What is WuShu Kung Fu?
First one should translate the term properly into English WuShu is Mandarin for Martial Arts, So technically WuShu refers to anything inside the Martial Arts world as seen from a Chinese perspective. In Japanese it would be said Bu jutsu, in French artes de martriex. But in the modern times the word has come to refer specifically to modern Chinese martial art forms competition, generally recognized by the faster more artistic expressions of the forms with difficult maneuvers added to enhance competitiveness and demonstration factor. WuShu Kung Fu is an international competition sport in which more than 80 countries currently participate officially. WuShu Kung Fu is also currently under review to become an official Olympic competition sport. But what is WuShu Kung Fu? Many countries have fighting styles but what makes it a martial art is the art and the culture behind it. WuShu Kung Fu has Chinese culture deeply intertwined into it. This separates it from other martial arts and makes it stand apart from other fighting styles. Without this thorough infusion of China’s culture and history, it would just be fighting.
Self defense is one of the first reasons many people will consider taking martial arts classes. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that most people believe it is the point of taking such a class. However, though WuShu Kung Fu is a fighting system in takes many years of practice and repetition before its benefit as a self defense system can be had. This is true of any martial art – Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian; you name it, no matter what they tell you. While the other benefits of taking martial arts classes (fitness, discipline, challenge, etc.) have immediate results, a martial arts system takes years of learning before it can be used effectively to fight with. Self defense classes, women’s in particular, generally have a different aim than martial arts classes. They strive to teach confidence, awareness, empowerment, confrontation skills and a few simple strikes in a very short period of time, in order to make the average person more likely to be able to defend themselves in case of a physical attack. FBI journals have shown that a large number of attacks can be avoided using good verbal and spatial skills and that is what a good self defense class should focus on. That being said, taking WuShu Kung Fu classes does tend to raise confidence fairly quickly which raises awareness and you are constantly learning techniques that, given enough practice, will be much more effective than any technique you could learn in a self defense class, as long as you are willing to put in the work and time. Here at WuShu Kung Fu Fed, Inc. we teach the practical application for every technique you learn, so deciding to take a WuShu Kung Fu class for self defense is fine as long as you are aware of the difference and can enjoy the other aspects of practicing it until proficiency is reached.
Learning self-discipline and focus is another reason many people study WuShu Kung Fu, and a primary reason many parents will place their children in it. WuShu Kung Fu teaches self-discipline and focus very naturally. It is the side effect of learning to use our mind to make our body do things that it isn’t always comfortable or familiar with. This does not mean making it do things that would injure it, but rather slowly and surely asking more of yourself under the guidance of trained instructors, then seeing the astonishing results that come from doing so. In fact, one of the most well kept secrets of people who study WuShu Kung Fu is the feeling of satisfaction that comes from knowing you have mastery over your body and that any thing you set for yourself to accomplish, you can eventually achieve simply because you’ve decided to. That’s a healthy understanding that can benefit anyone at any age!
Some people love the structure of sports and enjoy training for competitions for the love of a challenge and to stay fit. Many people will play all through college then suddenly find there are no more structured sports offered to them. They may try to get together with friends but find it difficult to keep things going on an informal basis. WuShu Kung Fu as a sport has been organized for some time and there are both national and international WuShu Kung Fu competitions. In fact, WuShu Kung Fu is on the docket to become an Olympic sport and will be an exhibition sport in the 2008 Beijing games. Competitions are comprised of floor routines (similar to a gymnastics competition) with empty hands and weapons as well as San Shou (a type of sparring) and are divided by age and levels from beginner to master, so anyone who desires can start competing after a few months of training. For children there is no sitting on a bench hoping to be in the game this time, everyone gets to compete. Competing in tournaments is not mandatory at WuShu Kung Fu Fed, Inc. but we do give competition level training to those who want it.
When you are surrounded by people with the same interest as you, who can appreciate how hard you are working to make improvements in your WuShu Kung Fu, a natural comradeship develops. Many of our students actually name the social aspect as one of the main reasons they keep coming back. As a WuShu Kung Fu practitioner you do not rely on your teammates to win or get better, that is up to you and how hard you are willing to train, however, their support is still there and makes learning and growing that much more enjoyable and fun.
What is the difference between WuShu and Kung Fu?
The literal translation of WuShu is martial arts, while the literal translation of Kung Fu is time spent with work. One of the biggest problems in understanding martial arts is the improper use of terms. Perhaps a clearer way to look at the term Kung Fu is to express it as acquired skill level. So the term Kung Fu can be used to describe anyone who has a high level of skill in any endeavor, but it takes on a special meaning in the world of martial arts. As a result of many films and television series the continued use of the term Kung Fu has simply come mean Chinese martial arts for most people, even some Chinese use this term to refer to martial arts, but this is a result of popularity of the word, mostly from Hong Kong films. The relationship between the two terms can be more specifically looked at as WuShu simply being the root, and Kung Fu is a proficiency of the skills there in. the ability to apply those techniques as a result of diligent study, practice, and applied experience. With the factors one can be said to have Kung Fu.
What good are forms to a martial artist?
There are many uses even for those who have no desire to compete. Firstly, practice of forms builds the basics of martial arts. In any style learned. Beginning with one stance, then a technique later stringing them together into lines, and eventually full sets. No martial artist can progress properly without proper attention to basic techniques. Forms develop these skills to ready the practitioner for trials ahead. Beyond this form practice is an incredible cardiovascular workout, it pushes the athletic potential of the body. Mental focus is also developed. Learning sets of complex maneuvers is a great mental task, and increases mind body coordination and opens neuropathies. Coordination, balance, speed, strength, flexibility, timing are just a few of the qualities which set training reinforces.
As most experienced fighters will tell you, you can not practice a set or form that will show you how to deal with every combat situation. This has to do mostly with athletic condition, reflexes, strength, some luck, and much experience. Forms give you a physical and mental foundation, and in most cases if you want to learn how to fight, you have to actually fight. Experience is the only real teacher of how to get off your techniques effectively. Training can only prepare you so much, but form training, especially WuShu Kung Fu, will give you certain physical advantages, such as a broader range of movement, additional strength, and fluidity of movement, all of which are never useless.
How long does it take to get good?
This is up to you. There is no set time. But you have to be realistic. Many people watch films and see an apprentice gain skills at an alarming rate and pull off amazing moves with minimal training. First realize that those are films for entertainment. Most of the actors have had those skills for a long time and worked long to get them, and the really amazing skills, are usually achieved with wires, smoke, trampolines, and a great deal of good film editing.
If you want to be good, you have to train with everything in your being. It is not a good idea to set time limits. A common mistake is for people to say I want to be at a certain level by this date. While it is good to have goals, it is hard to limit yourself to the amount of time one has to achieve a certain skill level, and in most cases, this actually slows progress, as one tends to overlook the small but important details to achieve larger superficial results, thus leading to an eventual breakdown. Be patient, work hard, ask questions and try to improve on every lesson learned. Then improvement comes surprisingly fast.