The Origin and Different Styles of Chinese Martial Arts

Only three families of Chinese martial arts are recognized as orthodox internal styles. These include Form-Intent Fist (Xingyi Quan), Eight Trigram Palm (Bagua Zhang), and Tai Chi Ch’uan (Taiji Quan). Pictured above: Tai Chi Ch’uan. (Image courtesy of Renee Luo)
Only three families of Chinese martial arts are recognized as orthodox internal styles. These include Form-Intent Fist (Xingyi Quan), Eight Trigram Palm (Bagua Zhang), and Tai Chi Ch’uan (Taiji Quan). Pictured above: Tai Chi Ch’uan. (Image courtesy of Renee Luo)

Chinese martial arts are also commonly known as Kung Fu or Wushu. They refer to a number of fighting styles that developed through Chinese history. There are external and internal styles, and southern and northern styles.

Internal styles emphasize “qi,” or internal energy manipulation; external styles focus on strength and physical techniques. Styles such as Southern Praying Mantis (Chow Gar in Chinese) combine internal and external methods. Only three families of Chinese martial arts are recognized as orthodox internal styles.

 

 

 

chinese martial arts

Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi Ch’uan (pictured above) are the two most popular styles of Chinese martial arts. (Image courtesy of Renee Luo)

These include Form-Intent Fist (Xingyi Quan), Eight Trigram Palm (Bagua Zhang), and Tai Chi Ch’uan (Taiji Quan).

Stories from history tell that the Yellow Emperor created Chinese martial arts. His legendary Kung Fu helped him defeat his enemy Chi You. Chi You created horn butting, which evolved into Chinese wrestling.

chinese martial arts

Chinese martial arts are also commonly known as Kung Fu or Wushu. They refer to a number of fighting styles that developed through Chinese history. Pictured above: Yang-style Tai Chi Swordsmanship. (Image courtesy of Renee Luo)

Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi Ch’uan are the two most popular styles of Chinese martial arts. In history, the Indian monk Bodhidharma (Damo in Chinese) created Shaolin Kung Fu. When he traveled to the Shaolin temple in China, he was appalled by the weakness of the monks, so he taught them the Eighteen Arhat Hands technique.

The Eighteen Arhat Hands evolved into Arhat Fist, as practiced even today. The famous Shaolin martial arts text Muscle Change Classic (Yijin Jing), was written by Bodhidharma.

chinese martial arts

Eagle Claw (pictured above) performed at a past NTD International Chinese Martial Arts Competition. (Image courtesy of Renee Luo)

Tao Yin, also known as Taoist Yoga, was a precursor of Tai Chi Ch’uan, and has been practiced by Taoists since 500 B.C. Today, Tai Chi Ch’uan has spread worldwide and is known for its gentle movements and health benefits.

For those who would like an opportunity to see many of these traditional Chinese martial arts styles demonstrated, on Sept 21, preliminaries for the NTD International Chinese Martial Arts Competition will be held at Baruch College ARC Arena, New York City, US. The finals and the award ceremony will be held on Sept 22 at the same venue.

chinese martial arts

In Chinese martial arts, there are external and internal styles, and southern and northern styles. Pictured above: Springing Legs Style, also called “Lake leg”. (Image courtesy of Renee Luo)

Competition categories include:

  • Fist Category (divided into male and female divisions) includes Long Fist styles, such as Cha Quan, Hua (flower) Quan, Pao Quan, Hong Quan, Hua (China) Quan, Shaolin, etc. It also includes other external fist styles such as Mian Quan, Tong Bei, Praying Mantis, Fanzi Quan, Ba Chi Quan (Eight Extremes Fist), etc., and internal fist styles such as Ba Gua, Xing Yi, etc.
  • Southern Fist Category includes southern fist styles, such as Hung Ga, Lau Ga, Choy Ga, Li Ga, Mok Ga, Buddha Style, Crane Style, Wing Chun, etc.
  • Weapon Category (divided into male and female divisions) includes external weapons such as Sword, Broadsword, Spear, Staff, etc., and internal weapons such as Xing Yi Sword, Xing Yi Broadsword and Xing Yi Spear, as well as Yuanyang Blades, Qian Kun Circular Blades, etc.
chinese martial arts

Internal styles emphasize “qi,” or internal energy manipulation; external styles focus on strength and physical techniques. Pictured above: Emei Swordsmanship. (Image courtesy of Renee Luo)

The panel of judges for this Competition is composed of highly experienced Chinese Martial Arts experts. The Competition’s Organizing Committee has also invited Masters from various martial arts systems to serve as consultants to the Competition.

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