CRUCIAL ELEMENTS THAT DIFFERENTIATE KUNGFU FROM OTHER FIGHTING ARTS
What are the most crucial elements that distinguish Chinese kungfu from all other fighting arts?-- Sifu Zhang Wuji
If I am to pick the most crucial element that distinguishes Chinese kungfu from most other fighting arts, I would choose internal force. It separates Chinese kungfu from all other martial arts.
Because Chinese kungfu focuses on internal force, whereas other martial arts don't, it results in many manifestations. For example, due to internal force, age, gender and size are not crucial in Chinese kungfu, but this is not the case in other martial arts. An elderly, fragile-looking lady can be more powerful and more combat efficient than a young, muscular man, whereas in other martial arts a young man is normally stronger than an elderly person, a man normally stronger than a woman, and one with big muscles normally stronger than one who is smaller sized.
Because of internal force, Chinese kungfu training contributes to health, vitality and longevity, whereas other martial arts do not! This may come as a surprise to many people, and some may be angry at the statement, but it is to their benefit to know the truth.
The truth is that other martial arts may contribute to the practitioners' combat efficiency and physical fitness, but not to their health, vitality and longevity. This does not mean that those who practice other martial arts cannot be healthy, have vitality and enjoy longevity. They can, but it is due to other reasons, and not due to their martial art training. On the other hand, even leaving aside other reasons, just by practicing Chinese kungfu alone contributes to the practitioners' health, vitality and longevity.
Why is this so? It is because of internal force training in Chinese kungfu, which involves energy flow, whereas in other martial arts the training is physical which involves muscular tension and mental stress.
In other martial arts, energy is spent during training, resulting in practitioners having less energy after the training than before. As good health, vitality and longevity depends on the amount and smoothness of energy flow, a reduction of energy due to physical training detracts from good health, vitality and longevity. On the other hand, in kungfu training, energy flow is generated, resulting in practitioners having an increase in both volume and smoothness of energy flow after the training than before. This contributes to good health, vitality and longevity.
In internal force training, practitioners need to be physically and mentally relaxed. This further enhances their energy flow, resulting in better health, vitality and longevity. In other martial art training, which is physical, practitioners tense their muscles so as to generate physical strength, which also results in mental stress. This causes energy blockage which further distract from health, vitality and longevity.
Internal force training is actually found in all styles of kungfu, though it is not obvious in so-called external styles! It is taught right at the start of all kungfu styles -- in the form of stance training. It lays the foundation of kungfu, which is not just strengthening practitioners' legs as many students erroneously believe, but a training of energy and mind.
In their practice, kungfu practitioners of all styles are to be physically and mentally relaxed. It is only when they are relaxed, can they explode internal force, or "fatt keng" in Cantonese, "fa jing" in Mandrin pronunciation. I remember that when I was small I heard and read stories of masters of so-called external styles, like Wing Choon and Praying Mantis, exploding internal force when fighting. Leong Chan, a famous Wing Choon master who was slender and elegant, for example, could fell an able-bodied opponent with just a single palm strike.
However, genuine kungfu with internal force training is now very rare. Many kungfu students today not only bounce about like Boxers but also adopt physical training of other martial arts like weight lifting and rope skipping. It is like throwing away gems for stones.
-- Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
The above discussion is reproduced from the thread 20 Questions for Grandmaster: Choy-Li-Fatt and Kungfu against Other Styles in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.