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Encyclopedia > Kung fu
It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with wushu. (Discuss)
It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Chinese martial arts. (Discuss)
For the television program, see Kung Fu (TV series). For the Nintendo Entertainment System video game, see Kung Fu (video game).

Kung fu or gongfu (功夫, Pinyin: gōngfu) is a well-known Chinese term often used to refer to Chinese martial arts. Its original meaning is somewhat different, referring to one's expertise in any skill, not necessarily martial. Many consider wushu a better term for Chinese martial arts, as it translates directly into martial art. In China, the term kuoshu, meaning national art, is also used. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Kung fu. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Kung fu. ... Kung Fu is a television series that ran for three years beginning in 1972, about the adventures of a Shaolin monk in the Wild West armed only with his skill in martial arts. ... The Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, is an 8-bit video game console released by Nintendo in North America, Brazil, Europe, Asia, and Australia. ... // History Main article: History of computer and video games The first primitive computer and video games were developed in the 1950s and 1960s and ran on platforms such as oscilloscopes, university mainframes and EDSAC computers. ... Kung Fu was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985. ... Pinyin (Chinese: 拼音, pÄ«nyÄ«n) literally means join (together) sounds (a less literal translation being phoneticize, spell or transcription) in Chinese and usually refers to HànyÇ” PÄ«nyÄ«n (汉语拼音, literal meaning: Han language pinyin), which is a system of romanization (phonemic notation and transcription to Roman script) for Standard... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Kung fu. ... A skill is an ability, usually learned, to perform actions. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Kung fu. ... Wushu (武術 or 武术; pinyin: wǔshù) literally means martial art. It is the correct term for the more commonly known but misused term kung fu, which roughly translates to skill and refers specifically to the energy, feeling and effort expended in doing or making something. ...



The term kung fu was not popular until the 20th century, thus the word would be seldom found in any ancient texts. The term was first known to have been reported by a Westerner, French Jesuit missionary Jean Joseph Marie Amiot, in the 18th century and was known little in the mainstream English language until approximately the late 1960s, when it became popular because of the Hong Kong films, especially those by Bruce Lee, and later Kung Fu - the television series. Before that it was referred to primarily as "Chinese boxing". Kung Fu, as it is written here, refers to the general term of Chinese martial arts. Shaolin Kung Fu refers to the style that was developed in the Shaolin temples. (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999 in the... The Society of Jesus (Societas Iesu/Jesu (S.J.) in Latin) is a Christian religious order of the Roman Catholic Church in direct service to the Pope. ... A missionary is a propagator of religion, often an evangelist or other representative of a religious community who works among those outside of that community. ... Jean Joseph Marie Amiot (1718 - 1793), a French Jesuit missionary, was born at Toulon in February 1718. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Martial arts film is a film genre that originated in the Pacific Rim. ... Bruce Lee. ... Kung Fu is a television series that ran for three years beginning in 1972, about the adventures of a Shaolin monk in the Wild West armed only with his skill in martial arts. ... Shaolin kung fu (Chinese: 少林功夫; pinyin: ; literally Shaolin skills), or to use more exact terms, Shàolínquán (Chinese: 少林拳; literally Shaolin fist) or Shàolín wÇ”shù (Traditional Chinese: 少林武術; literally Shaolin martial arts), are those Chinese martial arts that trace their origins to Shaolin, be it the Chan Buddhist...

The oldest evidence of Kung Fu, or Chinese martial arts goes back to the Zhou dynasty (1111-255 BC). There are passages in the Zhuang Zi (AKA Chuang Tzu) that clearly pertain to the psychology and practice of martial arts. The Tao Te Ching by Lao Zi contains many principles that are applicable to martial arts, and is similar in point of view to the Sun Zi Bing Fa (Sun Zi's Art of War) which deals directly with martial arts. History says that Zhuang Zi lived during the reign of King Hui of Liang and King Xuan of Qi, which means that he must have lived within the span from 370 B.C. to 301 B.C. The dates of the author of the Tao Te Ching are less clear. Tradition assigns him to a time earlier than Zhuang Zi, but the evidence indicates that the book itself was written down later than the time of Zhuang Zi. The Chinese writing system traces back to the dynasty that preceded the Zhou, the Shang (traditional dates 1766 BC - 1122 BC), so claims of entire books being written at even earlier times are strongly suspect. The Tao Te Ching (道德經, Pinyin: D Jīng, thus sometimes rendered in recent works as Dao De Jing; archaic pre-Wade-Giles rendering: Tao Teh Ching; roughly translated as The Book of the Way and its Virtue (see dedicated chapter below on translating the title)) is an ancient Chinese scripture... Lao Zi (Chinese 老子, also spelled Laozi, Lao Tzu, or Lao Tse) is a major figure in Chinese philosophy whose historical existence is debated. ... Sun Tzu (孫子 also commonly written in pinyin: Sūn Zǐ) was the author of The Art of War, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy (for the most part not dealing directly with tactics). ... The Art of War (Chinese: 孫子兵法 sūn zi bīng fǎ) was a Chinese military text written during the 6th century BC by Sun Tzu. ... // The Person Zhuāng Zǐ (pinyin), Chuang Tzu (W-G), or Chuang Tse (Chinese 莊子, literally meaning Master Zhuang) was a famous philosopher in ancient China who lived around the 4th century BC during the Warring States Period, corresponding to the Hundred Schools of Thought philosophical summit of Chinese thought. ...

