attributed to the system of Shao Lin Quan and started to respectfully name dharma as the father of Shao Lin Kung fu. In the late Ming dynasty, Shao Lin Quan in north areas included Chang Quan, Liu He Quan, Luo Han Quan, Hou Quan, Xin Yi Quan, Tang Lang Quan and Tong Bei Quan,ect. All of them were categorized into Bei Shao Lin Quan and dharma was the father of this school. In the south areas, the Nan Shao Lin Quan included Chang Quan, Duan Da, Wu Quan, Hong Quan, Wing Chun, Bai He Quan and Cai Li Fo, the father of which was Shao Lin Wu Lao. Chang Quan was fully developed in North Song dynasty, some people called it as Tai Zu Chang Quan, initially created by Yue Fei and Song Taizu. Nan Quan, Hua Quan and Wu Quan were started in mid of Ming dynasty and fully developed in the late Qing dynasty. Internal was also fully developed in Qing dynasty, such as Tai Chi Quan, Ba Gua Zhang and Xing Yi Quan,ect. Repectfully name Zhang Sanfeng as the father. In the early times of the republic of China, it was reversed as Wu Dang sect.

7. Before Song dynasty

Shan Xi Hong Quan

At that time, it is said that boxing and fighting skills appeared in military training. Hong Quan could date back to the Zhou and Qin dynasty. “Wuwu” as well as “Jue Li” were prevalent in the capital of Xi Zhou. “fighting by hands”

and “fencing” were even more popular in Chang An, the capital of Tang dynasty. All of them were mostly for entertainment, but on the other hand, this kind of training helped a lot in improving skills.(The History of Chinese Kung Fu). The book of Shi Ji once recorded that soldiers jumped and danced at the party to celebrate the empire Qin’s victory of a big battle. It is said that the style of jumping and dancing at that party was the same as the routine of Chinese Kung fu, which was also similar to the style of Hong Quan in the folk. “Ji Bo Fu Bi”(people fighting by hands and shaking by legs) showed Qin people were wild and strong. Hong Quan experienced thousands of years of winds and rains, which was well-known for its richful developing history, a variety of routines, and comprehensive skills in Wu Lin. Hong Quan was also widespread in other areas, such as He Nan province, Gan Su province, Si Chuan province, Yun Nan province, Shan Xi province and Shang Dong province. Hong Quan was very popular in guanzhong region of Shan Xi province (the middle areas of China)in Qin dynasty, mainly because its capital Xian Yang was built in this region. In Song dynasty, it turned its original name into Tai Zu Hong Quan.


The book of Shao Lin Quan told us a famous story, in the late times of Song dynasty, a person named Jue Yuan visited the old man Li at the foot of the mountain Bai Yu Feng. He learned Hong Quan of all its forms hardly from the old man. Then he brought what he learned into Shao Lin temple, at that time , Hong Quan was rapidly developed. Obviously, Hong Quan was originated in Guanzhong region, later on popular in the whole country. There were many records about Shao Lin’ monks training Hong Quan in Tang dynasty. In AD 702, under the reign of the queen Wu Zetian, Wu regime system was set up to select soldiers who were talented in military fields. They adopted a practical way---Kung Fu test, to decide whether you were outstanding and competent or not. To some extent, the way greatly facilitated the development of Kung fu. Up to until the late times of Qing dynasty, the test was abolished. In the process of turnover and replacement of different dynasties, Kung fu has greatly improved and developed into a sort of cultural symbol. In the meantime, different schools of Kung fu appeared and fully developed. Most of them had a profound influence on southeastern nations.

8.In Song dynasty

Chang Quan in Hangzhou province

At the very beginning of the North Song dynasty, the empire ordered that ordinary people should be forbidden to set up some groups or organizations and secretly hid some weapons. In AD 1127, Songs palace had to move to the southern areas in terms of disadvantaged war situations. Under the leadership of patriotic generals Yue Fei and Han Shizhong, a large number of soldiers trained very hard to improve their skills of Kung fu. Hangzhou as the cradle of Chang Quan, whose forms concentrated more on the upper bodys movements and seldom jumped to leave the ground. It is said that the ancestors of Xin Yi Liu He Quan had a very valuable book named The Secret Boxing skills of the General of Yue Wu . In AD 1156, the court set up the course of Kung fu in Lin An, the capital of The North Song. In AD1180, the empire allowed young and strong people to join the party on the condition that they could pass the system of Wu Shus imperial examinations. Since then, those ordinary people of learning Kung fu had access to the upper class if they were talented in Kung fu. In the period of The North Song dynasty, there appeared 27 material arts masters in total. At that time, there were a great number of groups of material arts such as Jin Biao group, Ying Lue group, and Ma group. Besides, many private groups formed and developed in the folk. After the northern areas were occupied by the the minority Jin, a large number of refugees flooded into the Hangzhou province, in the meantime, they also introduced their northern boxing forms and mixed them with the southern ones. Many people who had a good command of material arts had to make a living everywhere in performing Kung fu. In a word, Chang Quan was forming and developing in the period of the Song dynasty.


