What Is The Best Kung Fu Style?
There are many different styles of kung fu, but is there a 'best' style or is it more a matter of personal choice?
Is There a 'Best' Kung Fu Style?
Kung fu is mainly a martial arts style that involves blocks, hand strikes, and kicks as a mode of defense against attackers. Some styles of kung fu may also involve the use of throws and joint locks. Both hard (meeting force with force) and soft (in which an aggressor’s strength is used against them) techniques. Kung fu is also famous for its flowing forms of fighting.
This art is connected to Buddhist and Taoist principles that are often learned along with the physical aspect, which is to defend against an opponent by using strikes to rapidly defeat them.
There are more than 400 substyles of kung fu. In general, thee northern styles, such as Shaolin and Long Fist, prioritize wide stances and kicks, while the southern styles, which include Wing Chun and Choi Li Fut, focus more on using the hands and narrower stances.
Shaolin style is probably the best-known style, having been portrayed in many movies and books and featuring the monks who developed and practiced it in their temples. The modern day style incorporates a range of styles such as the eight drunken immortals, bird style, northern fist, southern fist, monkey style, tiger style and mantis style. It is difficult to define this style; depending of which styles one practices, it may be hard or soft, external or internal, or any combination.
Long Fist kung fu emphasizes athleticism more; there is also more emphasis on stances. In Chang Quan, there are a lot of hand and foot strikes, and gripping and joint locks are also part of the training. It is often said to look quite acrobatic.
In the Wing Chun tradition, balance is key; the elbows are kept close to the body and the stance is very narrow. Arms are placed to protect vital areas in the centerline and attacks originate from this very protective, stable position. This style is also very well-known for using rapid strikes and kicks and using the centerline to decide on a defensive position.
Choy Li Fut has a variety of stances and focuses on strikes. The upper body is often held at an angle in order to provide less body mass to strike. Many hand strikes that come from the fist, open hand, and claw hand are used and kicks are often common.
So which style is the best? There is no “best” style; it really comes down to the practitioner and what they are choosing the style for. Many may choose a style for health reasons while others may want to use it for self-defense or to compete. It may depend on philosophical outlook, goals, or physical capabilities. Whatever the case, there is a style suited to each practitioner; kung fu is definitely not a “one size fits all” practice.