Comparing Styles of Kung Fu

Originated 1500 Years Ago

Kung Fu Training

"Be neither for nor against. For and against opposing each other - this is the mind's disease. Without recognizing the mysterious principle, it is useless to practice quietude." - Seng Ts'an (second generation student of Bodhidharma who originated Shaolin Kung Fu)

Bodhidharma by Hakuin

Developed Shaolin - Artwork by Hakuin, great Japanese Zen Master

Shaolin Kung Fu originated in the year 500 by a meditation master from India known as Bodhidharma. He noticed his monks needed exercise for health, and eventually a self defense aspect was employed. over the 1500+ years since its origin, kung fu has grown in many directions, spawning numerous styles such as Praying Mantis, Eagle Claw, Monkey and Crane styles along with Wing Chun (of Bruce Lee fame). Similar to ancient Japanese Jujitsu, which had over 1000 years to develop, the number of styles and substyles is beyond imagination. In addition, the vast cannon of forms and exercises as well as weapons in Shaolin itself is phenomenal. This variety is testament to the fact that human beings are very diverse, needing many different approaches. For this reason, one style of martial art could never suit all.

Training in kung fu typically involves forms and possibly a good deal of stretching. Movements are often quick and powerful, as opposed to tai chi, also widespread in China. Sometimes competition is used. This approach is similar to karate and taekwondo, but far more extensive in variety.

Historically, Shaolin Kung Fu has been fused with Buddhism over the centuries, giving the martial art more focus and concentration, and combined with tai chi practice. Unfortunately, the takeover of China by communists devastated the tradition. Just as an example of the phenomena, a famous Chinese master named Empty Cloud was rebuilding the temples in China to rejuvenate Zen practice when the communist takeover occurred. He was captured, tortured and beaten nearly to death in his 90's. He did survive until about 120, but the depth and power of the Shaolin tradition was vacated during this period with what remained afterwards. To find the great benefits of kung fu, one should consider looking to the practice as it developed outside the Shaolin Temple.

Kung Fu Classes in Westchester, NY: Availability

Kung fu is appears somewhat limited in southern Westchester, but more available in northern Westchester. Sometimes semi-private classes in some styles can be found with good instruction.