9.The Yuan dynasty

In the history of China, it is well-known that the Yuan dynasty was controlled by the northern minority----the Mongol nationality. At that time, the Han nationality was considered as the lowest class. These people were not allowed to train Kung fu or establish some groups related to Kung fu. Based on the the newspapers of Tian Duo in the late times of Qin dynasty, Lu Weichang, a man from Guang Dong province, whose book named Shao Lin Patriarchal utilized fake history of Shao Lin to propagandize the campaigns against Qin dynasty said that the boxing forms of Shao Lin have not been recongnized by most people at the late times of Song dynasty and the beginning of Yuan dynasty. It is said that Jue Yuan learned the the training methods for the eighteen disciples of the Buddha from Dharma. Then he improved what he learned to more and simpler styles(Hua Quan). While Jue Yuan was still unsatisfied with what he achieved, he traveled everywhere to obtain more skills or experiences from some material arts masters.Fortunately, he got Li jia Quan, Bai mo Quan, as well as Cai jia Quan. In the end, he mixed the five kind of boxing forms and added into the Southern Shao Lin Quan Fa, which had about 170 boxing forms in total, including famous Wu Xing and Ba Gua Quan. At the same time, Jue Yuan put much emphasis on the moral regulations of Kung fu---that is the morality of material arts. He set ten big disciplines to regulate Shao Lin monks behaviors. Those above stories were all from history records. 

10. The Ming dynasty

Nan Quan in Fu Jian province  Mei Hua Quan in Si Chuan province


In the period of Ming dynasty, the capital was moved to Beijing. Chang Quan and Hong Quan were also taken to the northern areas. Mixed with those local material arts such as eighteen hands and Liu He, they have been considered as several forms of Shao Lin Quan since then.

Qi Jiguang(a very famous general in China) once made a list of schools of Chinese material arts. There were Chang Quan, Hong Quan, and Bazi Quan,ect. Obviously, at that time, Shao Lin sect and Wu Dang sect have not been recognized by most people. In the early times of the Republic of China, Chinese Kung fu was divided into different schools. Symbolically, they are generally referred to as the Southern Shao Lin.

Qi Jiguang learned Chang Quan at an very young age from his grandfathers as well as his fathers. He now was regarded as the master of Chang Quan. In the period of Ming dynasty, Ming was once invaded and occupied by Japanese. Qi Jiguang was an outstanding general to lead Chinese people fighting against invaders. Their army stationed at eastern coastal areas, during that time, Chang Quan and Wu Quan, Hua Quan and other material arts were widespread in coastal areas. Wu Xing Quan and He Quan were formed at that time in Fu Jian province. Hong Quan and Wing Chun were formed in Guang Xi and Guang Dong provinces. In Ming dynasty, there appeared External created by Zhang Jiaxi. Many boxing forms with unique features started to form and develop in Ming dynasty. Chang Quan later was developed into Tai- Chi Quan, Hong Quan and Hua Quan evoluted into Xin Yi Liu He Quan. Wu Quan was developed into Wu Xing Hong Quan. Chazi Quan and Bazi Quan evoluted into Tang Lang Quan.

11.The Qin dynasty

In the early times of Qing dynasty, people were not allowed to get together to train Kung fu or any other forms of material arts. The South Shao Lin Temple didn’t exist any more. And another Shao Lin Temple in Song Shan was also watched by upper class. Monks there were forbidden to practice Kung fu.

(1) Fo Shan in Guang Dong---South Shao lin---Hong Quan、Wing Chun

In the late times of Ming dynasty and early times of Qin dynasty, Wu Quan(five kinds of boxing forms) in southern areas were developed into Wu Xing Quan--one of Hong Quan. While nowadays people called them The South Shao Lin, which was very popular in Fu Jian and Guang Dong provinces. Actually it was originated from Fu Jian province, on the list of boxing forms in southern areas once made by Qi Jiguang---the well-known general. At that time, it was their obligations for those material arts masters to make sure the safety of sea salt carrying into the western provinces or the overseas goods delivering to the northern areas.

