The Histoy of Chinese Kung Fu

Chinese Kung Fu History

The theory of kung fu is based upon classical Chinese philosophy. Over its long history it has developed as a unique combination of exercise, practical self-defense, self-discipline, and art.


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During Shang and Zhou Dynasties (17th Century BC- 221 BC), martial arts evolved to be a kind of dancing. Usually the dancing of martial arts is utilized to train soldiers and inspire their morale.

During Zhou Dynasty, martial-arts dancing was designated as a component of education.

In Qin (221 BC – 207 BC) and Han (202 BC – 220 AD) Dynasties, wrestling, swordplay, and martial arts dancing were very popular. A well known instance was Xiang Zhuang’s Sword Dancing in Hongmen Banquet at the same period. His performance was very close to today’s martial arts. The application of spear play in Han Dynasty reached its summit along with the appearance of many other techniques of spear usage.

It is said the Five-animal-style exercise was another innovation by Hua Tuo on the development of Chinese martial arts.

Starting from Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), Kung Fu examination was proposed and implemented. Excellent candidates would receive titles and awards through the examination, largely propelling the development of martial arts. By then martial arts had evolved to be an artistic form and an independent genre. It was gradually introduced to many countries in Southeast Asia.

Today Kung Fu were honored as the ancestor of kickboxing, karate, aikido, and judo.

Song (960 – 1279) and Yuan (1206 – 1368) Dynasties witnessed the climax of Kung Fu development.  Besides, there appeared another genre called Luqi People. They made a living as performer of martial arts all over the country. Usually their performance was carried out by a single person or two persons as a pair.

Chinese Kung Fu achieved larger development in Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing (1636 – 1911) Dynasties. In Ming Dynasty, a lot of genres came into being and numerous books on martial arts were published. In Qing Dynasty, the ruling empire banned the practice of martial arts, and the folk had to set up various clubs or societies to pass down feat secretly. Therefore tens of schools of martial arts came into being, such as taiji, xingyi shadowboxing, eight–diagram shadowboxing, etc. .

The Theory of Kung Fu


天坛学太极You too can practice tai chi in China!

Taijiquan (/tie-jee-chwen/), i.e. tai chi, is a Taoist internal martial art. One account of the history of taijiquan credits its development to the Taoist immortal Chang San-feng, who is said to have drawn the inspiration for the art by watching a fight between an snake and an aggressive eagle.

What is Taijiquan?


Taijiquan – also written alternately as taijiquan, t’ai chi and tai chi chuan – is an “internal” (wudang) Chinese martial art (in contrast to the “external” (shaolin) Chinese martial arts. The distinction being looked upon today as a perhaps unnecessary, hair-splitting argument that took place within China’s martial arts community of the period 5th century CE, regarding whether the focus should be on mastering strictly the physical techniques associated with martial arts, or mastering these in connection with the mastery of one’s own unique abilities, or ‘getting in touch with one’s qi’, or life force, as it were, in a mind over matter sense).

Chinese Qi Gong

“Qi gong” (literally ‘breath exercise’) is an invaluable component of traditional Chinese medicine that has its origin in ancient times. Its primary stimulus was the search for longevity, with the ultimate aim of immortality, which has so enchanted the Chinese mind for centuries.

The Yin-Yang Balance

The core belief of Chinese medicine (中医, zhōng yī, /jong ee/) is about the yin-yang (阴阳, yīnyáng) qi balance in the body and its organs.

Most Chinese medicine practitioners think that there are many kinds of qi 气 (qì), and the most basic kinds are yin qi 阴气 and yang qi 阳气.

Everything is a balance of yin and yang. Yin 阴 is female, dark and formless. Yang 阳 is male, light, and form. Females have more yin qi, and males have more yang qi, and as people age, they lose qi.

The qi is life energy, and its flow in the body depends on the environment and what happens to the body. The balance of qi in the parts of the body depends on the flow of various kinds of qi and fluids. Injury, physical suffering, and lack of proper food causes a qi deficiency 气虚 (qìxū).

The core idea of Chinese medicine is that people can increase or decrease the various qis in the body, and its parts, by various medical techniques, to create a healthful yin-yang balance.

Each person and part of the body has an ideal point of balance of yin and yang for optimal health. Some techniques are more appropriate for increasing yang qi, and some are appropriate for decreasing yang qi, and likewise for yin qi.

Summary of the Most Common Techniques

Acupuncture: This strange and famous medical technique involves inserting needles at precise meridian points.

