ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF TRUE KUNGFU

Wushu (武术) is a precious legacy of Chinese culture. It is the result of an uninterrupted tradition, which has provided this art with the recognition and the experience of ancient masters.

Thousands of years of history back up the development of hundreds of styles, divided according to their geographic position in: Bei Pai Wushu (Wushu of the northern current, 北派武术), and Nan Pai Wushu (Wushu of the southern current, 南派武术). The former, evolved from vast steppes of the North of Chang Jiang river (长江) and the latter born in the thickness of the mountains and the affluents of the numerous Southern rivers.  

The northern school is principally represented by the following trends:

1-Shaolin Jia Quan (Shaolin's monastery boxing, 少林家拳).

2-Hua Quan (boxing of Hua current, 華家拳).

3-Cha Jia Quan (boxing of Cha current, 拳).

4-Taizu Chang Quan (Emperor Taizu's long boxing, 太祖長家拳).

5-Hong Jia Quan (boxing of Hong current, 洪家拳).

6-Ba Shan Fan (boxing of the eight glares, 八閃翻)

7-Pao Quan (penetration boxing, 炮拳).

8-Pi Gua Quan (boxing of the cutting fist, 劈掛拳).

9-Ba Ji Quan (boxing of the eight extremes, 八極拳).

10-Mian Zhang Duan Da Quan (short-striking cotton palm boxing, 棉掌短打拳).

11-Tong Bei Quan (boxing through the backside, 通臂拳).

12-Ying Zhao Men (boxing of the eagle's current, 鷹爪門).

13-Tang Lang Quan (boxing of the praying mantis, 螳螂拳).

14-Mi Zong Quan (boxing of the maze, 秘蹤拳).

15-Liu He Quan (boxing of six harmonies, 六合拳).

16-Luo Han Quan (Luohan boxing, 羅漢拳).

17-Zi Ran Men (boxing of the natural current, 自然門).

18-Ba Gua Zhang (boxing of the palm of eight directions, 八卦掌).

19-Tan Tui Men (boxing of the flying legs, 彈腿門).

20-Xing Yi Quan (boxing of mind and intention, 形意拳).

21-Zui Quan (drunken boxing, 醉拳).

22-Mei Hua Quan (plum blossom boxing, 梅花拳).

23-Taiji Jia Quan (Taiji family boxing, 太極家拳).

Among the most known styles that form the southern current (Nan Pai, 南派), there are the five classical Southern families, some styles that evolved from the mixture of those families and other schools that were born in the internal Southern Shaolin core and evolved in Guangdong (Canton, 廣東), Fu Jian (福建) and Xiang Gang (Hong Kong, 香港) regions, fundamentally.

  The five southern families comprise the following schools:

1-Hong Jia Quan (boxing Hong family boxing, 洪家拳).

2-Li Jia Quan (Li family boxing, 李家拳).

3-Cai Jia Quan (Cai family boxing, 蔡家拳).

4-Mo Jia Quan (Mo family boxing, 某家拳).

5-Liu Jia Quan (Liu family boxing, 劉家拳).

  These main styles, together with other systems of typical southern China animals, branched out and mixed among themselves giving place to other trends. Nevertheless, schools mostly known and divulged are the following:

1-Cai Li Fu Quan (boxing that combines techniques from Masters Li Yau San and Chan Yuen Woo with those of Monk Choy Fook, known in Occident as Choy Lee Fut, 蔡李佛拳).

2-Hong Quan (Hong family's boxing, structured by Masters Luk Ah Choi and Hun Hei Gong after the fire in southern Shaolin's monastery and later developed within Master Wong Fei Hong's family, 洪拳).

3-Long Xing Pai (boxing of the dragon's current, 龍形派).

4-Bai Mei Pai (boxing of the current of the white eyebrows, 白眉派).

5-Yong Chun Quan (boxing of eternal spring, known in Occident as Wingchun, 詠春拳).

6-Fo Jia Quan (boxing of the Buddhist current, trend developed by the famous Master Liang Tian Zhu, 佛家拳).

7-Ke Jia Quan (Hakka current boxing, 客家).

