Chinese kung fu is full of Chinese philosophies and core values. VCG
What springs to mind when you think of kung fu, also known as wushu? Maybe the image of Shaolin monks striking fierce poses with a stern look in their eyes, or popular children’s movies like Kung Fu Panda. But do they really portray the meaning of kung fu?
Recently, Laurence J. Brahm, a documentary filmmaker from the United States, explored this question in Searching for Kung Fu. In the movie, Brahm embarked on a kung fu pilgrimage, traveling to cities in China and the US in search of the origin and value of kung fu.
Brahm himself is a kung fu lover who has been devoted to the practice for more than 40 years. For him, pursuing this craft was more than a pastime.
Around a decade ago, Brahm was unable to use one of his legs for about two years and had to walk with crutches and a cane. But by practicing martial arts “very, very slowly” he was able to recover step by step. Now, kung fu has become a daily routine for him and also the way he greets the day.
“Martial arts can help us connect our body, connect our neural system, connect our blood flow, and also help connect us into our environment to increase our awareness. Martial arts is moving meditation,” Brahm said.
Still others find additional meaning in the practice.
“Chinese kung fu is full of Chinese philosophies and core values,” Hong Kong actor Bruce Leung told Xinhua.
Nonviolence is one of these values, which is shown both in the name and the practice. Wu, consists of two characters – ge, meaning “dagger-ax”, and zhi, meaning “to stop”. So, the meaning of kung fu in Chinese is the art of stopping fighting, the art of nonviolence. Kung fu artists always salute with baoquan. This lets each person know that there are no hidden weapons and shows trust.
Brahm’s appreciation of kung fu is clear. He sees it as “a mirror of Chinese culture”.
“The traditional values of kung fu, actually, are in the minds of all Chinese people. Why does China want to be in harmony with other nations? It’s part of the psychology of the Chinese people. It’s also national psychology,” Brahm told Xinhua.
Brahm also believes that today’s world urgently needs to restart equal exchanges between countries without stereotypes, and that culture and sports, such as kung fu, can serve as a great channel and platform.