View Full Version : Did movies hurt Kung Fu

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Goju - Joe
1/01/2006 10:25pm,
I have enjoyed reading all the Kung Fu TCMA CMA threads that have come up in the last few days.

Besides a one hour semniar last year I know sweet F' all about Kung Fu.

Looking around though it seems that Kung Fu used to be a very "Alive" martial art about 40 years ago with students of it trying it out on each other in full contact fights.

What happend? Someone suggested it was the Kung Fu movies that hurt it as people wanted to learn what the saw on screen instead of learning how to fight, and that a lot of crappy teachers poped-up to take the money and do just that.

That seems the most likely.

What do the Kung Fu experts on the site think?

1/01/2006 10:30pm,
im no kung fu expert, but i think that that kung fu movies have hurt and helped kung fu, there are alot of kung fu stars that are actually great fighters, but like you said, kung fu movies made alot of fake kwoons come to be, but it also boosted the MA world, it also made alot of the martial artist out there want to begin martial arts (like Chuck Liddel).

heng fa
1/01/2006 11:42pm,
god knows some of them make me cringe.

1/01/2006 11:43pm,
heng fa are you really training at a shaolin temple?

Mr. Mantis
1/02/2006 12:34am,
No, I don't think movies "hurt" kung fu as a whole.

I think "kung fu" was hurt most by the cultural revolution than anything else. There has also always been a principle of secrecy, that's hurt it.
Another thing may be the society that most of us live in. There is not the same external motivation to become a great fighter.

I don't know, but these are my best guesses.

heng fa
1/02/2006 1:40am,
heng fa are you really training at a shaolin temple?



1/02/2006 1:44am,
I don't think its just movies. It's just not as socially acceptable for martial artists to go out and beat each other senseless in no-holds-barred free for all gong sau fights in the street and on rooftops anymore.
Back in the '60s, people apparently weren't such pansies... I can pretty much guarantee my instructor's instructor Wong Shun Leung wouldn't have been nearly as good as he was if not for the dozens of challenge fights he fought in Hong Kong when he was young.

1/02/2006 2:28am,
I'm gonna have to go with mantis on this one and blame the communists. The Cultural Revolution broke the society of martial arts that existed in China until the mid-20th century, dispersing its knowledge and its human base all over the world. Those that stayed behind were either forced to retire, teach in secret, or take up "kommunist kung fu" (wushu).

But also like some have said, the Western, modern materialistic society that we all live in does not make it easy to live the kind of lifestyle that people that truly trained in the martial arts did a few decades ago. My sifu's generation did, but things have changed since then.
That said, if many CMA studios would insitute programs similar to what BJJ has done, where you have a relatively controlled free-sparring environment where you can test your skills on fellow students; then I think that would go a long way to bring back some of the spirit that was lost.

I don't know how many of you out there have day jobs or are students, but like I said; to get ahead in this world and even make enough money to pay for martial arts lessons, it takes a LOT of time that could have been spent training and conditioning yourself.

heng fa
1/02/2006 2:58am,
no doubt the cultural revolution effected martial arts in china, but it's not like they were fully eradicated- it is not so easy to disrupt what is already an insular and relatively closed door practice to the point of no return, which seems to be the suggestion often heard when the CR and Chinese martial arts are brought up together in conversation. There are still martial lineages that exist that predate the great leap backward.

in the US, to be honest, I think TCMAs have been affected by the same shaping forces as all other martial arts- by things like the reality of the effectiveness of the gun- I mean the impact of that instrument alone can not be underestimated, teachers who leave before their training is complete, with further iterations depleting the curriculums, support of PRC compulsory wushu over TCMAs in the land of it's birth, gullibility of those suckered into chicanery, these things moreso than anything else have caused what can be seen as the deterioration of most martial arts, chinese ones included. I think if you think about it clearly, most martial artists, no matter what they train, are in a bit of a fantasy prep nowadays...anyway, the liveness is just common sense to good training for a particular kind of fighting and there are examples of it in TCMAs here in the US.

I see plenty of good TCMA around, it's just that the bad is so glaringly bad, lol...

1/03/2006 4:05am,
It's ironic that it's called a cultural revolution when a large chunk of their culture (maritial arts) became so watered down.

Dagon Akujin
1/03/2006 2:10pm,
This has happened to me a couple of times now:

It'll come up that I'm taking kung-fu, and some friend/idiot will start doing some flowery circling arms flailing manuver **** and say something really genius, like "Oh, kung-fu". I then step in and put my fist to their throat while saying an equally genius line like "We really just sit around all night and punch each other in the throat."

