Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I have heard that Chinese martial arts are categorized by the terms Northern and Southern. What does this mean?Chinese martial arts are the oldest and most complex. These arts, refined and perfected in China, were preserved mainly within family clans and religious temples, and taught only to a select few. While Karate was primarily brought to the West by Americans after WWII and the Korean War and Tae Kwon Do was promoted as a martial sport after the 1950’s, it is only within the past 20 to 30 years that Chinese martial arts have become widely accessible to the West. With hundreds of styles, it is difficult to unify so many different perspectives!CATEGORIZING STYLES OF CHINESE MARTIAL ARTS

A: Northern and Southern refer to the geographical region of origin and/or development. In China, the Yangzi River is the arbitrary line of division. Northern styles are those which are derived from regions north of the Yangzi River, and Southern styles are those which originate to the south.

Q: What about the terms, Internal and External styles. Which is better for me?

A: These terms are commonly used, however they are misconceived and inaccurate notions. In reality, any good style of martial art should have a balance of both internal and external principles. These two principles are combined and manifest in the training theories and methods, techniques, and philosophy of a given style of martial art.

Q: What other ways are martial arts categorized?

A: Another categorization method pertains to combat ranges and is based upon body mechanics. These ranges are long, medium, short and close (touching) range.

The Eight Primary Divisions of Empty Hand Combat (Badaleixing) is based on body mechanics and power generation principles:

  • Soft, Relaxed Movements,
  • Soft Movements with Occasional Emissions of Explosive Force,
  • Soft and Quick Movements,
  • Total Explosive Power,
  • High Stance, Short Strike,
  • Low Stance, Solid Root,
  • Mobile Attack and Defense,
  • and Ground Movements.

This method represents the most accurate method of categorizing styles of kung fu. In fact, every form of any martial art style can fit into one of these eight categories which represent the principle focus of the majority of movements, or, the essence of the forms.