“Modern Kung Fu” refers to the evolution and adaptation of traditional Chinese martial arts in response to changing times and incorporating elements from other disciplines such as sport and fitness. This approach often includes a greater emphasis on training methods, safety, and competition, as well as the incorporation of techniques from other martial arts and self-defence systems, such as kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Some examples of popular modern Kung Fu styles include Wing Chun, Shaolin Kung Fu, and Sanda (Chinese kickboxing).
Therefore, the term ‘The modern Kung Fu school’ is a first clue into the significant changes many trainers are adopting as part of training. Chief among these alterations are in the use of forms. Such differences have significantly altered the face of Kung Fu training, thus increasing the likelihood of your expecting one thing and getting something very different.
But such emphasis may be dredging up the question: why are these differences so significant? So, for a little more insight, here are a few things you should know about Kung Fu schools.
First, you must learn about forms.
In Kung Fu, forms (also known as “kata” or “tao lu” in Chinese) are pre-arranged sequences of movements that mimic the actions of self-defence or combat. These movements may include strikes, kicks, blocks, and grappling techniques and are often performed solo as a form of training and development. Forms can serve various purposes, such as improving technique, strength, flexibility, and coordination and building mental focus and discipline. Different Kung Fu styles have unique forms, and the level of complexity and difficulty can vary greatly. Some Kung Fu forms are designed for beginners, while others are for advanced practitioners.
However, the new approach to Kung Fu training has altered the original use of forms. Therefore, in many cases today, schools use forms for demonstration performances instead of their true purpose as part of the fighting. Unfortunately, this change diminishes the importance of forms to Kung Fu and skews the student’s and the public’s perception of these beautiful yet deadly movements.
One of the most common scenarios in Kung Fu schools today is where you only learn forms when practising for a demonstration. But when it comes time to spar or learn about fighting techniques, you will do something completely different, like putting on boxing gloves and training in kickboxing. Such switching can be significantly detrimental to your training. It short-changes any knowledge of or efficacy in Kung Fu and increases how long it takes to master one style.
So, if you want the full benefit of training in Kung Fu, it is best to opt for a school that emphasises the traditional teaching method. Such schools have a keen understanding of how to introduce and maximise the power of forms. In so doing, they ensure that you benefit from learning all the proper fundamentals of a system as well as establishing a foundation for martial arts training.
Therefore, it is best to carefully examine your goals for your training before enrolling in a Kung Fu school. These aims will steer you toward the best option while safeguarding optimal results and saving time.