Sometimes they start their little video-game mockery again while waving their arms about, and say something else stupid like, "Oh, isn't kung-fu very blah blah circular blah blah soft?" So again I step in, place my other first on their throat, and say "Really, all we learn how to do is punch each other in the throat."


heng fa
1/03/2006 11:12pm,
It's ironic that it's called a cultural revolution when a large chunk of their culture (maritial arts) became so watered down.

you know what really suffered? I mean besides that...one thing that really suffered is the deposit of art. statuary...you go to luo yang and it's nothing but headless statues and armless statues- except for some of the really big ones. I'm generalizing but you get the point.

When I was in China, we were taken into this one temple, damned if I could remember where it was...I would have to look, but in one of the buddha halls, they bring us into a hallway that sits between the hall and the outside courtyard. It's just a long hall, with a curtain hanging there. They let us stand in there, I mean it was starting to get to where we were like, okaaaaaaaay...so here we are in the hallwaaaaaaaay....

Well this one monk, after we all crowd in and are standing there, he comes and stands at one end, the abbot stands in the middle of us next to Shi Yan Ming and Yan Gau, and they pull the curtain back...

Lo and behold, hidden behind the curtain was this sick painting, all done in ink wash, and according to the monk it was done without use of a brush but with finger dipped in ink...must have been 30 ft easy, with the Buddha on a lion and an Elephant...so the story goes that during the great leap backwards with the red guard raging through the city the monks took this painting and this is how they hid it, otherwise it would have been used to start cooking fires or some such **** like that.

I've told the story before about this painting and I will look for an image of it. It is pretty ill piece of work.

1/04/2006 12:15am,
yea but MA is a small price to pay for a countrys unity, other wise they would be fighting each other, and they wouldnt beable to keep up with the rest of the world.

1/04/2006 12:30am,
yea but MA is a small price to pay for a countrys unity, other wise they would be fighting each other, and they wouldnt beable to keep up with the rest of the world.And that, ladies and gentlemen, was why the Cultural Revolution was both so harmonious and so productive.

1/04/2006 12:42am,
Ok, you wanna know the REAL reason most Kung-Fu sucks ass?
In the past several generations,Kung-Fu has been intentionally taught completely ass-backwards.
Work with me.....let's look at it from a historical/practical level:
so we go back in time, and warriors are fighting battles, kingdom vs kingdom.
are you gonna teach your soldiers drill, drill, drill, conditioning, application,hands on, and fighting?-or forms first?
fast forward-fighting in the streets-are you gonna teach drills, drills, drills, application,hands on and conditioning, and fighting first, or forms?
fast forward again-no more battles, but schools are being set up-and of course fighting each other for domination-what do you teach first? Drills, drills, drills, application,fighting, hands on....or forms?
Fast forward again-schools are set up and now they need more students, because Sifus are making a kliving teaching Kung-Fu, so you do public demonstrations, and try to attract new students. What do you show?
A bunch of guys slamming each other, or really kewl looking forms?
What do they want to see? What do they want to learn? FORMS!
Fast forward again-Movies, Magazines, books, David Carradine, etc. Students want to learn the next cool form. "OOOHHH, the Mantis! Ahhhh, the Dragon!"
Now schools teach forms first, then some drills, maybe hands on and they MAYBE learn real application...maybe.
This leads to tournaments-forms competition, and ....sparring! Well, they can't fight with what they've been taught, allthe Kuh-rotty guys are kickin their asses, so ....they now incorperate kickboxing and tournament sparring into their curriculum. End result? Crap.
If you can actually seek out and find a real Kung-Fu school, you will see mostly people hitting bags, focus mits, etc, LOTS of hands-on drills, lots of conditioning, LOTS of CONTACT..REAL KUNG-FU......very few students.

need I say more?

heng fa
1/04/2006 1:20am,
yea but MA is a small price to pay for a countrys unity, other wise they would be fighting each other, and they wouldnt beable to keep up with the rest of the world.

HJL- that has to be a goddamn joke.


To be honest, I would disagree with some of the points in your post, unless I am reading it wrong because my eyes are now bleeding from an aneurism HJL burst. I usually find the good 'ol days themed argument baseless...there are good schools and teachers now, and there were back then too...I think shitty training has always been with the martial arts.

I think you always had "good" and "bad"...I mean there is a long history of masters demonstrating to get students, so that's not really a problem or function of weakening today. The truth is more like **** floats to the top.

These days you have quick and easy access to see the bad, and the good, which was never really the mainstream, it is still there but as it always was, relatively obscure, not easy to find, probably a little too tough for the general populace, etc.