Chinese Kungfu is one of the earliest and longest lasting sports which utilize both brawn and brain. Over its long history it has developed as a unique combination of exercise, practical self-defense, self-discipline and art.
It is estimated that Chinese Kungfu can be dated back to primeval society. At that time people use cudgels to fight against wild beasts. Gradually they accumulated experience of self defense. When Shang Dynasty (1600BC – 1046 BC) began, hunting was considered as an important measure of Kungfu training.
During Shang and Zhou Dynasties (17th Century BC- 221 BC), martial arts evolved to be a kind of dancing. Usually the dancing of martial arts is utilized to train soldiers and inspire their morale. At the same time, the skill and technology of sword forging as well as sword ceremony achieved rapid development.
In Qin (221 BC – 207 BC) and Han (202 BC – 220 AD) Dynasties, wrestling, swordplay, and martial arts dancing were very popular. The application of spear play in Han Dynasty reached its summit along with the appearance of many other techniques of spear usage. It is said the Five-animal-style exercise was another innovation by Hua Tuo (a well-known ancient Chinese physician) on the development of Chinese martial arts.
Starting from Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), Kungfu examination was proposed and implemented. Excellent candidates would receive titles and awards through the examination, largely propelling the development of martial arts. By then martial arts had evolved to be an artistic form and an independent genre. It was gradually introduced to many countries in Southeast Asia. Today Kungfu was honored as the ancestor of kickboxing, karate, aikido, and judo.
Song (960 - 1279) and Yuan (1206 - 1368) Dynasties witnessed the climax of Kungfu development. Practice of Kungfu by civil organizations became more and more popular. People actually made a living as performer of martial arts all over the country. Usually their performance was carried out by a single person or two persons as a pair.
Chinese Kungfu achieved larger development in Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1636 – 1911) Dynasties. In Ming Dynasty, a lot of genres came into being and numerous books on martial arts were published. In Qing Dynasty, the ruling empire banned the practice of martial arts, and the folk had to set up various clubs or societies to pass down feat secretly.
Up until now, Kungfu continued to be something practiced by many, such as the elite, be they military elite, learned men, warrior monks or the members of a particular family for the purpose of keeping fitness or boosting the body image.