Kung fu (Gong fu)
Presuming that Kung fu Practitioners should know that the term “gong fu” means work, effort, skill, (as the term Wu shu should be used instead for defining the Martial Arts panorama in Chinese Culture), and that all styles of Kungfu ultimately derive from the Shaolin Cultural Heritage, Kungfu in the modern era is divided into two main branches: Northern and Southern Styles.
Northern Styles (Chang Quan)
Characterized by remarkably wide and agile movements, where flexibility is the key strength, these styles are way more dynamic compared to Southern ones (Nan Quan). This is exactly where Norther styles express their full potential: flying kicks, acrobatics, extendable weapons … athletic gestures that only open spaces could allow in ancient China.
Southern Styles (Nan Quan)
Characterized by short-range movements, their positioning in Chinese Martial Arts is justified by the population density where these styles spread. As a matter of fact, life conditions where it was necessary to use them (for confronting thieves, bandits or just accounting regulations), did not allow people to perform a particular flying or whatsoever long-range kick, just due to limited space. Nan quan styles are distinct for their short range movements (a clear example of Nan quan style is Wing Chun). In addition, the approachability of Nan quan styles allowed people of all ages to learn them, because they have the obvious advantage of “going straight to the point” in terms of defence, and not having to train extreme stretching exercises in order to achieve long range movements that didn’t suit the overpopulate streets of the city. Southern styles are indeed the cradle of famous styles like, Wing chun, Xing Yi quan and countless others.