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yinshangyi
yinshangyi's picture
Kung Fu

Hi fellow martial arts practitioners,

Is there any of you who have/had practiced or cross-trained in Chinese Martial Arts?  What is your views on Kung Fu (Wing Chun, Praying Mantis, White Crane, Shaolin Quan, etc...) I had trained in Karate (wado-ryu) for nearly 10 years before, I've been training by myself ever since. I want to get back to an actual martial art school, the thought came through my mind that maybe studying Kung Fu for a change may be beneficial. I did a bit of Wing Chun before.

What's your views of Kung Fu in general? Forms look more fluid, more internal and less stiff. The curriculum looks wider as well (weapons, chin na, striking, internal stuff, etc...). Would you say Kung Fu is deeper than Karate in general while Karate is simpler and more straightfoward (in a good way I mean)?

How does all of this translate to actual fighting/sparring? Long story short what's your views on Karate vs Kung Fu or Japanese Martial Arts vs Chinese Martial Arts. Thank you in advance for you guys inputs,

Train hard and stay safe, Osu!

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Chinese martial arts are impossible to generalize, is an old culture with all kinds of arts, ranging from practical and simple to ornate and fancy.

It's pretty hard to answer questions tha are that broad, without having some more specifics about what you are looking into training.

I will say that like anything, practicality is usually based on whether people have a clear idea of what they are training for, and whether they implement a training plan based on that. That is more important than how forms look externally, etc., in my opinion. Of course, forms should at least look competent!

I have been practicing Tai Chi for years, but mainly as a sort of meditative add-on. Most Tai Chi schools do not teach it as a martial art (schools that do exist but aren't common). As a practically-minded Karateka I can get some benefit to my practical skills, but it's pretty secondary, mostly I do it as a mentally and physically healthy, relaxing activity, often on days where I don't do anything higher energy.

There are definitely some things you can learn about fluid movement, etc. from Tai Chi in this form, but again it is not generally taught as a practical martial art, so expecting to gain direct martial skill from it might not make much sense.

The same goes for any other school, if they are mostly doing solo forms with little else, practicality is not even an issue because it is not what is being trained for, regardless of how such a school might market itself.

So you need to know what the training is actually for  and what the overall program looks like to evaluate it's qualities, just going by surface appearances won't get you much information, from my perspective.

dsgintx
dsgintx's picture

I sort of came the reverse of your route.  I spent a year or two leaning Yang style Tai Chi in a practice that was also a yoga studio.  Plenty of attribute development and some acknowledgement of martial function but nothing close to martial practice at all, not even push hands.  Teacher moved and I tried with the successor but it wasn't the same, so I left and did hand forms on my own.  TIme passes, I'm taking my kids to my current karate school and asked one of the instructors if they were aware of any martial-based Tai Chi instructors.  There was one and based on his website he was making the right noises about martial practice but the schedule just couldn't work.  So I started karate at the same school as my kids and I've been thrilled with the choice which leads me (finally!) to my point: I think the instructor and the relationship you develop with the school matters loads more than the practice you are being taught.  I don't think it is easy to find that place (I credit dumb luck on my part). To me it's nearly impossible to select an ideal "art" to study--they all have some degree of gaps in their practice--but you can probably know within a month if you've found a place and group you really want to train with.  The problem is it requires you and some time with them to really know.

As far as internal/external go, that also very much depends on the teacher.  I know of aikido systems that are very focused on internal practice but have near zero practical application--and no pressure testing of what they do.  I know of karate schools (like the one I'm in) that teach an external art but as you develop it, you can start to look at how to develop internal power and so your external practice becomes internal too.  As they say, many paths but the same mountain.

Jeb Chiles
Jeb Chiles's picture

[quote=yinshangyi]

Hi fellow martial arts practitioners,

Is there any of you who have/had practiced or cross-trained in Chinese Martial Arts? 

