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Kung Fu

Kung Fu (pinyin: Gong Fu, 功夫 in Chinese) literally means 'hard work' or 'learned skill,' and is often used for the enormous variety of martial arts native to China; the widely accepted idea about the number of distinct styles of Wu Shu in China is that there are currently more than 1000 styles.

A common mistake is that Wushu is another name of Kung Fu. In fact, Wushu means any type of Chinese martial arts but Kung Fu means a specific high level of Wushu. For example, a person is learning a type of Wushu. We can say he learns Wushu but we cannot say he has Kung Fu until he achieves a specific high level.

The term combines Gong (功, a specific high level) and Fu (夫, man). Because the majority of Japanese martial arts were originally from Chinese Wushu, Japanese now still use this word in their native pronunciation of 'Kofu' to describe a building site labourer.

Although it is originally a term used solely in reference to Chinese martial arts, now in many languages it is excellence achieved through long practice in any endeavor. Thus, a cook, woodworker, martial artist, or any other person may exhibit Kung Fu in their activities.

Nowadays, more in non-Chinese environs, it refers generally to Chinese martial arts in general. A more precise term solely for describing the vast variety of Chinese martial art would be the term Wushu, which simply translates into "martial arts" and is commonly used throughout China. However, many Western people misunderstand that Wu Shu is only the 'modernified' government sanctioned martial forms which are more recently standardized for competition and demonstration. Because the name of this government-approved style is also Wu Shu, Kung Fu is the common name for other styles of Martial Art.

Chinese martial arts schools are very diverse. The basic styles can be classified as either External and Internal. The most famous internal style is the smooth constant-flowing Tai Chi Chuan, which translates to Grand Ultimate Fist, and examples of external styles are Wing Chun, which emphasizes short-range punches and blocks, Shaolin Quan with attacks ranging from the quick, explosive, and powerful, to the high-kicking aerial maneuvers which resemble those of Korean Tae Kwon Do.

Chinese martial arts theory often emphasizes the use of the "Qi" (氣, energy), internal styles paying more attention to this than external. Qi is the inner energy that flows through the body and which is also said to be the basis of acupuncture. Ones Qi energy can be improved and strengthened with regular practice of various physical and mental exercises known as Qigong. Kinaesthetic studies of this energy are common, and tend to provide proof that while Qi exists, it is not a supernatural force, but is instead the control of one's true potential.

Many martial arts claim to have originated ultimately from the teachings of Bodhidharma at the Shaolin Buddhist monastery. Researchers regard these claims with considerable skepticism, but the Shaolin Temple, located in the Henan province nearby the city of Deng Feng[?], has of today grown to be one of the largest gathering of Wushu schools[?] in China, with hundreds of schools and over 20,000 practicioners. Much has happened at Shaolin as of late, and the tourism has changed it forever. It has definitely contributed to the popularity of Chinese martial arts, but many dislike its current state, saying that it's not what it used to be. No one can argue against that, but the fact remains that it is a place that gives many people a chance to devote their lives to Chinese martial arts, and a place where tourists can go watch them train, or pay to train themselves for a short period of time, for the better or the worse.

In modern times Chinese martial arts has spawned a popular genre of films. The films of Bruce Lee were instrumental for the initial burst of the martial art's popularity in the West, and lately, actors such as Jet Li and Jackie Chan have appeared in many Western films. This type of martial art films are often referred to as Kung Fu movies (see Martial arts film, Wu Xia film). A cult television series of the early 1970s by that name which starred David Carradine[?] also popularized the martial art on television.



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