The survival of authentic kung fu

Venerable Hai Deng, who was famous for his One Finger Zen skill, was the last abbot of the Shaolin temple who advocated traditional kung fu training. After he left the Shaolin temple in the 1960's, the focus of the Shaolin temple gradually shifted towards demonstration wushu rather than martial arts. Image reproduced from www.shaolin.org

Venerable Hai Deng, who was famous for his One Finger Zen skill, was the last abbot of the Shaolin temple who advocated traditional kung fu training. After he resigned in the 1960’s, the focus of the Shaolin temple gradually shifted towards demonstration wushu rather than traditional kung fu. Image reproduced from http://www.shaolin.org

Many kung fu practitioners have heard of the Cultural Revolution in China which led to the death or exile of many practitioners of traditional arts, including kung fu. In fact, many people have the mistaken belief that no authentic kung fu exists anymore!

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Northern or Southern, Internal or External?

Baguazhang, demonstrated here by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, is often considered an internal style of kung fu. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Baguazhang, demonstrated here by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, is often considered an internal style of kung fu. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

Someone asked the very good question of what kung fu system would be best for them. Naturally, this is informed by many factors such as what you want to get out of kung fu, what you are willing to put up with, if a master is willing and able to teach you, etc. Here is what I replied with:

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Developing and exploding force in kung fu

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit teaching the horse riding stance, perhaps the most important and fundamental exercise in all of kung fu. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit teaching the horse riding stance, perhaps the most important and fundamental exercise in all of kung fu. Force must be developed before it can be used for combat. You wouldn’t try shooting an empty gun, would you? Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

A discussion on the G+ forums back in 2013 May led to the subject of fa jing, or “exploding force.” This is the usual term used by kung fu practitioners to describe manifesting their force in various ways, usually an explosive or powerful strike.

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Experience at the Chicago branch of the Shaolin Temple

The logo of the Chicago branch of the Shaolin temple. Image taken from  http://www.shaolintemplechicago.com/

The logo of the Chicago branch of the Shaolin temple. Image taken from http://www.shaolintemplechicago.com/

On Sunday, 2013 July 7, I learnt that a branch of the Shaolin temple exists in Chicago, IL. Being a little bit of a kung fu nut, I decided to take a look and see how they operated on 2013 July 8. According to the schedule on their website, they hold a morning kung fu class for adults, so that’s the one I attended (thank you, summer vacation). The schedule also had kung fu classes for children and teenagers, as well as a san da (Chinese kick-boxing) and qigong class. Their weekend schedule also includes a qin-na (grips and locks) class as well as a free and open-to-the-public sitting meditation class.

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Is Wushu the same as Kung Fu?

Wushu literally means, in Mandarin, “martial art.” But many practitioners of traditional kung fu do not believe that wushu artists are martial artists. What gives? What do wushu people do that is different from kung fu people? Is there a difference? Keep reading to find out!

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