EXPLORE THE STYLE
Temple Kung Fu blends traditional Shaolin Kung Fu with modern Chinese Kenpo...
Kung Fu, also known as "Ch'uan Fa" in China, is an ancient self-defense and spiritual discipline.
Many consider Kung Fu to be the original martial art because other styles such as Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, and Tae Kwon Do all trace their origins to Chinese Kung Fu and the legendary Shaolin Temple.
However, it is a misnomer to refer to all Kung Fu as a unique discipline because, in reality, it encompasses hundreds, if not thousands, of unique martial arts styles of Chinese origin. Generally speaking, there are three categories of Kung Fu and two paradigms of training.
One classification of Kung Fu styles is those that originate within a particular family or clan. Styles such as Hung Gar (Hung Family), Choy Gar, and Mok Gar are among the more famous family styles.
The famous Shaolin Temple was famous for producing some of the most fierce warrior-monks and fighting styles. Styles such as White Crane, Praying Mantis, and Five Animal Kung Fu are widely recognized Shaolin styles. However, there are literally hundreds of styles that 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, when one encounters a martial art named something like Drunken Monkey or Black Tiger, it 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 the use of names that imply certain natural laws, which is a common theme 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 that is 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 the use of 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 a tremendous amount of 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 very 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 both hard and soft styles, a student can advance more rapidly than by practicing one aspect alone.
As a Temple style, it draws equally on Shaolin and Taoist sources to offer the greatest flexibility and balance in your training.
Up next, you will learn about the spiritual dimension of training that makes one's practice a way of life and not simply a pastime.