|Chinese martial arts|
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Practiced since the dawn of human civilisation, Chinese martial arts have influenced martial arts development throughout the whole of Asia.
The fighting skills have been developed and refined with each generation.
The Chinese have used kung fu for the last 4500 years. Their skills have remained relevant and functional throughout the ages.
The speed and versatility of Chinese martial arts makes them ideal for armed combat, unarmed combat and self defence.
Fighting art or martial art?
Some styles of kung fu were designed to be fighting arts; for individual combat, personal protection and self defence.
Other methods were adopted and employed by the Chinese military - these were martial arts, not fighting arts.
'Martial' means military
Military combat is quite different from self defence or sport; more serious... And it is usually features weaponry.
Martial arts are dangerous
The British Medical Association Guide To Sports Injuries states:
Combat sports such as
boxing, judo, karate or
kung fu make tough demands on the body; training is
intense, and participation requires all-round
fitness. Regardless of the
fitness of the participants, however, the
aggressive blows traded between opponents means
that these sports always carry a serious risk of injury.
The modern off-shoot of kung fu is called 'wushu'. It combines martial arts-style movements, gymnastics, acrobatics and dance choreographed to look exciting.
Wushu is all about aesthetics, theatrical displays and entertainment. Traditional Chinese martial arts are not performance art, nor sport.
Most martial arts rely on strength, tensed muscles, speed, force against force, locked joints, aggression and using the arms independently of the body. This is thought of as being 'external'.
Internal martial arts (neijiaquan)
A handful of Chinese martial arts use the body in a very different manner, relying upon timing, balance, relaxed muscles, whole-body strength, whole-body movement and whole-body power.
These arts are called 'internal' or neijiaquan. The training methods are more advanced and harder to learn.
If you’re looking for
something easy, then kung fu is probably not for you.
Advanced martial art
Internal martial arts (neijiaquan) cultivate a very different attitude in the student. They necessitate an unfamiliar approach to body use, combat and living:
Health and combat are equally important
Age is less of an obstacle
Significantly more refined, detailed and sophisticated than mainstream martial arts
Strength is built using unconventional means
Cross-training: core strength, massage, leg stretches, cardio work, yoga, qigong, neigong, form, partnered work, martial sets & drills, combat and weapons
Physically and mentally challenging; but in a very different way to mainstream martial arts
Body must be trained to move in a manner that is unfamiliar
Organic, natural, flowing
Striking and grappling are trained together
Hidden, restrained, subtle
Uses 4 ounces of pressure, stickiness, sensitivity
Incapacitation is the aim
Composure is vital
Allowing, leading, misdirecting, listening, sensitivity, adaptation
Reliance upon spontaneity and timing
Being in the body and sensation-oriented
Blending rather than blocking
Feeling your vulnerability
Loose, fluid and relaxed musculature
A highly developed technical understanding is cultivated
An understanding of the meaning and application of the martial Classics
The art is a vehicle for exploring the many insights offered by 'taoism'
The training is done
carefully, gently - in a controlled manner -
without exertion or strain
In taijiquan we do not train
ourselves so our bodies are distorted in one way to achieve something
(Chungliang Al Huang)
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Page created 25 March 1994
Last updated 25 April 2019