While I will deliver on my promise to provide a very brief history of kung fu, I won’t unfortunately be providing dates, names, or its evolution. It wouldn’t be very brief if I did.
Nearly all the East Asian martial arts have their roots in Kung fu. China, as you probably know, was basically an empire that lasted 6000 years. But that is a very long time for an empire and so it went through many changes and many ups and downs.
Buddhism entered China from India, and this is where it got its start. During a ‘down’ period in China’s history, mountain bandits terrorized and ruled the countryside. Buddhist monks had a habit of traveling from temple to temple but in this period they were often robbed and murdered by the mountain bandits en route (the bandits were not too reverent apparently). So the monks decided to defend themselves, with deadly force if necessary, and they invented kung fu.
Despite all the fancy acrobatics you see in modern kung fu movies, to this day it is a form of hand to hand combat that is designed to bring down or even kill an opponent with a series of quick and strategic short range blows. Strength is an asset of course but with kung fu even an old man can bring down someone twice his size.
Many forms of kung fu have developed over the years, but my favorite has to be drunken style. Drunken style is unique in that the fighter does not actually mimic intoxication while fighting (unlike Jackie Chan’s comedy). Acting drunk is a tactic to lure your opponent and deceive him into thinking he has found an easy target. Mentally disarming him in this fashion, the defender waits for the attacker to get close enough (It is no good at a distance) and bam!, he lets the attacker have it and finishes him off in short order.
And that, briefly, is the story of kung fu.…