(Chinese: Originally meaning "Hard Work" now generic term for especially
non-mainland China martial art types), is a martial art, both a form of exercise
with a spiritual dimension stemming from concentration and self-discipline
and a primarily unarmed mode of personal combat often equated with Karate
or Tae Kwon Do.
As a martial art, kung fu can be traced to the Chou dynasty
(1111-255 BC) and even earlier.
As exercise it was practiced by the Taoists
in the 5th century BC. Its prescribed stances and actions are based on keen
observations of human skeletal and muscular anatomy and physiology, and it
employs great muscular coordination. The various movements in kung fu, most
of which are imitations of the fighting styles of animals, are initiated from
one of five basic foot positions: normal upright posture and the four stances
called dragon, frog, horse riding, and snake.
There are hundreds of styles
of kung fu, and armed as well as unarmed techniques have been developed. Kung
fu performed as exercise resembles T'ai Chi ch'uan