What is the difference between Shaolin Kung Fu and modern competitive martial arts?

Shaolin Kung Fu’s background stems from its religious culture. Modern competitive martial arts have few gender and age restrictions.

24 June, 2023

Xueyuan Yangchen

shaolin kungfu, TaiChi, martial arts, modern martial arts, TaiChi

What is Shaolin Kung Fu, and what is modern competitive martial arts?  Are they both the same? In today's article/video, I'll talk to you about the difference between the two.  

First, Shaolin Kungfu originated from Shaolin Temple in Lushan, China. Therefore, we call it Shaolin Kungfu. Shaolin Kungfu has more than 700 kinds of martial arts, and because of Zen in the martial arts, mind, and body connect. Practicing martial arts purifies body and mind. Therefore, it is called “martial arts Zen .”  

The first difference is: Shaolin Kung Fu does not accept women.

Shaolin Kung Fu’s background stems from its religious culture. Buddhist culture plays a vital role in Shaolin Kung Fu, so most people in the Shaolin Temple are monks, and Kung Fu is also taught to them by the master. Because women could not be monks like then men, in the early days, women and ordinary people could not go into Shaolin Temple in Lushan to learn Shaolin Kung Fu. Therefore, Shaolin Kung Fu people in Shaolin Temple in Lushan are all men. But now, even if they are not monks, you can still learn Shaolin Kung Fu, as long as you learn Shaolin Kung Fu from monks who know Shaolin Kung Fu You do not need to come to Shaolin Temple in Lushan to become a monk to learn kung fu. 

In contrast, modern competitive martial arts have few gender and age restrictions. Men, women, and children can all learn it, in which young people account for the majority population. Modern competitive martial arts have no religious culture. Most modern competitive martial arts are also taught to students by university teachers or school coaches. What is the difference between a master and a coach? I will share it with you later! 

The second difference is: spiritual pursuit is different.

Shaolin Kung Fu pays attention to the "mind-body connection," also called “Zen.” Some people will ask, what is “Zen.” Zen in Shaolin Kung Fu values the exercise of heart and mind as the essence and the law of practicing with Zen Buddha.  "Zen" attaches great importance to the subjectivity of human beings and the pursuit of spiritual liberation, not limited by the outside. Shaolin Kung Fu integrates Zen's "meditation" practice into Shaolin Kung Fu. Training process pays more attention to the "senses," the requirements of the Dantian, through the blood circulation and energy all over the body. It emphasizes internal and external development. It not only pays attention to training but also pays attention to the combination of training and resting. They seek a variety of spirits and bodies. It emphasizes physical fitness, self-defense,

weakening confrontation and fighting in martial arts.  On the other hand, modern martial arts do not have Zen thinking mode and meditation. Current martial arts pursuit of virtue. "Before you practice martial arts, you must practice virtue and pay respect to the teacher." There are typical contemporary competitive sports spirits characteristics, such as the pursuit of excellence, competitiveness, breaking through yourself, a sense of honor, self-confidence, and faith.  

The third
difference is: martial arts founders are different.

Shaolin Kung Fu is a type of boxing from thousands of years of inheritance, with many fractions. In contrast, modern competitive martial arts have been established since the founding of the People’s Republic of China by martial arts masters and professors after extracting the style and characteristics of various martial arts schools and then compiled into a new type. They formulated a unified international competitive martial art set of rules and then spread internationally, recognized by the Olympic Games. 

The fourth difference is: the boxing style is different.

Shaolin Kung Fu is characterized by its concise moves, a compact combination of action, smooth motion, and solid and powerful moves. It pays attention to the technical effort and attack and defense. And modern martial arts is more free-spirited, elegant, smooth, and more reflecting the external beauty, not paying too much attention to the action of the attack and defense, and there are a lot of in the air flipping, with artistic appeal and athletic competitiveness, with a series of strict and accurate action scoring criteria. 

The practice of modern competitive martial arts pays attention to standardization and rhythm. It advocates the "high, difficult, beautiful, new" development direction: similar gymnastics, springboard diving, and other similar sports. 

Shaolin Kung Fu uses a lot of legs and sounds (during the Shaolin Kung Fu drills, they sometimes sound just like a tiger's roar). Only the Southern and modern competitive martial arts styles will have a similar sound. 

Shaolin Kung Fu has a variety of fist styles, such as lions, tigers, mantis, monkeys, snakes, eagles, dogs, etc.; In contrast, modern competitive martial arts sets do not have hieroglyphic fists in international competition, I mean in the global competitive martial arts sets. But I like hieroglyphic fists a ton. 

Shaolin Kung Fu has a wide variety of weapons, such as 18-like weapons broadswords, spears, swords, dragonflies, axes, hooks, forks, whips, hammers, caught, slugs, sticks, sticks, turns, meteor hammers, among other weapons. Modern competitive martial arts weapons are mainly broadswords, spears, swords, and sticks-based, which are more limited and streamlined. 

The fifth difference is: Clothing is different.

(Coach Xueyuan yangchen is wearing a traditional martial arts competition costume )

Shaolin Kung Fu people wear Shaolin Temple monk clothes during competitions and performances. The cotton-based material has simple color, no patterns, and accessible design embroidery. During the competition and concert, modern competitive martial arts people wear martial arts performance clothes, also known as color clothing. Most are made of silk; the material is smooth, light, and has a sense of drooping. The clothes are embroidered with lovely sequins and patterns.

Regardless of Shaolin Kung Fu or modern competitive martial arts, most today do not have a solid practical ability; In contrast, ancient martial arts can be used to kill enemies; contemporary competitive martial arts pay more attention to ornamental, so they cannot be used to beat professional fighters. However, compared with modern competitive martial arts, Shaolin Buddha Kung Fu pays more attention to attack and defense techniques. 

The above five points are the differences between Shaolin Kung Fu and modern competitive martial arts that I share with you; Which do you prefer? Comments below!

Written By Xueyuan Yangchen

Dec 3, 2020