(2) Quan Shu in Chen Jia ditch( a village)---Chen-Tai Chi quan

Chen Wangting, once an official working in Qin government. When he retired and was back to his hometown, he put those Taoist theory into the practice of all forms of Quan Shu including Chang Quan, Pao Quan and Hong Quan. In the meantime, he expressed it was a useful way to shape a healthy body, then making every efforts to spread his Chen-style in Chen Jia Gou.

At the beginning of Qing dynasty, the security of those goods delivery must be guaranteed, so it was essential to ask guards (most had a good command of material arts)for help. Owing to those Han Chinese were forbidden to train Kung fu together, thus leading people living in Hui nationality regions likely to train material arts. Cang Zhou in He Bei province was the main road to deliver those goods into Beijing. And Liu He Quan and Luo Han Quan were prevalent there. Zha Zi Quan and Cha Quan created by those Hui Chinese were also very popular and then were added into local boxing forms. In the period of Qing dynasty, grain transportation, and shipping were at booming times, which was the real reason why bodyguards were prevalent at that time.

Ji Jike(1602-1683) taught Liu He Quan, including ten kinds of forms in total, later was developed into Xin Yi Quan and Xin Yi Liu He Quan,ect. Nowadays, people called it as The North Shao Lin.

Internal was firstly recorded in the book of Epitaph of Wang Zhengnan

p3 in 1669.

12.In the late times of Qing dynasty

After the Opium War(1840)

At first, Lin Zexu and Deng Tingzheng, two famous government officials in Guang Dong province, strictly ban local people to abuse drugs with the help of local organizations and material arts groups. In order to forbid the British Army accessing to the San Jiang waters in eastern Guang Dong province, they made great efforts to well develop militias in the folk. Those people were required to train based on the routines of Kung fu. However, later on, government didnt allow to gather a lot of people training Kung fu. Those groups were unfortunately dismissed or loosely managed. Until one day, Zeng Guopan, a distinguished Han Chinese official who was serving for the Qing government, established his own military army called Xiang Jun, giving material arts a rebirth of life.

Chen Changxin, spread Yang-Tai Chi nationwide, in the meantime, he simplified its Tao Lu( a kind of routine of Kung fu), and put much emphasis on the combination of hardness and softness. 

In 1851, The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom was formally established, subsequently in 1853 it situated its capital in Tian Jing (now is the Nan Jin province). At that time, material arts groups rapidly developed in southern areas such as in big cities Guang Zhou and Fo Shan, which provided plenty of human resources for development of The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. The leaders of those material arts groups were in attempt to avoid being given away and produced a bad affect on their families, so they hide their own real identities and used fake names. They called on the mass to fight against the Qing’s feudal regime in the name of The South Shao Lin. In the process of The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom movement, Hong Quan had chance to be spread from Guang dong province to Nan Jing province( that is it spread from southern areas to eastern areas).

Lin Zexu was forcely dismissed by The Qing Government in 1845 because of his aggressively dealing with the opium and drugs from British invaders. Chen Xiang, a famous material arts master, once actively taking part in the event of Burning of Opium Stocks in Humen Beach fighting with those British invaders. In 1845, he went back to his hometown Mei Xi village in Xin Hui of Guang Dong province and established about 44 material arts schools to teach more Chinese people to learn Kung fu(including Hua Quan, Pin Quan, Wu Xing Quan and Ba Gua Zhang,ect.) in defense of Chinese territory.

In 1852, Huang Huabao, a material arts master, taught what he had learnt to Liang Zan in Fo Shan city. He put much emphasis on the softness as well as toughness in skills of The Nan Shao Lin Quan. Wing Chun formed subsequently. And “Wu Mei Senior Nun” of the Nan Shao Lin Temple was considered as the first generation master.

In 1852, the name of Tai Chi Quan was firstly appeared in people’s eyes. At that time, it only had eight Gua, five hang and thirteen styles. We can obtain more information about Tai Chi from the book The introduction of Tai Chi Quan written by Wang Zongyuan in the period of Qing dynasty.


After 1956, the retired eunuch Dong Haichuan(1797-1882) established his own material arts school in Beijing to teach Ba Guazhang.

