Kung Fu 功夫
Shaolin Kung Fu Guan

Chinese martial arts describes the enormous variety of martial art styles originating in China. Kung fu功夫 or Wushu 武術 are popular Chinese terms that describe Chinese martial arts. In reality, Wushu and Kung fu have very different definitions which both describe not only the separate categories of martial arts study that they embody, but exist as blanket Chinese terms not always referencing martial arts. Colloquially, kung fu (or gong fu) alludes to any individually cultivated skill. Wushu is a more precise term that refers to martial activities in general, and has also become the name for a modern sport similar to gymnastics involving the performance of adapted Chinese bare-handed and weapons forms (taolu 套路) judged to a set of contemporary aesthetic criteria for points.

Traditional Chinese martial arts training is for health and self-defense. China has one of the longest histories of continuously recorded martial arts tradition of any society in the world, and with hundreds of styles probably the most varied. Over the past two to four thousand years, many distinctive styles have been developed, each with its own set of techniques and ideas. There are also common themes to the different styles, which are often classified by "families" (家, jiā), "sects" (派, pai) or "schools" (門, men) of martial art styles.

There are styles that mimic movements from animals and others that gather inspiration from various Chinese philosophies, myths and legends. Some styles put most of their focus into the belief of the harnessing of qi energy, while others concentrate solely on competition and exhibition.

Each style offers a different approach to the common problems of self-defense, health and self-cultivation. Chinese martial arts can be split into various categories to differentiate them: For example, external (外家拳) and internal (内家拳). Chinese martial arts can also be categorized by location, as in northern (北拳) and southern (南拳) as well, referring to what part of China the styles originated from, separated by the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang); The main perceived difference about northern and southern styles is that the northern styles tend to emphasize fast and powerful kicks, high jumps and generally fluid and rapid movement, while the southern styles focus more on strong arm and hand techniques, and stable, immovable stances and fast footwork.

There are distinctive differences in the training between different groups of Chinese martial arts regardless of the type of classification. Chinese martial arts training consists of the following components: basics, forms, qi gong, philsophy, applications, weapons and wu de. Each style of Chinese martial arts has its own unique training system with varying emphasis on each of those components.