According to legend, Kung Fu has a history stretching back two to three thousand years in China. The widely accepted legend telling the story of Kung Fu’s birth describes a Buddhist monk called Bodhidharma, or Da Mo, migrating from India into China.
Da Mo came to the Shaolin Temple to teach his method of meditation and Buddhism.As Da Mo worked with the Shaolin monks, he noticed them falling asleep during meditation.In order to help the monks stay awake, Da Mo taught them basic physical exercises and breathing techniques.
Martial arts existed in China before Da Mo, but his key contribution was the teaching of breath control which, added to fighting techniques produced what we know today as Kung Fu.Some legends credit Da Mo himself with the creation of both Zen Buddhism and Kung Fu. Others say that Da Mo’s style of breath control was gradually worked into Chinese fighting techniques over time.
The term Kung Fu is not actually the traditional term used to describe martial arts.Originally, martial arts were described as Wu Shu, meaning “martial way”.Although the term Kung Fu is difficult to translate into English, it means something along the lines of “skill through effort, practice and application”. Although Kung Fu developed in China, many techniques migrated to other Asian kingdoms and empires.Kung Fu techniques have historically provided the building blocks for separate martial arts systems in Asia like Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Kenpo and Aikido.