There are hundreds of styles of Kung Fu practiced today. Some are very similar, some are very different. You have strong styles such as Hung Ga and Jow Ga, kicking and acrobatic styles such as Eagle Claw and throwing styles such as Shuai Jiao. The list goes on and on. Although there are many styles, they all fall under the same umbrella of Chinese Martial Arts, or Kung Fu. Their common bond is not just the Country from where they came, but the fact that Kung Fu has certain characteristics.

What are the characteristics of Kung Fu?

  • For one, it is an art of self defense. Although you may compete, it was not made for the ring, or for show.
  • It has a code of conduct and ethics known as WuDe or MoDuk. This is beyond mere physical training and is a path for correct behavior and thinking.
  • It’s training is based on longevity and not instant reward. It is meant to build and maintain the body for a long and healthy life.
  • It’s structure is that of a family, not military. You are all there to build up and support each other in training and life.
  • It is a blend of Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian philosophies. Making it a thoughtful, spiritual and intelligent system.

So I ask you: Which is more important, the style or the art? Do you pride yourself on the virtues of Kung Fu; its rich history and culture, or is your particular system the most important factor? If you learn to play guitar, is that more important than the music? Does the instrument supersede all others? Is it beyond music itself?

This does not mean that style is not important. On the contrary, the system/s you choose is one that you do for a lifetime and therefore it should be something that you love. However, there are many systems that could fit your body and temperament. To think there is just one would be very nearsighted. And even if you do love your style what is it that makes it special?

What I’m getting at is this: The style you practice is merely a vehicle to take you to your destination. That destination is health, longevity, self-defense and peace of mind. There are many ways to get there. Your style is just one of them. Just like there are many religions that offer the same reward. They just have a different way to get there. When you take too much pride in your system, you start to lose sight of the big picture. The important things start to lessen and give way to things such as ego and pride. So again, what is more important: The style or the art?

Thank you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment below.

~ Edward Tomaine