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Old 02-09-2004, 07:51 AM   #1
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Kung Fu vs. Karate

Hello, I am a total ditz when it comes to the martial arts. The closest I've come to it is my kickboxing tape that I totally enjoy. I would like to know what is the difference between Kung Fu and Karate? I would also like to know which one does anyone enjoy better and why?

My son has just started Kung Fu, because I couldn't resist the price. Now I have a chance to send him to kartate camp at an unresistable price also; however, I really like his Kung Fu master.

Thanks in advance for any help.

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Old 02-09-2004, 08:37 AM   #2
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Re: Kung Fu vs. Karate

Both of these have many different styles and what you learn depends on the training of the instructor.

As I understand it, karate generally focuses on straight-forward, no-frills punching and kicking techniques.

Kung fu is the kind of martial arts that Bruce Lee did. It's similar to karate, but also emphasizes acrobatic moves, and the use of weaponry may be involved.

Old 02-09-2004, 08:57 AM   #3
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Re: Kung Fu vs. Karate

Karate is Japanese and Kung Fu is Chinese. They are basically just different styles and traditions. If he is already talking kung fu, I'd have him just stick with it. The kind of focus and discipline that martial arts demand will be more easily wrought if you keep him dedicated to one tradition, I think. That's just my $0.02
Keep your body lean, your blood clean and your mind sharp. -Rollins

Old 02-10-2004, 11:43 PM   #4
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Re: Kung Fu vs. Karate

I'm kind of interested in what sort of kung fu he's learning. There are quite a few instructors out there that turn out to be "Six-Week" blackbelts. This is more of the case in karate, but the numbers are rising in kung fu as well.

This really wouldn't be that much of a problem if the instructors knew how to teach techniques. But since most of them never learned the basics themselves, they end up teaching garbage to their students. The end result may be injury in the form of repetitious and improper activity, or causing the student to think he can handle more than he should.

That said, I suggest you inquire about the head instructor's background, i.e. How long has he been practicing? Does he have any certifications in his art? How does he go about choosing the instructors? Also, you should look into how the classes are organized. There's no point in sending your child to a martial arts school that has them doing jumping jacks and push-ups for 2/3 the class time .

Old 02-11-2004, 06:58 AM   #5
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Re: Kung Fu vs. Karate

Hello, His instructor studied Shaolin Kung Fu in China for 5 years, which is really convient for me since our household is half Chinese. (She can speak Mandarin Chinese.) It's a female instructor, and she has a specific website on the internet for her school. They don't do jumping jacks and belts were never mentioned. Her plan is to start the children in Kung Fu early like they do in China. I've tried some of the stuff my son's doing in class and it is really difficult. She told us the reason he can do the stuff and the older children and adults can't, is because the younger children have softer bones and are more flexible. An older child or adult has to work harder at getting that flexible. She has even taught some of the Chinese traditions like the Chinese New Year and the proper way to greet your Sifu.

So far they have been doing lots of stretches at the beginning and end of class. They swing their arms around to "hit" themselves, go from touching their toes to arching their backs on the floor, running their folded arms up and down their legs, and doing what my son calls the "frog" position (She calls it the diamond.) where he starts off lying down on his stomach and touching the soles of his feet together then raising just his chest and waist off the floor. (The butt and feet must stay on the floor...He is the only one other than the teacher that can do it, but he is the youngest in the class.)

Postions they have learned so far are the "bow and arrow," "rooster," "horse," "tiger," and "lotus."

They just do a few kicks, because most of the class gets too tired out. (Not my boy, he's full of energy.) The kick their legs out front while trying to hit their toes. They do an "arc" kick, where they hold their hands out to the side and try to "hit" their hands with their feet.

After class she does a demonstration and has her older students (Called brothers and sister to the class.) so demonstration also. I guess it's for motivation.

The Karate class is taught by a security guard. This school isn't as old as the Kung Fu school. It's Seido Karate. There is no specific website for this school: however, the school's old address and phone number is listed on the national Seido Karate site. The karate instructor said that it take at least 2 years to become a black belt at his school. The purpose for his school is to keep the kids out of trouble, so he specializes in latchkey children.

What do you think?

Old 02-11-2004, 01:13 PM   #6
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Re: Kung Fu vs. Karate

I should mention here that all these posts are my opinion only. They are based on my personal experience and knowledge. I am in no way stating that I'm an expert on the subject.

As far as I know, there haven't been any authentic Kung Fu schools in mainland China since the early 1950's. Most of the instructors were captured and slaughtered or took flight when the Communists came to power. What's left is a state-sponsored "dance" called Wu Shu that even the original Shaolin school was forced to obey.

Wu Shu is very acrobatic in nature with lots of jumps, wide stances, and even flips. It's purely a spectator sport with very little to no application in a fight situation. It does indeed help to keep you limber, but like gymnastic floor exercises, it also has a tendency to cause injury over time.

If I were you, I'd keep an eye on what the instructor is teaching your son. For instance, Wu Shu practitioners are notorious for practicing deep stances, i.e. their knees go past their toes. This puts too much stress on the knees and could cause damage to the joint. Basically, if you don't like what you see, or if you wouldn't subject your own body to that activity, then I suggest you pull your son out of the class.

Old 02-16-2004, 04:00 PM   #7
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Re: Kung Fu vs. Karate

It is my understanding that Karate is more of a competition form of fighting. I work w/a few people that practice Kung Fu-San Soo, ( one is an instructor) it is a southren chinese form of fighting that is generaly used to maim and kill.

