Martial arts: all derive from Kung Fu?

Is it true that all martial arts derive from Shaolin Temple’s Kung Fu?

No. It’s purely false.

The only thing that all martial arts share is the fact that they prepare their practitioners for combat.

Combat has existed since man has appeared on this planet (in every time and everywhere); understood this, it is more than obvious to draw the conclusion that even before the construction of the first Shaolin monastery (the first Shaolin Buddhist Temple was built in 377 AD) there existed an enormous amount of fighting systems:

  • For duels, wars, etc.
  • With weapons, with bare hands, etc.
  • With armors, horses, etc.
  • In groups, one against one, etc.

Is it correct to say that Kung Fu includes all the oriental styles that came after him?

No, it is not.

These are the reasons:

  • There is a difference between copying and getting inspired – Even if Kung Fu can be considered the most influencing martial art of all times and it has provided a great inspiration for many of them (Japanese, Thai, Korean, etc.), it does not completely include even one of them
  • A continuous evolution – Most of these “derived” martial arts schools, even if they have imported (and sometimes badly copied) many of the Shaolin methodologies, have gained (over the time) their own personal stylistic / conceptual directions

Even a middle-low level practitioner can confirm that there are a lot of substantials and clearly identifiable differences.

What is the relationship between Kung Fu and those martial arts that are clearly related to it?

Kung Fu has influenced a big number of martial arts, as yesterday as today: this is undeniable.

This is demonstrated by the fact that:

  • From one side, even all humans have 2 arms and 2 legs, they have always developed techniques of struggle profoundly different (Dambe, Capoeira, etc.) in geographical areas far from the birthplace of Kung Fu (in Africa, Brazil, etc.)
  • From the other side, the closer we get to the Henan province in China (where Shaolin has taken its first steps), the more we find similar settings

Some examples:

  • Kempo
  • Ninjutsu
  • Karate
  • Taekwondo
  • Viet Vo Dao

Again: does this mean that Kung Fu Shaolin includes all these styles? Absolutely not. Each of them has:

  • Chosen on what to focus (legs, fight on the ground, use of weapons, etc.)
  • Decided with what approach perform the techniques (softness, rigidity, etc.)
  • Altered the times, spaces, methods of loadings, hitting parts, etc.

The value of Kung Fu

Kung Fu is one of the biggest and most complete combat systems of all times. It is divided into hundreds and hundreds of different styles, with an infinite number of specializations.

Approaching Kung Fu is an incredible value for each kind / type of practitioner and it is especially in the connection points with the other martial arts where it is possible to identify:

  • A more profound understanding of reasons and objectives of the technical choices of the founders
  • New ways to improve our technique, useful concepts to grow physically and mentally
  • Discover in the details all the limits and potentialities that were previously hidden to us

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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