All in all, a large number of outstanding material arts masters played an important part in overturning the Qing regime, furthermore, what they did made great contributions to the further development of Chinese Kung fu.

After the failure of The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Movement(1864)

Hong Quan as well as Hua Quan and Ba Gua Quan(that is The Nan Shao lin Quan in the times of The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Movement) were spread into the areas of Nan Jing, Zhe Jiang and Jiang Su provinces.

Huang Qiying, the initial creator of Hong Quan in Guang Dong province taught it to Huang Feihong(1847-1924), a very famous master of Kung fu. Zhi Shan Zen Master, from the South Shao Lin Temple, was respectfully referred as to the first generation master of Hong Quan.

Zhang Yan took over the Fo Shan Hongsheng material arts center in 1876, mainly teaching Cai Li Fo Quan there. In Qing dynasty, local areas were mostly at unrest situations, so many wealthy people were willing to hire those men who have a good command of kung fu in defense of their safety and property security.

Especially at the late times of Qing dynasty, the Qing regime was unstable. Many ambitious people established material arts groups and called in a lot of masters of Kung fu.

In the middle times of Qing dynasty, Kung fu was also divided into two parts, nei and wai. Nei is related to Qi. The concept of qi is encountered in a number of Chinese martial arts. Qi is variously defined as an inner energy or "life force" that is said to animate living beings. There are many ideas regarding the control of one's qi energy to such an extent that it can be used for healing oneself or others. Some styles believe in focusing qi into a single point when attacking and aim at specific areas of the human body. Such techniques are known as dim mak and have principles that are similar to acupressur. And wai means training external physical body and shaping strong bones and muscles. Besides, it also had different theories from The Taoist and The Buddhist. Furthermore, it had a clear distinction of “south fists and north legs”.

In 1899, Yi He Quan and Tang Lang Quan started to form in Shang Dong province. Fan Xidong wrote the book Real Skills of Shao Lin on the basis of the book Luo Han Duan Da of the taoist Shengxiao and his own training experiences. The contents were involved in The Eighteen skills and The summary of Tang Lang Quan,ect.

It is said that the book of Real Skills of Shao Lin was related to how the taoist shengxiao learned Kung fu from Fu Ju Zen master in Shao Lin Temple and later learned it from some well-known monk in the Mountain Jun Shan.


13. Jin Quan----had secret connections with some religious organizations

In the northern areas, The Write Lotus in Shang Dong province and its branches had closely associations with those religious organizations, including Qi Xing Hong Quan, Yi He Quan, and Ba Fan Quan.

Mei Hua Quan in Si Chuang province, and we could find the evidence on the records of The Chu Lotus.

Fu Quan and Ba Gua Quan in Shang Dong province, which was prevalent in The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Movement.

14. In the late times of Qing dynasty and early times of The Republic of China

The name of Wu Dang Sect started to appear.

Wu Dang sect and External were the local material arts in the nearby areas of Tian Jing and Beijng provinces. Later on, mixed with Hong Quan and Pao Quan as well as Chang Quan, it evolved into another kind of style--Tai Chi Quan, Ba Gua Zhang and Xing Yi Quan, ect.

It is said that Wu Dang sect was initially created by Zhang Sanfeng in Song dynasty. Furthermore, it progressively formed different branches in the development period of Wu Dang sect. Shao Lin sect started to appear. At that time, revolutionary Party utilized its history to evoke the angry mood of anti- Qing regime among the masses.


15.Xuan Tong period 03

In 1911, the newspaper of Tian Duo in Shanghai published some articles about Shao Lin Kung fu. All of these articles were written by Cheng Tiesheng and his partners, from Guang Dong province. The contents of these articles were mainly related to the history development of The South Shao Lin, however, unfortunately, it was difficult to find evidences to prove the authenticity of the backgrounds and those places depicted in articles. And they only recorded the information of Hong Quan.

The North Shao Lin, which meant a kind of quan shu from Cang Zhou, He Bei province, including Liu He, Tang Lang,and Luo Han Quan. It mainly demanded learners of holding the breath and tightening their muscles when standing. It is a good way to shape a perfect abdominal muscle.

The South Shao Lin, referring to as Nan Quan, which mainly focuses on boxing skills. It don’t require that tight muscles compared with the South Shao Lin. It focuses more on a combination of hardness and softness.

