According to legend, Chinese Martial Arts History in 2600 B.C. – Kung Fu (Bruce Lee) and Wu Shu
According to legend, Chinese Martial Arts History in 2600 B.C. – Kung Fu (Bruce Lee) and Wu Shu

According to legend, Chinese Martial Arts History in 2600 B.C. – Kung Fu (Bruce Lee) and Wu Shu

Asia is considered the hub of the world of martial arts by many people. In 2600 B.C., China became the hub of the universe of martial arts. Emperor Huang Di, who ruled China more than 4000 years ago, was a wrestling and pole-fighting master. He required that his troops learn martial arts. Around 770 B.C., Mongolian tribesmen introduced skull-bashing wrestling to China.

The use of Kung Fu has been found in record history as far back as 2674 B.C. when the Yellow Emperor (Huang Ti) used forms of it in a battle of that time. Some masters believe that this form of exercise dates back even further than this. Students of Kung Fu or Wu Shu were highly skilled in the Martial Arts, well versed in Taoist thought, able to play at least one musical instrument and had a knowledge of Alchemy and chemistry.  In the beginning of 6th century Buddhists monks began using a system of exercises developed by Doctor Hua Tuo taught observation of tiger, deer, and bird, in their Shaolin Monastery in the province of Henan. They referred to these exercises as Kung Fu or Shaolin Chuan.

Graduation from a Shaolin temple was a true test indeed. The young monk was required to pass three very difficult tests in this order.

1. There was a rigorous oral examination on the theory and history of the art.
2. Combat with a number of more highly trained monks.
3. Finally, a journey through a dangerous labyrinth.

This labyrinth consisted of 108 mechanized dummies armed with wooden fists, razor sharp spears and knives, and a wide assortment of other weapons, deep pits and rats.  If the young monk survived this ordeal and got through the end of the maze. He would be confronted by a door blocked by a 50 pounds of burn of smoldering coals. He would have to move the urn by hugging it with his forearms, lifting it and moving it aside.  In doing so he was branded with his right arms with a dragon and his left with a tiger which he would carry with him the rest of his life.

Chinese martial arts spread to Asia Minor, Europe, and India in 500 B.C. via the Silk Road. However, despite the rich history of martial arts in China, modern day martial arts originated in 527 A.D in India. Indian monk Ta Mo taught the monks of the Shaolin Temple the 18 Buddhist Fists, which turned into the Five Animal Styles of Shaolin. The influence of Tao Mo has impacted both Chinese and non-Chinese arts.

Special Note:
The Shaolin forearm branding urn is a fictional device that was used in the TV series Kung Fu to mark the arms of the main character with a dragon and a tiger. It is not a real tradition of the Shaolin temple or any martial arts school. However, there is a real practice called Jieba, which involves branding patterns of dots onto the shaved heads of the monks by placing sticks or cones of incense on them and letting them burn down to the skin. This practice is now rare and optional.

The weight of the Shaolin forearm branding urn is not specified, but it is likely to be very heavy, since it is supposed to be filled with hot coals and require great strength and endurance to lift and move it. A possible estimate could be based on the weight of a similar-sized metal cauldron, which could be around 50 kg depending on the material and size.

Are Wu Shu and Kung Fu the same thing?
Wu Shu and Kung Fu are both terms that refer to Chinese martial arts, but they have different meanings and origins. Wu Shu means martial arts in general, while Kung Fu means skills that are acquired with time and effort. Kung Fu became more known in the west because of Bruce Lee, who used the term to describe his fighting style. Wu Shu is also a contemporary sport that the Chinese authorities are trying to get included in summer Olympics. Kung Fu is more traditional and focuses on fighting and self-defense.

Which one is better for self-defense? 
Kung Fu is generally better for self-defense than Wu Shu, because Kung Fu focuses more on fighting and self-defense, whereas Wu Shu is more about performance and aesthetics. Kung Fu also has more traditional and practical forms that can be applied in real situations, while Wu Shu has more modern and flashy forms that are mainly for show. However, this does not mean that Wu Shu is useless for self-defense, as it still teaches some basic skills and techniques that can be useful in some situations. Ultimately, the effectiveness of any martial art depends on the practitioner’s training, experience, and mindset.

It is commonly said that there are 72 arts of Shaolin Kung Fu. These 72 arts are sometimes divided into two groups, namely 36 external arts and 36 internal arts, or 36 “hard” arts and 36 “soft” arts.

There are four generally known styles, which emphasize Qi development more seriously than other styles, and are therefore considered internal. These four styles are Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, Baguazhang, and Liu He Ba Fa.

Kung Fu Substyles
Due to the rich and long history of Chinese martial arts, there are over 400 substyles of kung Fu. The northern styles, such as Shaolin Kung Fu, tend to put a level of importance on kicks and wide stances. The southern styles are more about the utilization of the hands and narrower stances.

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