According to some traditions, however, the first written history of Chinese martial arts comes from the reign of the legendary Yellow Emperor (traditional date of ascension to the throne, 2698 BC). The Yellow Emperor is described as a famous military general, who, before becoming China’s leader, wrote a lengthy treatise about martial arts. He is also credited with being the founder of China’s oldest known martial art – chang quan (long fist). Furthermore, Taoist monks are claimed to have been practicing physical exercises that resemble Tai Chi (or a soft form of Kung fu) at least as early as the 500 B.C. era. In 39-92 A.D. , "Six Chapters of Hand Fighting", were included in the Han Shu (history of the Former Han Dynasty) written by Pan Ku. Also, the noted physician, Hua T'uo, is said to have composed the "Five Animals Play" - tiger, deer, monkey, bear, and bird, around 220 A.D. As stated earlier, the Kung Fu that is practiced today developed over the centuries and many of the later additions to Kung Fu, such as the Shaolin Kung Fu style, later animal forms, and the drunken style were incorporated from various martial arts forms that came into existence later on in China and have accurate historical data relating to their inventors. Yellow Emperor The Yellow Emperor or Huang Di (Chinese: 黃帝, Simplified Chinese: 黄帝, pÄ«nyÄ«n: huángdì) is a legendary Chinese sovereign and cultural hero who is said to be the ancestor of all Han Chinese. ...

Today, popular kung fu styles include Bagua Zhang (Pa Kua Chang), Choy Li Fut, Drunken boxing, Eagle Claw Kung Fu, Hsing I (Xing Yi), Hung Gar (Hongjia), Lau Gar, Shuai Chiao (Shuaijiao), Monkey Kung Fu, Praying Mantis Kung Fu (Tanglang Quan), Shaolin, White Crane, Wing Chun and T'ai Chi Ch'uan. BāguàzhÇŽng is one of the three major internal Chinese martial arts, the other two being Xingyiquan (形意拳) and Taijiquan (太極拳). BāguàzhÇŽng literally means eight trigram palm, referring to the trigrams of the Yijing, one of the canons of Taoism. ... Choy Lay Fut, Choy Li Fut, Choy Lee Fut or Tsai Li Fo, (蔡李佛) is a Chinese martial art developed by Grandmaster Chan Heung (陳享) in 1836 at King Mui, and is highly popular in Hong Kong. ... Zuijiuquan (醉酒拳), commonly known as Drunken Boxing or Drunken Fist, but also translated as Drunkards Boxing, is a southern style of Wushu that imitates a drunkard in its movements. ... The traditional Chinese martial art known as Eagle Claw (Ying Jow Pai) is one of the oldest and most complex of the surviving Northern Shaolin kung fu systems. ... Xingyiquan (Chinese: 形意拳; pinyin: Over the centuries, many different variations of the art have evolved, so significant portions of the following article may not apply to every extant style of Xingyiquan Xingyiquan (or Xingyi) claims to specialize in deceptively soft, linear, low attacks and quick yet solid footwork appropriate for the... Hung Gar, also called Hung Kuen, is a southern Chinese martial art associated with the Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-Hung, who was a master of Hung Gar. ... Lau Gar is one of the five most known southern Chinese style of Kung Fu. ... Shuaijiao (Chinese: 摔跤 or 摔角; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Shuai-chiao) is the modern term for Chinese and Mongolian wrestling. ... This article contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ... Tanglang Quan (螳螂拳) was created by Wang Lang inspired by the insects aggressiveness against its opponents. ... For the style associated with Gu Ruzhang, see Northern Shaolin (martial art). ... White Crane Kung Fu (白鶴拳; pinyin: bái hé quán; Hokkien: pek hok kun) is one of the original five animals of Shaolin Quan and one of the styles that constitute Five Ancestors Fist. ... Wing Chun (Chinese: 詠春; pinyin: ; Yale Cantonese: wing2 cheun1), also romanized Ving Tsun, is a system of Chinese martial arts with an emphasis on unarmed close-range fighting, although its curriculum includes weapons and techniques suitable for various ranges. ... Tai Chi Chuan or Taijiquan (Chinese: 太極拳; pinyin: ; literally supreme ultimate fist), commonly known as Tai Chi, Tai Chi, or Taiji, is a nei chia (internal) Chinese martial art which is known for the claims of health and longevity benefits made by its practitioners and in some...


