This is the first in a regular series of articles about Eastern philosophy and culture and, in particular, about the ancient Chinese art of kung fu, which I have had the privilege of practicing and teaching over the past seventeen years.
Kung fu has been made famous in the West as a martial art by Bruce Lee. However, it is more than just a way of fighting. It is a discipline that combines the philosophies of Daoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, and the esoteric practices of meditation, breathing exercises and gymnastics that are thousands of years old, with the even older indigenous Chinese martial techniques. The first written evidence of this fruitful combination dates back to the period of the 4th to 2nd centuries BC.
In China, kung fu is taught as a way of life rather than just a means of self defence and its principles of dedicated practice to perfect and internalise a skill, are seen as something that can be applied to all sorts of art forms, including calligraphy, painting, music, the carving of jade or of wood, Chinese medicine, cooking, and, of course, martial arts.
All of these arts are subject to the same laws of the balance of Yin and Yang, the correct application of breath energy called Qi, and the hidden rhythms of the Dao – the Way – the single underlying principle of the Universe.
To find out more, visit www.fwckungfu.com/clubs/muswell-hill
Danil Mikhailov is a kung fu instructor and scholar. He is the author of The History and Philosophy of Kung Fu: An Introduction, available now on Amazon.