Kung fu means accomplishment through effort that comes as a result of hard work or practice. Kung = accomplishment, fu = effort. The term applies to all kinds of expert performance and not just to the martial arts. “Wushu” is a more correct designation of Chinese martial art, but the term “Kung fu” has become popular, and describes a broad spectrum of martial arts practices in which fighting techniques, physical fitness, performance routines and weapons training combine. There are hundreds of Kung fu styles, and attempts to classify them in detail are futile. Nonetheless it is useful to identify our own practice at Kung fu Academy by relating it to some specific aspects of this complex background.
The Shaolin Temple represents a first organized attempt to blend fighting techniques with moral and spiritual principles in an effort to understand violence and to deal with it in ways that best promote the virtues of compassion and peace recommended by Chan Buddhism. The difficulties and significance of this spiritual and moral challenge have remained fascinating until the present day, and at Kung fu Academy we see ourselves as continuing to address this challenge as it was formulated at the ancient Shaolin Temple.
A distinction is often drawn between Northern and Southern styles of Kung fu, perhaps Reflecting the location of the two Shaolin Temples. The Northern style is usually described as hard, concentrating on legs; by contrast, the Southern style is soft, concentrating on hands. It is doubtful if this contrast was in so clear-cut, but distinctions between hard and soft, external and internal are themselves useful, and at Kung fu Academy we attempt to achieve a balance between them, recognizing also that different students might have aptitudes in one or other of these directions.
From the dragon we learn versatility and indomitable spirit in our fighting strategies, The Dragon is the mystical aspect of our system. The dragon can change into any animal at any moment. Using simple, basic techniques with a challenging strategy of movement complementary to the opponent’s (when he advances I retreat, when he retreats I advance) prefers zigzagging motions. the dragon has lots of floating motion and a lot of swinging around and whipping. The dragon is noted for its spinning movements, such as spinning heel and spinning back kicks as well as dragon tail wipes. The practitioner moves with his waist loose and supple, and the style makes use of circular waist movements and hip turning movements. Dragon trains spirit. Low level lunges in all directions are very useful during dragon training.
From the tiger we learn strength and tenacity in our fighting strategies. The tiger is very powerful and direct, Relying on frontal assault, and aggression The tiger commits its entire mind and body into each move. There is no hesitation in the tigers mind. This style simulates lots of breaking, ripping, and tearing. The practitioner uses rigid open hand techniques with fingers curled like claws, and makes use of palm-heel strikes and claw-hand strikes, both swung with downward arcs. The blocking techniques of this style also employs palm-heel blocks and forearm blocks.Finger tips and revolving pushups are helpful during tiger training. Strengthens the bones, muscles, and tendons.
From the crane, we learn grace and balance in our fighting strategies. The crane is very aware and evasive. Many people underestimate the cranes power. It does not have much body weight, but it utilizes it very well and it positions itself effectively. The crane has excellent stances, but understanding of being in the proper position at the proper time is its most valuable tool. This is an open, flowing style. The practitioner shapes his hands like a cranes beak, the style adopts many one legged stances. Blocks are preformed with the backs of the practitioners wrists or with the open hand. It has strong wings and uses them often and effectively. Evading attacks instead of blocking them to increase counter attack speed, confusing the target with many arm sweeps, and moving in to the opponent for a better angle of attack.Trains flexibility. Prefers to work at a distance from the opponent and at angles off line from his attacks. Requires great flexibility for its attacking and aversion techniques. The crane has excellent balance and is very at disturbing the balance of others. One legged kicks and blocks are helpful for crane training.
From the leopard, we learn speed and agility in our fighting strategies. The leopard is extremely fast and angular. It is noted for its sudden changes of movement and varied angles of attack. . More precise than the tiger. Relies on great muscular strength. The Leopard employs many crushing techniques and a lot of internal strikes with the hands. It gets close to do its damage. It concentrates on powerful flattened fist blows (representing the attacks of a leopards paws). Leopard style is a fast, rugged, up close (in your face!) combat style. Hand to eye drills are good foundations for effective leopard techniques. Trains for muscle strength.
From the snake we learn inner strength (chi), and rhythmic endurance, sinuous, weaving combative fighting techniques. The snake is very calm and accurate. The hands, simulating the snakes strikes, are used for fingertip strikes to the targets temples, eyes, throat, and other vital regions. However the style also employs kicks. Flexibility is a key part of the snake training. Don’t neglect upper torso and arm flexibility, not just your legs. The snake is completely supple in body and mind.