We practice Wudang Sang Fang sect  Kung fu, Xing Yi, Taiji, Qi gong Bagua, and Northern Eagle claw and Southern Eagle claw from another Lineage.  My instructor Ken Baker learned from Zhong Xuechao (Master Bing), a 15th generation Wudang Sanfang sect Kungfu Master and Tseng, Yun Xiang a 14th generation  Wudang Sanfang sect Master (we also got many of our Northern Eagle claw, Shaolin Mantis and Snake forms from these Wudang monks that were sent from the monistary to learn other styles)

What is your views on Kung Fu (Wing Chun, Praying Mantis, White Crane, Shaolin Quan, etc...) I had trained in Karate (wado-ryu) for nearly 10 years before, I've been training by myself ever since.  

I started out in Kyokushin Karate (hard style kickboxing), Shotokan (with heavy Shorin ryu influence but was still very rigid/ hard style) Ryukyu Kempo incorporated a lot more grappling and Aikijutsu style joint attacks (similar to Taiji and eagle claw Chin Na with arresting and controlling Jing to open and set up nerve strikes/ Kyusho) Matsubayashi was much more flowing and less rigid than any of the other styles of Karate I have done But my instructor (Larry Williams) did Eagle claw and Pai Lum Kung Fu as well so I'm sure that had some influence as he taught Matsubayashi as a 50/50 hard/soft (recieve and give simultaneously) style. Wudang goes from soft Taiji to pretty hard Kung fu and many of the older forms incorporate Taiji, Xing Yi, Bagua all in the same form. https://youtu.be/7CjuxDo3nr4

I want to get back to an actual martial art school, the thought came through my mind that maybe studying Kung Fu for a change may be beneficial.

It can definitely be beneficial! Chi Sao or Kake Drills with Muay Thai/Catch Wrestling type of clinch work (which can be found in most forms Karate or Kung fu forms) helps develope sensitivity and stability needed for in close fighting. The Wudang stretching, Yi Jin Jing, Pointing Therapy and massage that I found boring 25 years ago help me and my MMA classes stay training and fighting hard every day!

I did a bit of Wing Chun before.

What's your views of Kung Fu in general?

I've heard Wing Chun had been supplemented into many different Kung fu systems as the in close fighting system like many schools use BJJ or Boxing today.

Forms look more fluid, more internal and less stiff.  The curriculum looks wider as well (weapons, chin na, striking, internal stuff, etc...). 

I learned all of that in Karate as well but the Healing and internal part is much more straight forward in Wudang Taiji/Qigong and helped me overcome many old injuries and increased my flexibility and energy.  The Ryukyu Kempo Instructor I train with is also a  licensed  Acupuncturist and teaches Taiji so the Tuite/Chin Na and Kyusho is all  interrelated. The Wudang monks usually train in other systems (Shaolin, Wing Chun, Eagle Claw, etc.) and have regular student exchanges with many other schools.

Would you say Kung Fu is deeper than Karate in general while Karate is simpler and more straightfoward (in a good way I mean)?

I've been taught Kung fu infused Karate and Karate infused  Kung fu for so long I have no Idea where one stops and the othere begins.

 

How does all of this translate to actual fighting/sparring?

The soft Style or Neija is supposed to be the Idea behind Aiki jujutsu and Harmonizing or going with the opponents energy. The JU from Judo or Jujutsu I believe is referring to being supple\flexible and not meeting force with force head on but accepting and redirecting is related to if not synonymous with the soft/yin/Neija style that was preported to be designed to fight Hard/Yang style fighters. I Use the principles all the time in my classes and we're succeessful in many diferent types of fighting MMA, Judo, Jujutsu, other :)

Long story short what's your views on Karate vs Kung Fu or Japanese Martial Arts vs Chinese Martial Arts.

Generally the flow in Quans seem to be more natural to fighting than the average flow done in Karate Kata (Matsubayashi is different very flowing for Karate) Way too much stopping and freezing done in most Karate Kata  (what some call Kime) reducing the impact/power of strikes or breaks. Karate Kata are usually in close (like Wing chun) and The distances vary more in Kung fu Quans. 

Thank you,

Jeb