Kung Fu or Gung-Fu, It's All Chinese Boxing to me!

Wing Chun fighters train with butterfly knives, but Triad street gangs use two meat cleavers.
Wing Chun fighters train with butterfly knives, but Triad street gangs use two meat cleavers.

Kung Fu is not one style of martial art. It’s just the Cantonese way of saying “martial arts” as a whole, rather like they use the term Wushu to describe the highly acrobatic display form of Chinese martial arts.

So there are many different types of gung fu or Chinese Boxing. These include Wing Chun, Shaolin, Pa Kua, Mantis and Monkey styles, to name just a few.

Wing Chun is a southern Chinese style invented by a Chinese nun. Practicioners often work out on a wooden dummy so they can get their blocks and strikes just right. The wooden dummy is unique to Wing Chun (sometimes written as Wing Tsun). This was the original style learned by Bruce Lee, who founded his own style (of no style)… Jeet Kune Do.

Shaolin is a northern style of Chinese boxing. It was developed by the Shaolin Monks of the famous Shao Lin Temple. These guys now tour the world and demonstrate some amazing skills, such as standing still and taking a full-on kick to the groin without flinching.

Pa Kua is a so-called ‘Internal’ style of martial art. It uses Chi (Ki) energy and goes with the flow, very much like Aikido does.

Mantis is (obviously) an Animal style of gungfu. Practicioners hold their arms out in a stance like a preying mantis insect.

With Monkey style, the kungfu artist crouches and jumps and leaps like a cheeky monkey while he is fighting. This is very confusing to anyone who has never seen it before.

There is even a “Drunken” style of Chinese boxing. Here the fighter sways back and forth like a drunk man trying to keep his balance as the room spins all around him. Again, it is confusing and disconcerting for anyone facing it for the first time.

Chinese martial arts styles also make use of an amazing variety of weapons. These include knives, swords, cudgels, two-section and three-section staffs, chains, whips, spears, halberds and darts.

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