Cupping:This ancient practice isn’t just a Chinese tradition, it has been practiced for hundreds and thousands of years across Eurasia and North Africa. The Chinese style uses the acupuncture meridians. It is used to remove yang from the body, and it is appropriate for conditions such as bronchitis, heat stroke, and hot weather-related conditions.

Herbal Medicine:In many ways, Chinese herbal medicine is similar to Western herbal medicine, though the emphasis is on promoting the yin-yang balance.

Massage: It seems like there are massage parlors everywhere, and there are various styles that are all thought to be good for the health, some of which are more appreciated by Chinese than foreigners.

Medicinal Cuisine Therapy:The emphasis in this traditional method of meal preparation, special recipes, and way of eating is to promote the yin-yang balance.

Moxibustion:This is another surprising technique and is used to add Yang to the body. It is appropriate for women with birthing problems, older men, and cold weather-related health issues. The mugwort smoke is thought to have medicinal properties.

Qigong:Meditation and special exercise, such as qigong and tai chi also manipulates the qi balance and the body fluids in the body.


Kung Fu Stars

Bruce Lee (1940 – 1973)Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee was a Chinese-American martial artist and actor, who is considered by many as the most influential martial artist of the 20th century, and an important cultural icon. He used Wing Chun, a branch of Chinese kung fu, as his base, learned from the influences of other martial arts, and later created his own martial art philosophy — Jeet Kune Do. His films are The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon, Enter the Dragon, and Game of Death.

  • Jeet Kune Do (founded)
  • Jun Fan Kung Fu (founded)
  • Wing Chun under Ip Man (or Yip Man for the purists)
  • Boxing, he was a highschool boxing champion in Hong Kong, furthered his study in the US
  • Fencing
  • Karate – trained with Karate fighters, knows the movements but not formerly ranked.
  • Judo  (learned from Judo legend Gene Lebell)
  • Kali/Escrima from Dan Inosanto
  • Endless Various arts through research and reading.


Brandon Lee

The son of Bruce Lee would have some martial arts experience right?

Here’s what Brandon had knowledge in:

  • Jeet Kune Do
  • Muay Thai
  • Boxing
  • Shoot Wrestling
  • Kali / Escrima
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


Jackie Chan (Born 1954)Jackei Chan Legend Drunken Master

Jackie Chan is a Hong Kong martial artist, actor, and singer. He began his film career as a stuntman in the Bruce Lee films. Now a cultural icon, he is widely known for injecting comedy and stunts into his martial arts performances. Jackie has received stars on the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2008 he sang at the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. He has starred in over 100 films, and some famous ones include Rumble in the Bronx, Rush Hour, and Who Am I.

  • Peking Opera Stunt Academy
  • Hapkido Black Belt
  • Wing Chun
  • Taekwondo
  • Shaolin Kung Fu (Northern and Southern)
  • Judo
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


The guy can be seen in a big chunk of Japan’s samurai classic films such as Seven Samurai.  A true icon of martial arts cinema going back as far as the 50’s,  Toshiro Mifuine is a legend.



Sammo is a legend of Hong Kong cinema and one of the 3 dragons (Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao and Sammo) who helped raise the bar in terms of intensity and quality of martial arts choreography. Here’s his background:

  • Bak Pei Peking Opera School
  • Lam Kuen
  • Pak Mei
  • Hung Kuen
  • Karate
  • Hapkido
  • Wing chun

Jet Li (Born 1963)Jet Li as Chen Zhen

Born in Beijing, Jet Li was a five-time national wushu champion. After retiring from wushu at the age of 17, he demonstrated his skills in cinema, and won great acclaim in China as a debut actor with the film Shaolin Temple. He went on to star in many martial arts films, of which the most notable are the Once Upon A Time in China series, portraying famous folk hero Wong Fei Hung. His roles in Hollywood films include being a villain in Lethal Weapon 4, acting alongside Sylvester Stallone in The Expendables, as well as Hero, Fealess, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

  • Wushu performer on Beijing Wushu team 15 Gold Medals one Silver Medal


Donnie Yen in Killzone (aka SPL)

You can’t have a list like this without including Donnie Yen – who is one of the all time best in the martial arts movie industry.

Donnie has a strong background and is known for expressing different styles of fighting and martial arts in his movies.  Donnie’s really done his fans justice by bringing his training experience to film.

