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Usually recalled as the more subtle form of martial arts, subdued and behind the spotlight, the old art form of Kung Fu is now gaining popularity among martial arts enthusiasts as well as among people seeking for a kind of natural balance in their day-to-day lives. Not only is it of a new interest because of its cinematic depiction in movies, but also many are beginning to reconsider it and slot it in to their tightly scheduled week because of its benefits that are continuously rising to the surface.
The majority of the old movies depict Kung Fu as the wise, calm yet powerful martial art while the modern versions show the greatness and the real brutal power that it can muster up from a person, as this art is added up of different methods that pinpoint accurate pressure points of the body. If used for the wrong purposes, Kung Fu can be very dangerous and even deadly, but if used in a good way, it will benefit the individual and the people around him or her.
Historically, Kung Fu was the training that prepared one to be a fighter, and most claim that it was taught by the monks. Others claim it was primarily practiced and developed by the military in ancient times. Over the years many styles of this ancient art developed. Today people learning Kung Fu concentrate on the spiritual growth that brings with it mental and physical strength, through the balance and power of spirit, energy and emotions. The essence of Kung Fu all lies in the element of energy. Mr Liao Wen Cheng was trained and certified in Chinese martial arts by the Guang Xi University, Kung Fu department in China and trained under 4 different masters. He explains how important it is to channel the energy (through breathing) using it to protect the health.
It is not just about the technique, but one must learn to collect the power by relaxing and collecting the chi and learn how to use one's mental strength. He says "It is a process of meditation to achieve collective power. We must be very quiet in the beginning in order to find our original chi". Besides increasing one's physical strength, the benefits of Kung Fu lead a person to be "calm and focused with more energy and alertness. A person becomes stronger on the inside, more confident. You make it your life". Physical strength is always compared in martial arts, he adds "Any kind of kick is good but it's the use of chi that gives the power, it is the root of learning kung fu".
Nature has always been a part of martial arts in general, not only in the scenic backgrounds in the television shows and movies. What most do not know is that it is also found in the descriptions of the techniques used in Kung Fu. "To act like a lightning stroke" or "to move like a gust of wind". One method that is described as "The golden pheasant stands in solitude. He presses the moon to his breast" means he gathers the energy and then uses it to power the kick. All this relates back to the principle of energy that exists all around us, and from which we are to gather our strength, whether it is from the waves of the ocean or even the slow but mysterious and tactful movement of a turtle.
There are up to 72 different styles of Kung Fu. Wuushu for example, is solely for demonstration, popular for competitions. Others include San Shou (Chinese kick boxing), for self-defence and the traditional style of Tai Chi, Xingyichuan, Xin Yi Lu He Quan and Yi Chuan, which develop the balance and power of spiritual and physical strength, and also offer enormous health benefits. Xingichuan develops very good muscle tone through out the body. Masters of this type of training call it "the architectural foundation".
On a spiritual level, Tai Chi also means "the way of supreme harmony". It is the most popular one for dealing with stress in day-to-day life. Movements are mild and natural without using extra force. The circular, flowing and effortless movements enable the fluent flow of vital energy throughout the body to achieve optimum health benefits. These include improving the immune function, improved concentration and calming of the mind, stress reductions and increasing the lungs' capacity to use oxygen. All of the above classes are taught at the Pharaohs club.
Kirmana, a dedicated student of Tai Chi says he choose to learn Kung Fu because "It basically is a very useful kind of art, to develop good health as it generates the body and keeps you calm and centred, it is also a good way of keeping fit". He adds "it benefits the energy system, which can be used to develop the martial art, by cultivating energy through meditation and many methods. Other martial arts don't have this concept".
Others are keenly interested in learning the sport because of its effect on decision-making and problem-solving in every day situations. Mohammed, who will be starting classes soon says "I've always been fascinated by this ancient art, and I also think that it will change my life in so many ways because it teaches you to be a patient person and also teaches that everything in life is achieved in small steps rather than rushing into something".
A good source of meditation and problem-solving techniques, this is a nice technique to try and beat stress and lead a calm, less agitated and less anger-prone lifestyle by balancing the energy of your emotions.
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