Part of the confusion around this term comes from the many ways the Chinese characters 功夫 can be romanized, as Chinese romanization systems have evolved much in the past years. Technical note: Due to technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this article. ... A romanization or latinization is a system for representing a word or language with the Roman (Latin) alphabet, where the original word or language used a different writing system. ...

Here are some of the most common versions in use today:

  • Kung fu is undoubtedly the most widely spread. It uses the Wade-Giles romanization system; a system that many consider obsolete today.
  • Gongfu is the Hanyu Pinyin romanization. With tones included this would be written gōngfu. Even though Pinyin is currently the official system of romanization of the People's Republic of China, the spelling "gongfu" is not widely used. Pinyin is, however, a popular system used for many other similar Chinese terms, such as Qigong (instead of Ch'i Kung in Wade-Giles).
  • Gungfu or gung fu is a Cantonese version using Yale romanization, sans tone marks. This spelling was made popular by Bruce Lee during the 1970s.

Wade-Giles, sometimes abbreviated Wade, is a Romanization (phonetic notation and transliteration) system for the Chinese language based on Mandarin. ... Pinyin (拼音, Pīnyīn) literally means join (together) sounds (a less literal translation being phoneticize, spell or transcription) in Chinese and usually refers to Hànyǔ Pīnyīn (汉语拼音, literal meaning: Han language pinyin), which is a system of romanization (phonetic notation and transliteration to roman script) for Standard Mandarin used in the... Qigong (Simplified Chinese: 气功; Traditional Chinese: 氣功; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: chi4 kung1) is an increasingly popular aspect of Chinese medicine involving the coordination of different breathing patterns with various physical postures and motions of the body. ... Cantonese (Traditional Chinese: 粵語; Simplified Chinese: 粤语, Cantonese: Yuet6yue5; Mandarin pinyin: Yueyu, Yụet (Guangdong) language) is one of the major dialect groups or languages of the Chinese language or language family. ... The Yale Romanizations are four systems created during World War II by the United States for its soldiers. ... Bruce Lee. ... The 1970s in its most obvious sense refers to the decade between 1970 and 1979. ...

Translation and usage

Nowadays, the most common use of the term kung fu is when referring to Chinese martial arts in general. Thus, when someone says they train kung fu, they likely mean they train in one of the many styles of Chinese martial arts. The original meaning of kung fu is quite different, and is hard to translate as there is no English equivalent. In short, 功夫 (gōngfu) means "achievement through great effort" or simply virtue. It combines 功 (gōng) meaning achievement or merit, and 夫 (fū) which translates into man. In Mandarin, when two "first tone" words such as gōng and are combined, the second word often takes a neutral tone, in this case forming gōngfu. Mandarin, or Guanhua (Traditional Chinese: 官話; Simplified Chinese: 官话; pinyin: ; literally official speech), or Beifanghua (Traditional Chinese: 北方話; Simplified Chinese: 北方话; pinyin: â–¶(?)]; literally Northern speech) is a category of related Chinese dialects spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. ... Tone refers to the use of pitch in language to distinguish words. ...

Originally, to practice kung fu did not just mean to practice Chinese martial arts. Instead, it referred to the process of one's training - the strengthening of the body and the mind, the learning and the perfection of one's skills - rather than to what was being trained. It refers to excellence achieved through long practice in any endeavor. You can say that a person's kung fu is good in cooking, or that someone has kung fu in calligraphy; saying that a person possesses kung fu in an area implies skill in that area, which they have worked hard to develop. Someone with "bad kung fu" simply has not put enough time and effort into training, or seems to lack the motivation to do so. Kung fu is also a name used for the elaborate Fujian tea ceremony (Kung-fu cha). Cooking is the act of preparing food for consumption. ... Calligraphy in a Latin Bible of AD 1407 on display in Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, England. ... The Fujian tea ceremony (Chinese: 功夫茶; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Kung-fu cha), is a specific way of preparing tea -- specifically oolong, although sometimes used also for black teas. ...

