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Chinese martial arts facts for kids

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Chinese martial arts
Traditional Chinese 武術
Simplified Chinese 武术
Literal meaning martial art

Chinese martial arts, also known by the Mandarin Chinese term wushu, and popularly as kung-fu , includes a number of fighting styles that have developed over the centuries in China. These fighting styles are often classified according to common features, identified as "families" (jiā), "sects" (pài) or "schools" (mén) of martial arts. Examples of such features include physical exercises copying certain animals, or training methods inspired by Taoism, and legends. Styles focusing on qi are called "internal", while others concentrate on improving muscle and heart fitness, and are called "external". They are also often classed according to region, that is "northern" and "southern".

History

The genesis of Chinese martial arts has been attributed to the need for self-defense, hunting techniques and military training in ancient China. Hand-to-hand combat and weapons practice were important in training ancient Chinese soldiers.

The Shaolin style of kung fu is regarded as one of the first institutionalized Chinese martial arts. Between the 16th and 17th centuries, at least forty sources exist to provide evidence both that monks of Shaolin practiced martial arts, and that martial practice became an integral element of Shaolin monastic life.

Notable practitioners

Taichi shanghai bund 2005
The Yang style of taijiquan being practiced on the Bund in Shanghai
See also: Category:Chinese martial artists and Category:Wushu practitioners
  • Ng Mui (late 17th century) was the legendary female founder of many Southern martial arts such as Wing Chun, and Fujian White Crane. She is often considered one of the legendary Five Elders who survived the destruction of the Shaolin Temple during the Qing Dynasty.
  • Yang Luchan (1799–1872) was an important teacher of the internal martial art known as t'ai chi ch'uan in Beijing during the second half of the 19th century. Yang is known as the founder of Yang-style t'ai chi ch'uan, as well as transmitting the art to the Wu/Hao, Wu and Sun t'ai chi families.
  • Ten Tigers of Canton (late 19th century) was a group of ten of the top Chinese martial arts masters in Guangdong (Canton) towards the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912). Wong Kei-Ying, Wong Fei Hung's father, was a member of this group.
  • Wong Fei Hung (1847–1924) was considered a Chinese folk hero during the Republican period. More than one hundred Hong Kong movies were made about his life. Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li have all portrayed his character in blockbuster pictures.
  • Huo Yuanjia (1867–1910) was the founder of Chin Woo Athletic Association who was known for his highly publicized matches with foreigners. His biography was recently portrayed in the movie Fearless (2006).
  • Yip Man (1893–1972) was a master of the Wing Chun and the first to teach this style openly. Yip Man was the teacher of Bruce Lee. Most major branches of Wing Chun taught in the West today were developed and promoted by students of Yip Man.
  • Gu Ruzhang (1894–1952) was a Chinese martial artist who disseminated the Bak Siu Lum (Northern Shaolin) martial arts system across southern China in the early 20th century. Gu was known for his expertise in Iron Palm hand conditioning among other Chinese martial art training exercises.
  • Bruce Lee (1940–1973) was a Chinese American martial artist and actor who was considered an important icon in the 20th century. He practiced Wing Chun and made it famous. Using Wing Chun as his base and learning from the influences of other martial arts his experience exposed him to, he later developed his own martial arts philosophy that evolved into what is now called Jeet Kune Do.
  • Jackie Chan (b. 1954) is a Chinese martial artist and actor widely known for injecting physical comedy into his martial arts performances, and for performing complex stunts in many of his films.
  • Jet Li (b. 1963) is the five-time sport wushu champion of China, later demonstrating his skills in cinema.
  • Donnie Yen (b. 1963) is a Hong Kong actor, martial artist, film director and producer, action choreographer, and world wushu tournament medalist.
  • Wu Jing (b. 1974) is a Hong Kong actor director, martial artist. He was a member of the Beijing wushu team. He started his career as action choreographer and later as an actor.

In popular culture

References to the concepts and use of Chinese martial arts can be found in popular culture. Historically, the influence of Chinese martial arts can be found in books and in the performance arts specific to Asia. Recently, those influences have extended to the movies and television that targets a much wider audience. As a result, Chinese martial arts have spread beyond its ethnic roots and have a global appeal.

In modern times, Chinese martial arts have spawned the genre of cinema known as the Kung fu film. The films of Bruce Lee were instrumental in the initial burst of Chinese martial arts' popularity in the West in the 1970s. Bruce Lee was the iconic international superstar that popularized Chinese martial arts in the West with his own variation of Chinese martial arts called Jeet Kune Do. It is a hybrid style of martial art that Bruce Lee practiced and mastered. Jeet Kune Do is his very own unique style of martial art that uses little to minimum movement but maximizes the effect to his opponents. The influence of Chinese martial art have been widely recognized and have a global appeal in Western cinemas starting off with Bruce Lee.

Martial artists and actors such as Jet Li and Jackie Chan have continued the appeal of movies of this genre. Jackie Chan successfully brought in a sense of humour in his fighting style in his movies. Martial arts films from China are often referred to as "kung fu movies" (功夫片), or "wire-fu" if extensive wire work is performed for special effects, and are still best known as part of the tradition of kung fu theater. (see also: wuxia, Hong Kong action cinema). The talent of these individuals have broadened Hong Kong's cinematography production and rose to popularity overseas, influencing Western cinemas.

In the west, kung fu has become a regular action staple, and makes appearances in many films that would not generally be considered "Martial Arts" films. These films include but are not limited to The Matrix Trilogy, Kill Bill, and The Transporter.

Related pages

Gun2 10 all china games
Modern forms are used in the sport of wushu, as seen in this staff routine
  • Eighteen Arms of Wushu
  • Hard and soft (martial arts)
  • Kung-fu
  • List of Chinese martial arts
  • Wushu (term)
  • Wushu (sport)
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