  • Tai Chi
  • Taekwondo 6th Dan Black Belt
  • Judo Black Belt
  • Wing Chun studied under Ip Man’s on Ip Chun
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt


Chuck Norris

In 1972 when Bruce Lee kicked his ass in Way of the Dragon and of course the small parts he had in other movies.But Chuck Norris is no slouch, he is one of the greatest martial artists of our time holding world titles in Karate and several belts aswell as his own style of martial arts.  More than that he has been a shining example and role model for everyone who looks up to him.

  • Chun Kuk Do 10th Dan Black Belt (founded)
  • Tang Soo Do 9th Dan Black Belt
  • Taekwondo 8th Dan Black Belt
  • Karate 5th Dan Black Belt
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt under the Machados
  • Judo Black Belt
  • Jeet Kune Do learned from Bruce Lee


He may not be the world class martial artist we all come to expect from mainstream martial arts actors these days but he’s still got a solid background and well and truly beyond what the ‘average’ martial artist achieves in his time.

  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt
  • Wing Chun
  • Karate
  • Kickboxing/Muay Thai


Michael Jai White

Michael Jai White is another martial arts star who really has some other worldly skills and credentials that has even UFC fighters and commentators like Joe Rogan stating quite boldy “Michael Jai White is no joke“.

Here’s a look at Michael Jai White’s crazy impressive background:

  • Kyokushin Karate Black Belt
  • Shotokan Karate Black Belt
  • Goju Ryu Karate Black Belt
  • Superfoot system 8th Dan Black Belt
  • WTF Taekwondo Black Belt
  • ITF Taekwnodo Black Belt
  • Kobudo Black Belt
  • Tang Soo Do Black Belt
  • MMA, trained in.
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, trained in


Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes has been training since he was a child and is a very serious martial artist with some killer credentials, just check them out!

  • Shotokan Karate 5th Dan Black Belt
  • Taekwondo 3rd Dan Black Belt
  • Hapkido 2nd Dan Black Belt
  • Kung Fu
  • Eskrima
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


Matt Mullins

Former Extreme Martial Arts (XMA) champ and current Martial Arts movie actor Matt Mullins has a pretty solid background also, and you’ve seen him move!

Matt’s fairly high ranked for a guy in his mid 30’s:

  • Shorei Ryu Karate 4th Dan



Noah Ringer

This kid was The Last Airbender and actually has a solid training background himself despite being born in 1996! So far he’s earned himself a 2nd Degree black belt.

  • Taekwondo 2nd Dan


Scott Adkins

Scott Adkins is, in my opinion, the most entertaining on screen martial artist in movies today. He’s a fantastic performer, has a solid background and an uncanny ability to go from a quiet spoken gentlemen into a tough, highly animated character in front of the camera – just think about Boyka!

This guy is here to stay.  Here’s what he has up his sleeve:

  • Taekwondo 4th Dan Black Belt
  • Judo 2nd Dan Black Belt
  • Jujitsu Black Belt
  • PKA Kickboxing Black Belt / Instructor
  • Ninjutsu
  • Karate
  • Wushu
  • Krav Maga
  • CapoeiraJeet Kune Do
  • Gymnastics.


Tony Jaa

A man who needs no introduction and has to some degree brought martial arts back to life in 2003 with Ong Bak.  You know this guy is legit. His father was a Thai boxer and Tony Jaa himself has had several Thai fights at Thai camp he grew up in and was undefeated in all of them.

  • Muay Thai
  • Taekwondo Black Belt
  • Muay boran
  • Aikido
  • Judo
  • Wushu


Richard Norton in City Hunter

Richard Norton is one of Australia’s greatest Martial Artists and one of the friendliest I’ve ever met.  I’m glad because he’d easily kick my ass, here’s his credentials:

  • Goju Kai Karate 5th Dan Black Belt
  • Zen Do Kai Freestyle Karate 8th Dan Black Belt
  • Chun Kuk Do 5th Dan Black Belt
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 4th Dan Black Belt under the Machados
  • Kickboxing
  • Muay Thai
  • Mixed Martial Arts


Gordon Liu Arm Strengthening

This Shaw Brothers star has had a life of training in Kung Fu, and it shows in his movies.

  • Hung Gar Kung Fu


Lone Wolf and Cub


He’s the Lone Wolf who travels with his Cub. He’s a big name in Japanese martial arts film and he’s got some solid skills!  Tomisaburo Wakayama earned himself a 4th Degree Black Belt in Judo!

  • Judo 4th Dan Black Belt



cyril rafaelli

Cyril started his Martial Arts journey at 6 years old. He has an extensive background and obviously a high level of skill since he’s been showing up in martial arts films for the last 15-20 years.

