Classifying all the martial arts that make up the umbrella term of kung fu is extremely difficult. Several classification systems and standards may be used for all kung fu forms.
Geographical categorization is the first category that might be used. The northern and southern styles are the two main groupings under this system, although it is also possible to categorize styles depending on a more specialized place like a hamlet, town, or state.
The distinction between internal and exterior styles is another categorization, although most observers concur that it is outmoded and fails to emphasize their differences. Styles can also be categorized according to the religious influences that are evident in their ideologies; in this case, we discuss Islamic, Taoist, and Buddhist styles. These are all current categorization schemes.
There have also been several more ancient systems, which are today considered to be historical. The mythical and historical styles, familial styles, imitation styles, and styles based on the primary style assaulting type are a few of these systems.
As we have shown, it is nearly impossible to categorize and define every form of kung fu in a single short essay. As a result, we’ve chosen to examine the top seven trends, providing you with a brief rundown of their fundamental traits:
Shaolin Kung Fu
The most well-known and widely practised form of kung fu is arguably Shaolin Kung Fu. Shaolin was created more than a thousand years ago at the renowned Shaolin Temple and is strongly tied to the doctrine of Zen Buddhism. It makes use of a variety of self-defence methods, such as punches and kicks.
Only one kung fu form is named after a woman, Yim Wing Chun. A nun and a tofu saleswoman established it, and it has its roots in southern China, dating back almost 300 years. Wing Chun concentrates on close-quarters combat, and upper body moves, like punches, like most southern forms.
Along with Shaolin, Tai Chi is among the two most well-known kung fu forms worldwide. It is a naturally inward style with Taoist elements that date back to the 12th century. Both nonviolence and the idea of Yin and Yang are fundamental to Tai Chi.
Northern Praying Mantis
One of the odd martial arts forms is the Northern Praying Mantis. It is recognized for its swiftness and sequential movement’s structure and stresses footwork along with upper body motions. The Monkey Style is a similar fashion trend centred on mimicking animal motions.
One of the three primary internal kung fu styles is baguazhang. It is a comparatively modern fashion trend that originated in the 19th century. Similar to Tai Chi, it is heavily influenced by Taoism and is known for its slow, fluid motions. Both in philosophy and footwork, the Yin and the Yang are crucial concepts.
Xing Yi Quan
Xing Yi Quan is the third and last part of the “internal triad,” which also includes Tai Chi and Baguazhang. The most geriatric of the three, it contradicts practically all of its tenets while being categorized as an internal style.
The final style examined in this essay is bajiquan. Since several local bodyguards have received training, it is often referred to as the “bodyguard style” in China. This fighting technique is recognizable for its rapid, driving punches to the chest region as well as the strength of its elbow.
Kung Fu belts
Around 1900, coloured belts started being used in Chinese kung fu. Initially, there was no hierarchy, and everyone was “graded” and praised according to their abilities. However, as the designs evolved and took more cues from outside sources, coloured belts started to be included in the art. Age was a status marker, and older practitioners were valued more highly than younger ones.
What Does the Kung Fu Belt Order Imply?
Some schools still favour the ancient method without belts, where it’s the instructor that determines the pupil’s rank, even though most kung fu schools utilize coloured belts nowadays. But in this discussion, we’ll focus on the first.
Students begin with a white belt, as is normal. Since the belts are made of silk and were initially coloured as the student progressed, it seemed natural that each succeeding colour would be more profound than before. Pre-coloured belts are available today, so you no longer need to dye your belt repeatedly. The following is the traditional colour scheme:
Three basic categories, beginner belts, middle-class belts, and expert belts, are used to classify the nine trainee belts, all of which come before the black belt. A pupil can advance to a higher belt by performing demonstrations of the techniques he has learned. Even if a small percentage of colleges have their rankings, make sure you do your research before enrolling.
Beginner Belts in the Kung Fu Classification Structure
Beginner instruction covers fundamental strikes, blocks, stances, and other abilities in addition to a few accessible practice forms. The white belt, which stands for a fresh start, is not counted among the three main categories because it is a beginner’s belt given for no reason other than enrollment. The pupil will go through these levels in the following order: yellow, gold, and orange are the novice belts. The three colours represent the following:
- 2nd Degree(yellow): This colour depicts the first light of sunshine and symbolizes interest.
- 3rd Degree(Orange): This shade of colour stands for a transitional period between initial interest and the commitment that follows with the orange belt.
- 4th Degree(Gold): This colour represents a student’s willpower; since he has acquired some abilities, he is energized and eager to learn more.
Middle-Class Belts in the Kung Fu Classification Structure
Progressing through the middle stages of kung fu practice often requires one to two years. Intermediate-level instruction will teach you more complex blows, postures, and self-defence combinations. Additionally, it can involve some fundamental teaching practice as you might be given a younger pupil to work with. The three colours represent the following:
- 5th Degree(Green): This colour represents a learner’s development as he develops his abilities.
- 6th Degree(Blue): Blue represents control and serenity as the learner develops his body and mind.
- 7th Degree(Purple): As the pupil gains self-assurance, they also get more substantial. The colour purple represents strength and aspiration.
Expert Class Belts in the Kung Fu Classification Structure
The final two hues, brown and red, stand for specialized training belts and are the last belts one must obtain before receiving a black belt. A pupil who has advanced to this level must be able to comprehend kung fu in addition to using its fighting techniques. To attain these levels typically takes three to four years. The two colours represent the following:
- 8th Degree (Brown): A brown belt represents a student’s solidity at this level and his seriousness and responsibility, like the earth.
- 9th Degree (Red): Red represents vigour, assurance, and a student’s leadership. Although he is still a student, he is motivated to grow and share his expertise with peers and other pupils.
Kung Fu’s Black Belt in the Classification Structure
The highest rank you can get in kung fu is a black belt. It represents your mastery of all the skills required to become a teacher. Achieving a black belt, however, does not signify that you have finished; there are higher degrees. After 11 to 12 years of training, you will have earned your eighth black belt, which also confers the title of master.
Kung Fu Belts: Who Awards Them?
There is no central authority that oversees the regulations of kung fu, in contrast to other martial arts. While the Global Kung Fu Federation can provide some advice and support, its power over the laws and rules is limited to advisory status. Therefore, the belts are regulated by each particular school or the organization to which the school belongs. Because of this, certain institutes do not adhere to the broad structure outlined in the paragraphs mentioned above. Therefore, you must educate yourself about the institution you intend to attend.