8-Xia Jia Quan (Xia current boxing, name granted by Master Wong Hong Wing to hide, in a period of extreme Chinese nationalism, the white crane boxing from Tibet region or Lama Pai (喇嘛派), term that sends it way back to the middle of the XVI century in China, 侠拳).

9-Wu Xing Quan (boxing of the five animals, 五形拳).

10-Fei Long Hu Gun Fa (method of the tiger and flying dragon staff, 飛龍虎棍法).

  There are other very prominent styles within the southern current such as Bai He Pai, (the white crane current, 白鹤派), Wu Zu Quan (boxing of the five ancestors, 五祖拳), Luo Han Quan (Luo Han boxing, 罗汉拳), Di Shu Quan (earth boxing, 地術拳), Hu Zun Quan (tiger revering boxing, 虎尊拳), Tai Zu Quan (great ancestor boxing, 太祖拳), Zhou Jia Quan (Zhou family boxing, 周家拳), which  were developed mainly at Fujian province, and other that were born within the secret societies or triads, as is the case of the You Min Quan (the vagabond’s boxing, 游民拳).

  However, although the diversity of southern styles is relatively less compared to the northern styles, all of them respond to a common origin: They stemmed from the evolution of martial arts of Fu Jian Jiu Lian Shan's Temple (Shaolin temple of the nine lotuses in Fujian province, 福建九莲山), as well as the techniques developed within the core of family clans and secret societies. 

  Besides, according to determined characteristics of Chinese boxing, this can be splitted into: Nei Jia Wushu (internal school boxing, 内家武术), and Wai Jia Wushu (external school boxing, 外家武术).

Nei Jia School is represented by Wudang Shan Monastery (武當山) at Hubei province (湖北). The internal school boxing develops on mental activity and the cultivation of internal energy as essential objectives, while the external school boxing is based on techniques of movement of arms and legs, initially supported by an intense muscular work.

  There is a great variety of combat systems originated in Wudang monastery -- some well-known, others unknown--, that stay safe under tradition and inscribed into the core of Taoist schools. Among the most well-known forms, we can find:

1-Wudang Sanfeng Tai Ji Quan (Sanfeng Taiji boxing, 武當三豐太極拳).

2-Long Xing Ba Gua Zhang (eight trigrams dragon palms, 龍行八卦掌).

3-Liu He Ba Fa (six combination, eight method boxing, 六合八法).

4-Ba Xian Quan (eight immortals boxing, 八仙拳).

5-Long Hua Quan (dragon shaped boxing, 龍華拳).

6-Tai Yi Xuan Wu Quan (great summit Xuangwu boxing, 太乙玄武拳).

7-Wu Xing Quan (five element boxing, 五行拳).

8-Wudang Xing Yi Quan (Wudang mind and intention boxing, 武當形意拳).

  These boxings do not add up to more than twenty styles. Wai Jia School, on the other hand, contains a greater range of boxings spread all over the country.

  Nevertheless, although historical classifications seem to encode our vision of martial arts, we can not truly grasp their conceptual delimitations unless we really go deep inside the tradition and the cultural history of Chinese people. Not everything that was produced martially came exclusively from Shaolin Monastery, neither all that was developed in the monastic universe remained resistant to the influence of lay traditions and customs.

  Wushu was not only the result of corporal experimentation of buddhist monks from Shaolin Monastery, as it is usually stated in the referential official circles. It is, above all, a permanent element in constant development since the origins of Chinese culture, registered within the war environment and secret societies.

  On the other hand, Nei Jia (internal school) and Wai Jia (external school) concepts are only valid if we are to classify styles as to whether they initially emphasize muscular work or a relaxed and circular movement system. This, however, does not mean that internal work belongs exclusively to internal styles and vice-versa.

  Wushu can be executed in different ways, and the more subtle the technique becomes, the more absorving, fluid and continuous the movements are. Any system, including those classified as 'external', can be executed in an 'internal' manner. The concepts are valid only while they don't enslave our vision. There is a powerful tendency in the majority of human beings to fill up with definitions and be conditioned by standardized schemes. It is necessary to know through experience, so that knowledge shows through as something personal, and not as a mere reflex of somebody else's experience.