Some quan shu like Gang Quan was full of power, subsequently, added into the element of softness. The most symbolic one was Wing Chun. The combination of hardness and softness was obviously a significant improvement of Kung fu moving to a higher level.

kung fu kung fu

At the early times of The Republic of China, the society was comparatively stable, and the economy was faced with an important transformation. In the meantime, a large number of safeguards and Tuan lian ( a kind of folk force) were allowed to learn material arts, resulting in the formation of many schools of Kung fu.

It is said that there was nobody to record the development history of Wu Dang Set , so up until now, people didn’t have a clear understanding of how it formed and developed.

At the very beginning of The Republic of China, Xu Yusheng, the Inheritance people of Tai Chi--Wu style, said that Song Shuming who once worked for Yuan Shikai (a distinguished figure at that time) collected the the Tai-Chi books of Song Yuanqiao(one of the initial creators of Tai-Chi quan). It is said that zhang Sanfeng taught Zhang Songxi and Zhang Cuishan, then they taught it to Song Yuanqiao. The Tai-Chi quan was named Shi San Shi(thirteen styles).

The sort of material art, which was taught in Qing military troops, was exactly what was taught in the new troops of Yuan Shikai, later on it was succeeded by Lineal warlord.

16.The Southern Shao Lin Temple 

There is no any records about the inherited history of Song Shan Shao Lin Temple.

At the fourth year of The Republic of China, Zhong Hua Book Company published the book The Secret of Shao Lin Quan. The content was similar to a Wu Shu story. However, many anecdotes about Shao Lin Temple we talked now almost came from this book, followed by a great deal of legend stories of Shao Lin. For example, the legend of the Southern Shao Lin Temple and The Shao Lin Temple was on fire.

The Secret of Shao Lin Quan recorded that Shao Lin was initial creator of the South sect. Dharma was once living in the temple,he felt that his disciples looked not very healthy, so he decided to invent a sort of material art to keep fit. That is Shi Ba Shou. The styles were not difficult to learn but effective for shaping a strong body. It was also called The Eighteen Arhats Hand. This sort of material art remained as it was for about several hundred years. When Jue yuan Shang Ren Converted to buddhist, The Eighteen Arhats Hand was then developed into 72 different styles.

In 1928, The Song Shan Shao Lin Temple was burnt out by the warlords. In 1926, the kuomintang started the Northern Expedition. On 6th March, 1927, the presider of the Shao Lin Temple, the monk Miao Xin, joined the Northern Warlords, then died in Wu yang, only 37 years old. After 1928, somebody said that he got the secret of the 72 styles. In 2000, Wu Zhongxian published 72 styles of The Shao Lin Temple and 36 skills of Wu Dang sect.

In 1909, Kung fu group was established in the folk. Beginning from Huo yuanjia setting up the first Kung fu group(Jing Wu Hui) in Shanghai, a series of similar Kung fu groups were established one by one in FoShan, Hankou, Guangzhou, Wuzhou, Nanning and other areas. At the same time, it had a profound influence on Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. The overseas Chinese there set up branches of those groups actively. The aim of Jing Wu Hui was advocating Kung fu, studying gymnast, nourishing strong people.

The Sports Research Agency in Beijing, was established by Xu Yusheng, Yang Jizi and other partners. It aimed at developing material arts, nourishing talents and rescuing our country.

17.Chinese Warrior Society

kung fu kung fu

In 1911, Chinese Warrior Society was set up under the advocation of the United League of China. It aimed at uniting the people who learned Kung fu, improving Chinese Kung fu, inspiring Chinese people. At the autumn of 1912, they held a great Kung fu performance at the parks in Tianjin and Hebei. The National Government advocated that people ought to practice Kung fu for a healthy body. Therefore, all schools were demanded to add a course of Kung fu. Since then, sport activities were blended into people’s daily life. At the very beginning of The Republic of China, appeared many Wu Shu schools in southern areas, the Guang Dong Nan Quan was said to originate from The Shao Lin Temple and E Mei sect. Actually it exposed its “new”. But its purpose was indicating that it came from orthodox Kung fu. In essence, it mixed with several masters’ Kung fu features. The book named Wan Nianqin about Zhi Shan, one of the five famous masters,was prevalent in material arts novels of Guang Dong during the period of Cixi. It could be bought in the folk. At the late time of Qing dynasty, the material arts novel Wan Nianqin, was very famous at those places of Guang zhou and Fo Shan. At that time, the local material arts called Wing Chun(Wumei was its master) was also well-known by people. Hong Quan and Hua Hong Quan (now refer to as The Shao Lin Wing Chun Quan) as well as Cai Li Fo(Zhi Shan was it master);Hua Quan(MiaoXian was it master); Dong Jiang Quan( Bai Mei Dao Ren was its master). The novel perhaps was created based on the developing materials of the above schools of Kung fu and some anecdotes in the folk. During the Period of dynasty transformation, many former generals would teach material arts in the folk, living a quiet and low-key life. At the old times, people who learned Kung fu, all chose the outstanding masters. However, nowadays, people mainly chose to learn based on different schools of Kung fu.

