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What is Kung Fu

Kung Fu, meaning: the acquisition of skill through hard work and effort, usually refers to Chinese Martial Arts.

Legend has it that a travelling Yogi from India called The Bodidhama visited the Buddhist monks in China and saw that their humble life had made them weak and unhealthy so wicked folk would take advantage of them. He taught them to praise Buddha through Yoga's stretching and strengthening of the physical body, plus powerful breathing techniques to enhance meditation for the mind. The monks became strong, tough and flexible; no longer would the wicked people be able to take what little they had, Shaolin Kung Fu had arrived.

The Monks found that their observations of different animals' movement and character could be imitated in their Kung Fu, giving them previously unimaginable skills and bringing them spiritually closer to nature. To this day, Shaolin Kung Fu is still practised primarily as form of Buddhism, and Tai Chi by Taoists. Kung Fu is also practised by millions of people from all walks of life across the world!

As well as Wing Chun there are many different styles of Kung Fu that have evolved over the years, some based on the original Shaolin animals, some include principles of Tai Chi and its boxing methods, some have been kept secret within families for centuries but they all have a common core: Hard Work and Effort!

Kung Fu can be applied to any skill, knitting, driving, swimming... you get the picture. The principle is that if you practice hard and work to improve yourself with the correct intent then you can achieve anything.

So what of 'Correct Intent'?

This means that you only become what you practice being e.g. if I practice running long distance then I will eventually become a long distance runner, but if I want to run marathons and practice by sprinting 100 meters 20 times a day then I may have good Kung Fu but my intent is incorrect. This is a universal truth of Kung Fu, if I don't focus my Martial Arts training around combative skills then I will find it difficult to adapt it to self defence. This doesn't mean that there is only one way to do things, good Kung Fu may help you to find what you are really looking for in life. Being a hard worker and learning to serve others will show you the pathway you may have never even considered, practising calligraphy with good Kung Fu could teach you to become a better communicator, good cooking Kung Fu might lead you into Martial Arts. This may not make sense to read but try to understand, there is always another way, a different way to perceive your world, has your perception never changed as the world changes around you? Do you want the same things today as you did ten years ago? Have you changed as a person or have you just grown, wiser and more mature?

You are the same person you were on the day you were born but you have learned, you have learned from experience, relationships, you learn from your mistakes, you learn things about yourself.

It is through hard work and service that we find out who we really are, if we learn to be honest with ourselves then knitters, drivers, swimmers... and the rest, become true Kung Fu Warriors.

© Leeds Wing Chun 2013