The translation of the Chinese character Kung Fu is “ Hard Work “. It is something accomplished through arduous study, dedication and the application of discipline. This character has been attached to Chinese martial arts and is a catch all phrase for many different Chinese systems. Perhaps the most well known is Shaolin Chuan.
Shaolin Kung Fu was originally developed as exercise to ward off the torpor and poor physical health of Buddhist monks at the Shaolin Temple in central China. During the Ching dynasty(1644-1911) the overthrown faithful of the Ming dynasty became rebels seeking to regain control of China. These rebels often sought refuge with the monks. The Shaolin exercises cross bred with the fighting skills of the disinherited elite fighters, eventually producing the well rounded art of physical prowess and self defense. Shaolin gained notoriety in this country when it was showcased in the popular TV series “Kung Fu” starring David Carradine.
Shaolin is characterized by long, stretched out postures. Punching and kicking are commonplace and the sets are performed with a lively tempo often encompassing leaps and low stances.
Chinese Society was certainly the most influential in Asia prior to modern times. The spread of martial arts throughout Asia can be traced to China and Shaolin.