18The central material arts museum and other aspects

At the early times of the Republic of China, it advocated “ strengthening our country and race”. At that time, material arts was encouraged and widely promoted.

In 1927, the national government set up the central material arts museum in Nan Jing in order to further manage fragmented and strong material arts groups. And it also established an audit committee, of which Tang Fansheng was the first director. Tang stressed emphasis on the history of material arts, so he didn’t come to terms with those rich and powerful men. At last, he chose to leave there. The central material arts was managed by some military veterans such as Li Jinglin, Zhang Zhijiang and Du Xinwu,ect. They invited the masters of different schools of material arts to teach in the museum. They divided Chinese Kung fu into two major parts, one was Shaolin, the other one was Wu Dang set. Then we can divided them in more details. At that moment, Wan Naisheng( the student of Du Xinwu) said he belonged to Zi Ranmen of E Men sect.

Since then, the eight sects once only seen on material arts novels have started to come into sight, each had its own origin and development history.

In December,1927, the general Zhang Zhijiang set up the material arts research institute with the help of the famous educator Cai Yuanpei( the president of Peking University). It aimed at advocating the slogans of “strengthening and saving our country” and “defending invaders and developing a strong country”. In order to carry forward our Kung fu, the Nan Jing government and local military forces required soldiers to learn material arts and it was designated as a major course on the training list. Therefore, the society set off a booming wave of learning material arts. A large number of museums and material arts groups were progressively established throughout country.

In history, Japan’s purpose of invading Chinese territory was gradually obvious, Yue Fei( a famous general in Nan Song dynasty who fought against the minority Jin) and Zhu YuanZhang (the first empire of the Ming dynasty) were both considered as the national heroes. Subsequently, it appeared many secret scripts of material arts, in which Yue Fei, Zhu Yuanzhang and Qi Jiguang were called big heroes against invaders. All of them had more or less connections with Shaolin Temple. In 1929, Da Sheng press published a book called Quan Jin. Until 1936, Tan Yinglu published a more complete secret script of material arts--The Summary of Quan Jin and Quan methods. After Tang confirmed the reliability of the book, he found it may be the remained material arts method of a Shaolin mook called Xuan Ji.

In 1929, Zhang Zhijiang and Li Jinglin held material arts meetings at the West Lake Expo. In 1933, the successor of Xing Yi Quan Xue Dian said that he learned Hua Tuo Wu Qin Shu( it was created by a famous doctor Hua Tuo in Chinese history) and acupuncture method from zen master Ling Kong in Wu Tai mountain. He published the Summary of Xing Yi Quan, the Summary of Xiang Xing Quan, and the Secret Acupuncture Method of Zen Master Ling Kong.

In August, 1936, Chinese material arts delegation took part in the performance contest in Berlin.

In the period of the two world wars and the Chinese civil war, Chinese Kung fu was at stagnant conditions. Wars stopped material arts to be learned and succeeded. During the course of the Second World War(1937) and the Reform and Opening up(1985), nearly 50 years,Chinese Material arts on Chinese mainland was not well-succeeded, thus resulting in most of valuable contents being severely destroyed or forgotten. Fortunately, some relics were still well-preserved in Tai Wan , Hong Kong and even foreign countries.

19.At the very beginning of Chinese Liberation

In 1950, The All-China Sports Federation was officially proposed that Chinese Kung fu was serving as keeping a fit body for Chinese people.

The Communist Party executed a public system, so it was not allowed to teach Chinese Kung fu in private. Some schools of Chinese Kung fu like Wing Chun which existed a powerful threat to public people were forcibly forbidden. In 1953, the master of Xing Yi Men--Xue Dian was sentenced to death because he led heretics and also delivered some heretic speeches among the public places. Xue Dian improved Xing Yi Quan into Xiang Xing Quan. It is said that Xue once learned from a master Ling Kong in the Wu Tai Mountain. He claimed to be the successor of “Yi Guan Dao”.

