What is the relation between Karate and Kung Fu?

Is Karate born from Kung Fu?

Although the relationship between China and Japan has hardly ever been idyllic, it is correct to say that real Karate is strictly related to Kung Fu.

Karate is born from Northern Shaolin and this is easily visible even without any kind of deep historical study. The most visible reason is that basic stances (read The correct position of the rider (ma bu)) and forms are very similar: a thing that does not happen, for example, with the southern styles of Kung Fu (below the Yangtze River).

To be similar does not mean to be equal…

Like any other martial art (worthy of the name), Karate it has developed its specific Way. The point is that everything comes from something (Jeet Kune Do, Krav Maga, 6 Dragons Kung Fu, etc., read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///), but this does not mean that it must be:

  • A second choice
  • A subproduct
  • A copy

A note by Master Kongling – A short historiographical note: it has been during the Ming Dynasty that, between trading relationships and cultural exchanges, the Ryukyu islands have imported (part of) the Chinese martial and science knowledge: from there, the Karate‘s bases have started to evolve.

Is it true that Kung Fu is only soft and that Karate is only rigid in terms of structure?

Absolutely not. Whenever we simplify things by generalizing what appears to be a hired reality, without going into detail, we fall in error (read People who find the differences):

  • There are various styles and approach to Karate and some of them (the less militarized ones), if they are not completely lacking rigidity / straight movements, they have for sure a good part of soft / circular expressions (eg. Goju Ryu Karate)
  • If we also look at the most widespread Karate styles, at first the parries are always characterized by a “strength against strength” approach but in the more advanced levels, they get to do things like deflect, throw, etc.

On the other side, even Kung Fu is not always soft:

  • There are various styles and approach, Hung Gar, for example, is extremely rigid if proportioned to Tai Chi (Taiji)
  • Even here if we look at the most widespread Kung Fu styles (eg. Wing Chun), there are always moments, techniques, etc. that needs a hard structure and straight movements

Is there a real Karate and a fake Karate?

If we are talking about recognized Karate styles, the difference is only on the approach and on the specific goals.

Authentic Karate, in the Japanese meaning, is probably not:

  • The sport version we see in most of the dojo around the world (even if it is absolutely legit)
  • The simplified version learned and stylized by the soldiers from Okinawan and Japanese people

A note by Master Kongling – In my humble opinion, it is real what works for me: not what is older, widespread or sponsored. I am not a historian. I seek for results, no dates (etc.): it is real what helps me (specifically me) to reach my goals (now, not in the stone age).

Is 6 Dragons Kung Fu related to Karate?

Yes, more than it may appear:

  • Firstly for the solid part of our structure (read 6DKF’s interactions: from the strong blow to the light touch); secondly, we implement a lot of techniques, methods and training inspired by Karate (and other Japanese styles)
  • Even about some of the core values, Karate is a big inspiration for us (Bushido, etc.)

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  • Have you ever practiced Karate? Which one?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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