Old 02-27-2004, 08:56 AM   #8
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Re: Kung Fu vs. Karate

i practise wing chun kung fu for 3 years.
i think learning kung fu is much better than karate because kung fu helps you stay young and do not do any harm to your body as you re getting older..
kung fu is an ART and it has amazing beauty...

Old 02-27-2004, 10:31 AM   #9
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Re: Kung Fu vs. Karate


What forms of martial arts would be best suited for self defense/street fighting(bar fights)?. I've heard that the grappling forms of martial arts are better for this, but then i've also heard that karate or kung fu is better.

Old 02-27-2004, 01:52 PM   #10
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Talking Re: Kung Fu vs. Karate

Hello, My son's Sifoo teaches Northern Saolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi. My mother-in-law finally went with us to Kung Fu lessons and she doesn't like it. She told me it's not real kung fu, because it is too easy; eventhough, there were older children moaning and groaning, because they couldn't do the moves. She doesn't have enough English skill to explain to me why she feels this way, but she did say she felt that the children there were just there for fun and not serious with the exception of my son, who was used as one of the good examples for the others to follow. I thought maybe the teacher wasn't strict, because this is an introductory class. The Sifoo did do a "mummy wrap" demonstration with a broad sword to show the class what they would be doing when they get older, but my mother-in-law said she was too slow and too old. My son's friend's mother and father and I like the teacher, but we like the hours of the Siedo Karate School better so I guess we all will be checking that school out too.

In repsonse to the self-defense question...Here's what I have read and observed so far...Keep in mind that I am new at this stuff too. My hubby feels that Karate is more for self-defense and Kung Fu is for staying healthy. I have also read some stuff on the Internet, if it can be trusted, that Kung Fu is more difficult than Karate and that Kung Fu originated as some sort of spiritual stuff and the defense part came later. The site conintued to say that Karate was started as a quick way to learn self-defense. I have also seen some videos that can be ordered online that use Kung Fu as exercising and a really expensive one that is supposed to teach you how to defend yourself against weapons with Kung Fu. Another thing one of the sites said is that Kung Fu is mostly using the hands and is 30% kicking and 70% hands, while Karate is 50% kicking and 50% hands. Beats me which one's better. I think I'm going to opt for looking at the instructors, schedules, and fees.

There's this one TKD school that charges $80/month. Isn't that a little steep?
All the other martial arts schools are charging $40-55/month in this area. Anyway, thanks to everyone. You're all great!

Old 04-17-2004, 03:12 PM   #11
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Re: Kung Fu vs. Karate

As Naxis said, karate is a Japanese (originally Okinowan) art, whereas Kung Fu styles are older, Chinese arts. There are many styles of each art, with extreme differences between them. For example, my black belt is in Okinowan Shorin-Ryu Karate, which is totally different from Japanese Shotokan Karate, and both are vastly different from sport forms such as American Open.

The styles of kung fu are generally named for and based on animal movements, such as Eagle, Monkey, Tiger, and so on and so forth. Then there are the forms such as Wing Chun Kung Fu, which, being developed by a woman, is based primarily on techniques not requiring great mass and strength.

This, of course, does not even begin to cover the hundreds of variations, and completely fails to mention the Fillipino (Sayok Kali), Kprean (Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido), Russian (Sambo, Systema), and other arts, such as Japanese Jujitsu or Judo, or Aikido, or Tang Soo Do...the list goes on and on.

It won't hurt your son to train in as many martial arts as he pleases. I suggest just trying various instructors, styles, and schools until you find one that makes you and your son happy.

Oh, and Bruce Lee practised Wing Chun Kung Fu, and developed his own system, Jeet Kune Do.

Old 04-17-2004, 09:54 PM   #12
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Re: Kung Fu vs. Karate


My brother's been in martial arts since he was 6. He started out in Judo, then to Karate and then into Shaolin Kung Fu (and a few other kinds from there under instruction of various masters). He is now a respected and recognised Sifu teaching Choy Li Fut Kung Fu. Kung Fu has many aspects involved...forms, weapons, sparring, team weapons, etc.

Growing up in the 60's with the Avengers, Green Hornet and watching Bruce Lee's amazing skill at brother was 100% immersed in learning. The cat even used to sit while he kicked at the hairs on the tips of his ears
He was awesome and won many competitions in forms, weapons and sparring.

So, what's the point of what I'm saying....? Hmmm, it doesn't matter where your son starts. If he's interested in martial can seek out other schools and he will eventually find his niche. The 40+ years my brother has invested will most likely continue till his dying days.

It doesn't matter what is better, it shouldn't be that kind of competition. Karate (more striking and blocking and kicking) and Kung fu (deflecting, circular movements, precise contact, less energy) are BOTH fighting martial arts. Old or new or whatever .....

Ask your mother-in-law to show you what would be good. Find out who the various Sifus' instructors were/are, for how long, are they still learning under a master and who declared them the permission to teach. I'm not knowledgable in the teaching heirarchy...but I know there is one.

Maybe if you're serious about your son's quality of learning....enquire in Chinatown of your city what kinds of Kung Fu that are being taught and what would be good for kids to learn.

All martial arts focus holistically....mind, body and spirit.

It sounds as though your son is enjoying Kung would be good to eventually get him into a class where the Sifu has total respect and the class is totally focussed. But, first see if he's serious and move on from there.
I agree with TWilliams82..the variety of martial arts forms and instructors is a great suggestion.

I congratulate you on your support of your son's learning!

Best to you both,
It's all a matter of perspective!
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Last edited by quincy; 04-17-2004 at 10:04 PM.

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