TEMPLE KUNG FU ORIGINS
Temple Kung Fu, originating from the Northern and Southern Shaolin Temples, is renowned for its grace, precision, and fluidity of movement. With a history spanning centuries, it is a descendant of the 5-animal styles and has captivated practitioners and spectators alike with its unique techniques and philosophical underpinnings. Whether you are a beginner exploring the vast realm of martial arts or an experienced practitioner seeking to deepen your skills, Temple Kung Fu offers a profound and enriching journey. Let's delve into the essence of this beautiful art and discover the secrets of its beauty and power.
Kung Fu, also known as "Ch'uan Fa" in China, is an ancient self-defense and spiritual discipline.
Many consider Kung Fu the original martial art because other styles such as Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, and Tae Kwon Do all trace their origins to Chinese Kung Fu.
However, it is a misnomer to refer to Kung Fu as a unique style because, in reality, it encompasses hundreds, if not thousands, of unique martial arts styles of Chinese origin. Generally speaking, there are three Kung Fu categories and two training paradigms.
One classification of Kung Fu styles is those that originate within a particular family or clan. Hung Gar (Hung Family), Choy Gar, and Mok Gar are among the more famous family styles.
Shaolin Temple was famous for producing some of the most fierce warrior monks and fighting styles. White Crane, Praying Mantis, and Five Animal Kung Fu are widely recognized Shaolin styles. However, hundreds of styles come under the Shaolin mantle.
More often than not, Shaolin styles are imitative and derive their nature and name from observing the defense styles of various animals. Therefore, encountering a martial art named something like Drunken Monkey or Black Tiger likely originates from the Shaolin Temple.
At their core, Shaolin temples were Buddhist monasteries. Concurrent with these were Taoist temples with names like The White Cloud Monastery or Omei Shan Ssu (Omei mountain temple).
Although not a hard-fast rule, most Taoist-influenced martial arts styles employ names that imply certain natural forces, or philosophical themes, which is common in Taoist philosophy.
Styles such as Eight Trigrams Palm, Grand Ultimate Fist (Tai Chi Ch'uan), or Five Element Fist are examples of Taoist-influenced naming conventions.
HARD vs. SOFT
One further distinction often made when describing the nature of a particular style is whether it is a hard style or a soft style. Generally speaking, a hard style emphasizes physical strength and power, known as "jing." In contrast, a soft style (or internal style) emphasizes fluidity and using one's internal energy, known as "chi."
The application of the terms hard or soft may be overly simplistic in some circumstances because none of the Chinese martial arts are exclusively either, and it is generally recognized that although a style may emphasize the hard approach, in the beginning, it invariably emphasizes softness as a student advances. The inverse is also true, for the impact of a 'soft' style can exhibit tremendous power when performed by a master of the internal arts.
A BALANCED APPROACH
Traditional Chinese Kung Fu is known for its many exotic forms (note: a 'form' is a series of prearranged movements, similar to a "kata" in Japanese martial arts).
Forms range in difficulty from very basic to very advanced. In addition to single-person forms intended to be practiced by oneself, there are also two-person forms meant to be performed with a partner and numerous weapons forms. In the Temple Kung Fu tradition, a student must become proficient in 108 forms to be considered a master of the discipline!
Forms are instrumental in teaching continuous movement, timing, and endurance but are often impractical when it comes to immediate application. It generally takes many years for a student that only practices forms to become proficient in self-defense.
For this reason, Temple Kung Fu incorporates the self-defense techniques found in Chinese Kenpo into its curriculum. From your first lesson, you will learn practical self-defense techniques that you can use immediately should the need arise.
Temple Kung Fu is neither a hard style nor a soft style; it is both. We believe that balance is the key to success and that by practicing hard and soft styles, a student can advance more rapidly than by practicing one aspect alone.
Temple Kung Fu draws equally on Shaolin and Taoist sources to offer the greatest flexibility and balance in your training.