What’s in a name…?

Mention the words Kung Fu and images of a Bruce Lee movie, flying kicks and exotic weaponry generally spring to mind to the uninitiated.

However, what we in the Western world refer to as Kung Fu has quite a different meaning in China and it’s one which makes you ponder the deeper significance of your martial arts training.


I’m a great believer that your practice shouldn’t stop when you leave the training hall behind.  The plethora of skills you develop through months and years of hard training in class should enrich the rest of your personal and even professional life.  Martial arts (and traditional martial arts in particular) are all about improving the individual holistically.


The word ‘Kung’ literally means ‘to work’ and the suffix ‘Fu’ means ‘with intensity’.

So you can see that Kung Fu literally has very little to do with martial arts. That is unless you use the essence of the meaning to allow your martial arts training to pervade your everyday life and ensure that everything you do, you do with ‘Kung Fu’.


The Chinese refer to Kung Fu as Wushu, which literally means ‘martial’ or ‘military’ (Wu) and ‘method’ (Shu).

The term Wushu is also used to refer to the modern competition forms based sport which is performed like a gymnastics routine devoid of martial application.

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