There is a curious contemporary twist on this meaning in the hacker culture: there the fu has been generalized to a suffix, implying that the thing suffixed involves great skill or effort. For example, one may talk of "script-fu" to refer to complicated scripting. It is unknown whether this was consciously based on the original, broader meaning of the term or whether it was a simple wordplay on the less general Western notion of "kung fu". The hacker culture is the voluntary subculture which first developed in the 1960s among hackers working on early minicomputers in academic computer science environments. ... Fù (T: 賦 S: 赋) is one of the earliest styles of Chinese poems dating back to the Han Dynasty. ... Scripting programming languages (commonly called scripting languages or script languages) are computer programming languages designed for scripting the operation of a computer. ...

In Japanese, the characters 工夫 are read 'kufū' and refer to a resourceful method devised to achieve a particular result. Another meaning is to engage in Buddhist training, especially Zazen. When read 'kōfu', the same characters refer to a building site laborer. The characters for Kung Fu (功夫) have carried over the Chinese pronunciation and is read as 'kanfū' (カンフー), although Taiji styles are referred to as 'taikyokuken' (太極拳、たいきょくけん). Chinese martial arts can also be referred to as 'Chūgokuken'(中国拳) or 'Chūgokukempō,'(中国拳法) which translates as 'Chinese boxing.' Kodo Sawaki practicing zazen Zazen is at the heart of Zen Buddhist practice. ...

In Korean, the characters are read as 'gongbu' (공부), and simply mean 'study'. The different meanings associated with the same character-based words in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean shows that, contrary to popular belief, just because you can read Chinese characters, it does not mean you can understand all three languages.


There are various philosophies around the term kung fu, suggesting a deeper meaning. The following is an example of such a philosophy: These five broad types of question are called analytical or logical, epistemological, ethical, metaphysical, and aesthetic respectively. ...

For a process to truly be kung fu, the following three elements must be present:

  • Motivation
  • Self-discipline
  • Time

Motivation is the basic driving force, and without it, kung fu can never be reached. It means both interest and the will to do something; a person who is forced to do something is not truly motivated. A motivated person, on the other hand, has interest in learning: they have a goal.

It is important to note a difference between the various types of motivation: A person can be motivated to do something, because if they do not they will be punished. Money can also lead to motivation, because you know that doing something will give you more money. However, the motivation kung fu comes from an interest and an inner desire to learn and develop, in which the goal is not an external gain, like avoiding punishment or earning money, but an internal one, with the only reward being knowledge, skill, strength and wisdom. This motivation can be inspired, but not controlled, by other people.

Self-discipline is closely related to motivation, but refers to the effort and patience required to actually get something done, and to get past obstacles that might appear on the way towards one's goal. While motivation is the mental state of wanting to do something, discipline is required to put motivation into action: A person might want to do something very much, but lacks the required amount of discipline to get started. Without this, motivation will lead to nothing.

It is true that a competent instructor can assist a person by providing discipline, helping that person to get past obstacles. This is good, but will not last forever, and in the end, it is always up to the person herself to put her thoughts into action.

Time is essential for finding one's motivation and self-discipline, and to actually accomplish something by making use of them, but motivation and self-discipline are also important to make a person willing to put time into accomplishing their goal: to prioritize.

In later stages, once motivation and discipline have become an integral part of a person's life, it is important not to stop spending time on practice. This is said to be a very important aspect of kung fu: Many ancient Chinese philosophers and martial artists consider time the most valuable commodity in a person's lives, as time cannot be replaced. It is said that one should use time wisely, and that, to get the most out of life, must practice kung fu in every activity. By finding interest in and putting effort and time into every action, one will make the best use of time, and live a happy and productive life. A philosopher is a person devoted to studying and producing results in philosophy. ...

See also

Fù (T: 賦 S: 赋) is one of the earliest styles of Chinese poems dating back to the Han Dynasty. ... Hawaiian State Grappling Championships. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Kung Fu: Definition & Origin (955 words)
Kung fu is work and requires skill, although martial prowess is not necessarily the goal.
Kung fu remains a popular term in America thanks to the plethora of kung fu films that have been distributed here since the early seventies.
The origin of kung fu begins with the legend of a monk named Bodhidharma (also known as Ta Mo) who traveled from India to China around 500 A.D. It is said that he visited Shaolin monks in the Hunan Province.
Shaolin Kung Fu, Qigong and Zen Home Page (2379 words)
It is time-costly to spend five years learning Kung Fu patterns to be thrown away to the winds in a competition ring, and settle for karate or taekwondo techniques which they have hardly trained enough.
The Kung Fu exponent withdraws his front leg diagonally backward, thus avoiding the kick, and simultaneously strikes the attacking leg to fracture it, in a pattern known as "Lohan Strikes a Drum".
In other words, a Kung Fu student may know the beautiful form of fighting techniques, but if he has no striking power, is slow, confused and panicky, he is likely to be beaten by an ordinary street-fighter who knows no martial art.
  More results at FactBites »



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