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The Unknown Chinese Martial Arts

The Unknown Chinese Martial Arts

Various beliefs walk around these millenary arts, from simple combat sport, to competition sport, show, stunt etc. ... What is it really?

Let's go back to what we know historically and then I will share with you what some masters in China have shared with me about their experiences and visions of what people popularize Kung-Fu.

Table of contents

A bit of history?

First of all, you need to know that the term Kung-FU (Gong-Fu) was introduced to the West in the 1970s, to designate Chinese martial arts films.


"Mastery", perfection, possession of a craft, an action to which much time is given.


It is the technique as energy that has been put into action!
There are slight nuances in the meaning of these two terms in ancient times in China.


Art of fighting, finding art in fighting and fighting with art.


"In the sense of a protective talisman at the entrance to a house.


Know-how, multiple knowledge, owning a trade thanks to a long and rigorous apprenticeship.

Chinese martial arts have been used for thousands of years, for self-defense, hunting, military training, hand-to-hand combat and the practice of multiple weapons, as well as energetic body knowledge and relations with the cosmos!

Shaolin Quan is the 1st institutionalized martial art. (It is not the beginning of Chinese martial arts).
Legend has it that Buddhidarma taught this art to monks in the 5th century to defend themselves against animals and brigands.
However, we don't have a precise date, although looking more closely at the medical, energetic, gymnastic and philosophical levels, we can see strong correlations with Chinese martial arts, culture, and life as a whole. 

The Styles

We have the so-called "external" and "internal" styles, although in China, the distinction of styles is not recognized by some masters.

Distinguishing between styles can reveal a scale of value that doesn't exist per se in Chinese martial arts: everything transforms, everything is constantly in motion. Death itself is not fixed and is unstable! 

External styling

Physical strength and speed as training principles. The opponent is other people.

internal style

Breathing control, relaxation and slowness to guide the Qi. The opponent is yourself.

We can relate this to the Yin and Yang which are also inseparable, neither different nor complementary, they are there, because without one, there would be no other.

So what is it really? There are countless styles that differ between northern and southern China (and sometimes even by dialect), both internal and external in nature, and many of them are not even listed! Similarly, there was a belief that northern styles were more aerial and southern styles more grounded, seeking the power of the earth. This was quickly justified on the basis of cartography. However, this is not the case.

There are airy styles in the South and deeply rooted styles in the North. It's still a cliché fed by the uninformed, but we're learning something new every day, and I used to think that before I realized what it really was.

The application of the styles is different, the movements, their spirits, the state of being, life and execution too, slow, jerky, fast, concentrated... I have the impression that everything is possible in fact because of the different styles.

Chinese martial arts have existed for thousands of years and the field of applications is infinite.

Styles have been built up over hundreds and hundreds of years, some have disappeared (PaoQuan, FanQuan...), others have been incorporated into more recent styles. Some were created under the impetus of sports institutes and academies (20th century).

There are several components to consider when building and developing a style.


Pragmatism confronted with their effectiveness in single combat, and battlefields, other parameters such as age, climate, health...


Diverse cosmology constructs an abstract, reductive entity. Chinese thought" (Taoism, Buddhism, Shamanism, Totemism, Confucianism have blended their cosmology and martial practice) Self-perfection and martial efficiency.


Such as the art of combat, weapons techniques, bare-handed techniques and hand-to-hand combat have all been added to the styles.

Wushu GongFu is highly diversified: bare-hand and weapon sequences, Qi Gong exercises, relaxation, Qi Na (seizing technique), two-hand sequences (bare-hand and weapon), combat techniques... It's the conception of its specificity (force management, intention...) that sets it apart from other styles. 

The fields of application

However, it doesn't stop there: it's used in medicine, in the visual arts, in the management of a state, a country or even a family. The multiplicity of Chinese martial arts makes it a rare commodity when you're interested in its history and fields of action, and even more so when you meet natives of the milieu who explain to you that ...

"Chinese martial arts are an intrinsic part of the country's age-old culture although most Chinese don't practice gong fu in the Western sense of the word, they have grown up with a certain historical culture which means that unconsciously, they live through them and keep within them a potential that may, may never be revealed or awakened..." ( 蓝月 - Guangzhou)

"These days, it's a bit complex with the new generation, Westernization, the joys of the body, overcoming borders and so on. However, our arts will remain immutable, have inspired and still inspire most of the new martial arts sports and babies. When foreigners come to me saying it's like karate, boxing, taekwondo, dance or whatever and I simply reply that it all comes from here and he didn't seem to fully understand the influence of China at the time and its richness which is still incalculable today, and this day still although this one is done in a different way." (道李 - AnHui )

Some see it as a way of life, but when we look a little closer, we can see that Chinese martial arts in the intrinsic sense of the term quite simply encompass the life of the human being on all levels. Physical, mental, psychological, emotional, cosmological, energetic, evolutionary, adaptive and universal knowledge. 

Thus, these arts have crossed the time and will still cross them by their subtleties and adaptability to the evolutions of the current world while preserving the immutable adages of the universe which will remain unchanged forever.

So, are Chinese martial arts in the West the same as they were in the beginning? Quite simply, no. Chinese martial arts have been so ridiculed today that it's unlikely you'll ever be able to learn the real nuts and bolts. 
So what do you think? Is it done voluntarily (by China), in order to keep certain secrets, a memory, a history belonging to them? And that fooling the masses with a new martial definition is done on purpose? 
Who really knows? Basically, you have to look for information from a source that is inexhaustible.

The Chinese martial arts contain so many secrets that its discovery will never end... <br>
Just like the human being and nature, martial arts are in perpetual evolution while keeping solid and unwavering roots!

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