At that time, many masters transferred to act as doctors of traditional Chinese medicine. And some turned to develop in orthopaedic field.

In 1956, The All- China Sports Federation officially established The Association of Chinese Material Arts. It was designated as a performance program and set up several groups with Chinese special characteristics. The Association of Chinese Material Art was responsible for managing and arranging all people ever learning in these groups. There were 12 units of Chinese material arts in total. The teaching conception of these groups was to put emphasis on that Tao Lu of keeping a healthy body as well as internal works. Just like Tai Chi--Yang style; Shan Wu, Jian Wu( these two were a sort of dance); Mu Lan Quan, ect.

In 1957, The Association of Chinese Material Arts organized material arts groups in every provinces of China. In 1960, primary schools and junior schools as well as senior high schools throughout China all added Chinese Kung fu to the sports teaching content.

From the beginning of “The Chinese Cultural Revolution” in 1966, Chinese Kung fu was severely destroyed especially some valuable books of Chinese Kung fu. Some staffs related to Chinese Kung fu were also dismissed. During the course of 1966-1982, the development of Chinese Kung fu was nearly at a stagnant conditions. After the Reform and Opening up, particularly in the period of 1983-1986, The National Sports Committee did a widespread survey about Chinese Kung fu, and restarted to arrange new contents of Kung fu.

In 1985, China held the first International Chinese Material arts Tournament in Xi An city and also established a semi-official Union Committee. Some local material arts groups were also set up such as the Jing Wu Sports Institute, The Shaolin Temple, The material arts teaching school in the Wu Dang Mountain, and The Chinese material arts Institute of E Mei sect. The eight (or ten) schools of Chinese Kung fu appeared again.

In 1987, the First Asian Material Arts Tournament was held in Heng Bin city in Japan.

In 1990, Chinese Kung fu was firstly listed as one of programs in the Eleventh Asian Games.

In 1990, The International Material Arts Committee became one of members of The   International Sports Federations, which was a significant symbol of Chinese Kung fu stepping towards the Globe.

20.Chinese Kung fu nowadays on the Chinese continent

The International sports administration of the People's Republic of China had branches of Material Arts Management Center and China’s Material Arts Research Institute. Chinese Material Arts Association---the nationwide public material arts organization, was also one of the branches of The International sports administration of the People's Republic of China. In general, those sports activities were arranged by those organizations. According to those above organizations, Chinese Kung fu ought to turn to sports activities and physical fitness activities.

Besides, they set up International Material Arts Federation to promote Chinese Kung fu and they also think Chinese Kung fu ought to become one of competitive activities which had its own routine and style. Most of them agreed to hold some international tournaments to perform Chinese Kung fu special enchantment on one condition that performers were supposed to conform to its routine(Taolu) and style.

However, later the kind of form was criticized by more people because they thought it looked more like a dance performance without any practical skills than a competitive activity. International Material Arts Federation had 114 member states in total. Since the beginning of the 1980s, Chinese governments tried to promote a series of Sanda movements. To make matters worse, more people criticized Sanda movement was totally not Chinese kung fu. Conversely, it looked more like Tai Quan style and its wrestling style was also different from Chinese Kung fu.

Besides, they set up International Material Arts Federation to promote Chinese Kung fu and they also think Chinese Kung fu ought to become one of competitive activities which had its own routine and style. Most of them agreed to hold some international tournaments to perform Chinese Kung fu special enchantment on one condition that performers were supposed to conform to its routine(Taolu) and style.

However, later the kind of form was criticized by more people because they thought it looked more like a dance performance without any practical skills than a competitive activity. International Material Arts Federation had 114 member states in total. Since the beginning of the 1980s, Chinese governments tried to promote a series of Sanda movements. To make matters worse, more people criticized Sanda movement was totally not Chinese kung fu. Conversely, it looked more like Tai Quan style and its wrestling style was also different from Chinese Kung fu.

