The “kung fu” in Muay Thai, Kickboxing and MMA

21 Feb

There is much of value in traditional Chinese martial arts, AKA “kung fu”. Unfortunately today much of it is buried under layers of misunderstanding, misapplication and just pure nonsense. People who have no idea what real kung fu was about and how it was practice, and by WHOM it was practiced, have created elaborate myths to justify and legitimate their frauds. Yes, I am harsh about this issue, very harsh indeed.


With regards to misapplication, it appears the few practicing the art today are consciously aware that the art which was passed down within the past 100 years represents a fusion of three separate and at times contradictory activities.

Today’s kung fu people talk about fighting a lot, but very few of them actually do it. Very few of them actually know HOW to fight! Kung Fu was originally most definitely about fighting! General Qi Jiguang (1528-1587) was the author of two books, “New Book of Effective Discipline” (1561) and “Actual Record of Training” (1571). While the modern martial arts student probably has never heard of General Qi or either of these books, they are pretty important because they outline Chinese martial arts practice designed specifically for COMBAT. General Qi advocated hard training, physical conditioning and denounced the nonsense, i.e. the “flowery”. He was also describing a select set of techniques and tactics, most definitely NOT the massive, bloated “systems” we see today!

Contained in the kung fu curriculum, indeed in the forms themselves, are Yogic like practices. I use this term in a somewhat broad and encompassing sense; including both conditioning and callisthenic and the more esoteric Daoist and Buddhist “alchemy”. Regardless of how you view these, clearly things we were taught and which we practiced as part of our forms were NEVER designed for fighting! To try and find the applications to these things and apply them in fighting is a lost cause from the beginning.

Things designed to entertain, things designed to impress the uneducated masses and sell herbal medicines or lessons (or recruit people into various “organizations”), and things designed to misdirect people from understanding the true technique! YES INDEED! Misdirection! Demonstrating things you would never use in combat so your enemies will have false intelligence. And it worked so well that today people are trying to fight with these things!!!


So, when we understand and identify these issues, what are we left with? Actually, quite a lot!

1. “Harmony”
Rather than believing in mystical forces that can give us supernatural powers, we must understand these metaphors as a systematic integration of the entire body for maximum power generation and efficiency.

2. “Continuousness”
There are rather mundane but practical applications of this concept. There is also the larger picture of a smooth integration of combinations and techniques. Included in this is the seamless integration of striking with grappling and throwing, a skill set that real Chinese martial art may have achieved the highest level of.

3. Understanding the concepts of Taiji, Bagua, Seven Stars, Cross Pattern, Meridian stepping, etc as an advanced positional strategy (strategies) where footwork, body placement, distance and angles are used not only for defense but to create the optimum opportunities for attack and counter attack.

4. Using the “yogic” tradition as it was intended, not as fighting techniques but to condition the body for maximum athletic performance.

Of course, there are more, many more! But this is a good start…



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