Cyril trains in:

  • Shotokan Karate
  • Wushu
  • Sanda (1998 France Champion)


Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez

Benny the Jet can be seen fighting Jackie Chan in a few of his films form the 80’s.  If you didn’t already know, the guy is a legend in martial arts! He’s considered to be the greatest kickboxer of all time!

Here’s what the ‘The Jet’ has to his name – count these Black Belts!

  • Ukidokan Karate founder / Black Belt
  • Judo Black Belt
  • Jujutsu Black Belt
  • Shotokan Karate Black Belt
  • Taekwondo Black Belt
  • Kajukenbo Black Belt
  • Kendo Black Belt
  • Kickboxing Black Belt / former World Champion
  • Lima Lama Black Belt
  • White Crane Kung Fu Black Belt
  • Aikido Black Belt


Cynthia Rothrock

Another legend of Martial Arts Cinema with an outstanding background in her training.  She’s gotta be one of the most deadly women on the planet!

  • Tang Soo Do 7th Dan Black Belt
  • Taekwondo Black Belt
  • Karate Black Belt
  • Eagle Claw Black Belt
  • Wushu Black Belt
  • Northern Shaolin Kung Fu Black Belt
  • Pai Lum Tao Kung Fu Black Belt


Cung Le talks about Bruce Lee

A top notch Martial Arts movie star and a powerful force in the UFC, Cung Le  is every bit the weapon he portrays in the movies and perhaps one of the most proven fighters to star in Martial Arts film (come on, he competed in the UFC!).

  • Sanshou Black Sash
  • Taekwondo 1st Dan Black Belt
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt
  • Professional Mixed Martial Artist and former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion


Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly was a cool dude in Enter the Dragon, and if only John Saxon’s agent didn’t throw a little tanty over Saxon’s character being killed, Williams would have survived the film’s plot!  Anyway, I’m whining, here’s what Jim Kelly has experience with in his training.

  • Shorin-Ryu Karate Middleweight Champion


Bob Wall

Bob Wall is as serious a martial artist as they get.  He was O’Hara in Enter the Dragon and a Karate World Champion.  In reality, he’s one of the most accomplished martial artists out there, here’s his credentials:

  • Tang Soo Do 9th Dan Black Belt
  • Chun Kuk Do 9th Dan Black Belt
  • Taekwondo 8th Dan Black Belt
  • Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate Black Belt
  • Okinawan Okinawa-te Black Belt
  • Judo Black Belt under Gene Lebell
  • MNA Black Belt under Gene Lebell
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt under the Machados


Ernie Reyes Jr

He was a pizza delivery man who met the ninja turtles at a young age, he then trained hard and became Ernie Reyes Jr.

He’s an American/Filipino Stuntman and Martial Arts actor – here’s his background:

  • Tae Kwon Do 4th degree black belt
  • Muay Thai
  • Kick Boxing
  • Karate.


Gina Carano

She’s a looker and a top notch martial arts actress.  Gina Carano is doing well for herself by transitioning from the professional fighting circuit to Hollywood.  Here’s her highly decorated experience:

  • Muay Thai Professional Fighter
  • MMA World Champion
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu White Belt

In the Blood Fast & Furious 6 Haywire Deadpool  2016



Jon Foo

Jon Foo is a Chinese-British Martial Arts Actor who has some very nice moves.  He has potential which I hope is realized in the next few years but hasn’t quite had his break yet.  His training is primarily in Wushu.

  • Wushu


Maggie Q

She is Nikita and has played many roles where she’s had to use martial arts to take apart her enemies.  Maggie Q has experience in a handful of styles, mostly for her movie career:

  • Wushu
  • Qi Gong

RAY PARKImage result for RAY PARK

Ray Park is the real deal. He has trained in several styles and won several tournaments in his time.  You can see his fantastic abilities in a string of movies but he is most noticeable as Darth Maul in Star Wars and Snake Eye in  G.I JOE  1-2

Ray Park has experience in the following arts:

  • Northern Shaolin Kung Fu
  • Wushu
  • Kickboxing
  • Hapkido


Joe Taslim

Joe Taslim is the Indonesian actor best known for leading the squad of cops into the terrible tower in ‘The Raid‘ alongside Iko Uwais. He’s got a very solid background and career in martial arts and shows a lot of promise for future roles in film. He  in Fast & Furious 6.

This guy is worth keep an eye on!

  • Judo Gold & Silver Medalist
  • Pencak Silat
  • Wushu
  • Taekwondo
  • Shotokan Karate