Kung Fu Styles List

There are many styles of kung fu because there are also many different cultures in the world. And in each culture, people will have their own way to express their feelings and thinking.

So we can say that every style of kung fu is a kind of cultural treasure with unique Kung Fu uniforms, unique rules, and unique characteristics.

But all styles of kung fu have three basic elements in common: boxing, kicking, and weapons. Still, all styles are different because each style has its own origins. The origin is the place where a specific culture was formed.

The following list will introduce you to some famous kung fu styles, and it will also give a brief introduction about them.

kung fu styles

Table of Contents

1. Shaolin Kung Fu

Shaolin Kung Fu, one of the major styles in kung fu, is mostly associated with Buddhist monks of the Shaolin Monastery in China, who are renowned for their fighting skills.

The term “kung fu” (gongfu) can refer to any skill obtained through long practice, and not necessarily martial. One example is tea-making. It can take many years to learn how to make a good cup of tea, so it can be called “kung fu”.

The fighting aspect of Shaolin Kung Fu encompasses kicks, punches, and throws. This Kung Fu style is also well known following the famous Shaolin uniforms.

2. Wing Chun Kung Fu

Wing Chun Kung Fu is well known for its direct fighting techniques which emphasize close-range combat and simultaneous attack and defense. It was named after its creator, the Buddhist nun Ng Mui, who learned martial arts from Shaolin Kung Fu Master Jee Shim (Buddhist name).

She used her skills to train young Yim Wing Chun, a woman who later married Leung Bok Chau (who himself had trained at Lama Temple). Leung then combined his own techniques with those of Ng Mui to form Wing Chun Kung Fu.

3. Mantis Boxing

Mantis Boxing is known for its unique fighting style, which mimics the actions of a mantis with arms and legs flailing and powerful hand techniques. The first recorded usage of Mantis Boxing was by Mantis priests in Henan, China.

Legend has it that the founder of Mantis Boxing was a Shaolin nun named Ng Mui who taught Yim Wing Chun (see above), but this is only legend and there is no proof to support it.

4. Monkey Kung Fu

Monkey Kung Fu imitates the movements of a monkey. The spiritual founder of this style is Sun Wukong, the Monkey King from the famous Chinese novel “Journey to the West”. There are many forms of monkey boxing, but one of them is Chu Gar (an Obeah school).

5. Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan)

Tai Chi Chuan is one of the most influential styles in kung fu, and it is also known for its slow, flowing movements that resemble a dance or meditation session more than a combat technique.

It was developed by the Taoist Master Zhang San Feng and is based on the philosophy of Yin and Yang (opposite forces). There are many different styles of Tai Chi Chuan, which have been developed from the original form by other famous masters.

6. Fei Lung Kung Fu

Fei Long Boxing was created by Buddhist Monk Miao Tien. He used the Indian martial art Kalaripayattu to develop the style but mixed it with his own ideas.

Fei Long Boxing is known for its fast, powerful techniques and also for devastatingly effective training methods, which puts extra stress on the student’s body to toughen them up.

7. Dragon Kung Fu

Dragon Kung Fu is known for its extremely mobile and flexible techniques. It was developed by Chan Heung, who created it by studying the movements of animals such as the snake and the lizard.

The movements were then adapted to suit footwork rather than pure hand techniques like in Wing Chun Kung Fu. There is an old legend that says that Chan Heung studied with Lai Te, a famous martial artist who he later killed. He took the knowledge from his dead opponent and used it to create Dragon Style Kung Fu.

8. Iron-Ox (Tie Jian Kao)

Iron Ox Boxing is named after Wang Zong Yue, who created this style by combining Hsing-I with Chu Gar Southern Praying Mantis boxing. Iron Ox Boxing is known for its solid stances, low center of gravity, and powerful techniques.

9. Southern Praying Mantis

Southern Praying Mantis is one of the most popular styles in kung fu. It was created by Chu Fook-To, whose students were responsible for many future developments in this style.

There are two main branches of Southern Praying Mantis, which are the Hung Gar and Lau Gar. The latter was developed by legendary martial artist Wong Yan-Lam (who also developed Baat Cham Do).

10. Northern Praying Mantis

Northern Praying Mantis is one of the “Five Great Kung Fu Styles” in Chinese Martial Arts. It was developed by a monk named Wang Lang and branched off from the Southern Praying Mantis style.

There are two main branches of Northern Praying Mantis, which are Zheng Shan Zhang and Hou Shan Zhang. The latter was created by Monk Jue Yuan (who taught Dong Haichuan, who created Baguazhang).

11. Bajiquan

Baji Quan is a powerful style of kung fu that is known for its short, fast strikes. It was developed by Ji Long Feng, who based it on the techniques used by the Huanglong Mountain bandits. Baji Quan is often considered to be one of the most effective styles in terms of self-defense.

12. Baguazhang

Baguazhang is one of the “Five Great Kung Fu Styles” in Chinese Martial Arts. It was developed by Dong Haichuan and is known for its circular movements and evasive footwork.

Baguazhang is often considered to be the most difficult style to learn, due to its complex footwork and intricate hand techniques.

What Is The Deadliest Kung Fu Style?

While all kung fu styles are deadly in their own way, some are more lethal than others. For example, the Shaolin style of kung fu is renowned for its explosive power and agility, making it capable of delivering devastating blows.

The Wing Chun style, on the other hand, is known for its precision and efficiency, allowing practitioners to defeat larger and stronger opponents.

Some would say that the Northern Shaolin Style is the deadliest, due to its combination of power and speed. Ultimately, there is no single deadliest kung fu style, as each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Nevertheless, all styles of kung fu require dedication and hard work to master, and any one of them can be deadly in the hands of a skilled practitioner.

Kung Fu Styles Gear

There are several styles that use both fist and weapons techniques for competition or self-defense only. Many times other Chinese Martial Arts practitioners will challenge Kung Fu practitioners because they feel that Kung fu has no effective way to defend itself. Once the challenging party is faced with a kung fu practitioner using his/her Kung Fu, they quickly change their minds.

What Equipment is Used The Most?

Even though Kung Fu practitioners are known to use many different types of Kung Fu equipment, the most commonly used is the staff. Other popular weapons include Shuang Dao (the double-edged straight sword), the twin swords (one blade in each hand), and more traditional Chinese weapons such as the Pi Gua (halberd) and Jian (straight sword).