History of Kung Fu
Kung Fu is the general term used in popular vocabulary to refer to Chinese martial arts. Kung fu is a very broad term used that has been used to classify all Chinese martial arts under one umbrella. Chinese martial arts come in a wide variety of styles that range from those that mimic the movements of animals to those that are inspired by philosophies, myths, and legends, and even styles that focus on internal and external forces like qi and physical fitness. Some styles are even categorized geographically. No matter how different the styles can be in their approach, they were all developed to solve the common problems of self-defense, health, and self-cultivation with a Chinese approach.
Kung fu traces its roots as far back as 4,000 years ago during the Xia Dynasty. Like many other martial arts, China's martial arts were developed at first for self-defense. Kung fu in China was initially developed for self-defense as well as for hunting activities and military training in the ancient world. After its beginnings in hand to hand combat and weapons training, kung fu grew to encompass different philosophies and ideas. Confucius suggested in 509 BC that ordinary citizens outside the military should pursue not only literary arts but the martial arts as well.
Modern Chinese martial arts, kung fu, were profoundly shaped between 1912 and 1949. As China transitioned from the fall of the Qing Dynasty through Japan's invasion and occupation and finally battling through the Chinese Civil War, martial artists were encouraged to teach their art to the masses making knowledge of kung fu accessible to the general public. After the Chinese Civil War, kung fu began to spread internationally as many well known martial artists fled the rule of the new People's Republic of China. During the late 1960s and 1970s the Communist government subjected kung fu to radical transformations including encouraging citizens to refer to Chinese martial arts by the term Kuoshu rather than the more colloquial kung fu. In recent years the government of China has opened up to alternative view points with both traditional and modern styles of martial arts being promoted by the government as an integral part of Chinese culture.