21.The schools of Chinese Kung fu

Distinctive Characteristics

That Chinese Kung fu had many different schools was a very rare phenomenon in other areas of the world. It was calculated that there were about 300 types of Chinese Kung fu which had clear development history, unique styles and its own system. The Book The History of Chinese Kung fu pointed that the differentiation between the South and the North in geography, climate and population resulted in many different schools of Chinese Kung fu. Tall people and cold climate in north areas caused the North Quan was strong and powerful while comparatively short and medium height people and sufficient water in the south resulted in the South Quan was soft and delicate. As a saying goes south arms and north legs. Of course, it was not absolute. For instance, Ba Guazhang originated from the north seldom used legs and Wing Chun in the south rarely used legs skills. Chinese Kung fu had many schools but it did not have a uniform name. Some were named by regions( Xin Yi Quan in He Nan province), rivers and mountains (Wu Dang sect), as well as its initial creators(Tai Chi--yang style). In the past, those schools were simply divided into External and Internal.

In 1949, after the Communist party of China became the ruling party, the traditional successive mode and the teaching style in material arts museums were stopped. Only some were allowed to teach in junior and senior schools for keeping fit.

Since the Reform and Opening up, Chinese Kung fu was classified into Taolu and boxing as well as fighting.

22.The distinguished masters of Chinese Kung fu

Bruce Lee (superstar, Jeet Kune Do, Nunchakus), Zhao Xinzhou(Liu He Quan, Liu He Men, Tang Lang Shou), Huo Yuanjia(Mi Zong Quan), Huang Feihong(Hong Quan), Han Qingtang(Chang Quan), Liu Yun Qiang( Bai Ji Quan, Ba Gua Zhang, Liu He Tang Lang Quan), Liu Bai Chuan(Luo Han Quan), Su Heihu( Hei Hu Men), Shao Han Sheng( Cai Li Fo Quan, Hong Quan), He Changhai(Luo Han Quan, Zha Quan), Qu Zheng Qiang(Qi Xing Tang Lang Quan), Li Shu Wen(Ba Ji Quan), Liang Zan, Ye Wen, Liang Ting(Wing Chun), Chen Xiang( Cai Li Fo Quan),Chen Qinghe( Chang Quan, Hong Quan), Jiang Rongqiao(Xing Yi Quan, Ba Gua Zhang), Chen Wangting, Yang Luchan(Tai Chi--Yang style), Zhang Sanfeng(Tai Chi--thirteen styles),Guo Yunsheng(Xing Yi Quan),ect. 

Chinese kung fu Chinese kung fu

23. Three systems of Chinese Kung fu

Chinese Quan Shu was developed into two big systems in the Ming dynasty.

The system of Chang Quan: Bei Quan, including jumping, Da Che Shen( a kind of movement). Because trainers had to practice those movements over and over again, this kind of Quan was named Chang Quan. Up until the Song dynasty, those movements had fully developed, people who wanted to grasp Chang Quan must train those movements very hard. In the Ming dynasty, Hong Quan, Pao Chui, Hua Quan were added into the system of Chang Quan.

The system of Xing Yi Quan( the system of Shaolin Quan): ( Hong Quan, Pao Chui, Hua Quan and Chang Quan), after the Ming dynasty, trainers started to learn some gestures from animals when they were hunting for food. Besides, the phenomena of wild wind, lightning, heavy rain in nature also gave them good points about how to develop and enrich the system of Chinese Kung fu. Then north Liu He Quan, Luo Han Duan Da, and south Hong Quan formed and came into people’s sight. The sorts of Quan contained Wu Quan, Hua Quan and north Liu He Quan, ect. At that time, the Nan Quan started to form a comparatively complete training system. New learners must practice muscles and other parts of body as well as know how to hold the breath. It put emphasis on some fundamental skills, such as learning to protect themselves in use of some flexible movements. At the same time, learners had to pay attention to the coordination of hands and other parts of body.

Chinese kung fu Chinese kung fu

Until the early times of the Qing dynasty, the system of Chang Quan and the system of the Xing Quan mixed and complemented each other and then they developed into a new system of Yi Quan.

The system of Yi Quan( a new set of system, a system of External and a new school of Nan Quan): it simplified the style of the system of Xing Quan and at the same time it reduced the complicated movements of the system of Chang Quan. More importantly, it improved some movements that actually did harm to trainers’ health. Different sects started to form. TaiChi which was prevalent in the Qing dynasty, in essence, was originated from the system of Chang Quan and Wu Xing Ba Gua( a kind of theory of Taoism). In the meantime, Xing Yi Quan was derived from a further understanding of Xing Quan. The above three big systems of Quan was exactly the origin of modern sects of Quan.

Modern sects of Quan included Wing Chun, Da Cheng Quan, Jeet Kune Do, the sect of Wu Dang, and the sect of E Mei.