Kung Fu Styles

Martial Art styles are classified by using pairs of contrasting words, such as External or Internal, Hard or Soft, Long or Short, Northern or Southern. Since these descriptions often lead to confusion, the following notes are offered in the hope that they will clarify the matter.

External – Training the fighting techniques, conditioning the body, training the more obvious forms of strength.

Internal – Training to strengthen the internal organs, improving and conditioning the circulation of Chi, training the mind, a style is classified depending upon which is trained at first. Internal training follows Black Sash 1st Degree.

Hard – A blow which is seen to be powerful by an observer and results in bruises and broken bones, plus internal damage if the boxer is good enough, a forceful block to deal with a forceful attack.

Soft – A blow which is delivered in a relaxed manner and will damage an opponent internally without causing surface bruising or broken bones, turning a forceful blow aside by non-forceful means, a style is classified on the appearance of the sets, if they are brisk and forceful then they are said to be Hard.

Long – Movements are fully stretched.

Short – Movements are tight, blows move short distances, a style is classified depending on the major appearance in the sets.

North – Refers to the geographic origin of the style but has also come to mean styles that include tumbling routines, very mobile stances, emphasizing kicks.

South – Refers to styles originating in South China, but also means styles that are thought to emphasize hand movements from stable low stances.

Every true traditional Martial Arts is a blend of:

External & Internal – Hard & Soft – Long & Short

Moreover such styles will also contain movements, which have no fighting application, being designed for improving the health of the practitioner.

The modern trend of discarding such movements is to be deplored, since it shows lack of respect for the Shaolin tradition and could be detrimental to health.