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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if a Sifu is teaching a genuine shao-lin kung fu style?

Before we can answer this question, the first question should be, "What is an authentic kung fu style?"

To those who have no background in Shao-lin Kung Fu, it can be confusing. What makes a style authentic? Well, all styles are authentic in there own right. Even a style that is created today is authentic in a way. The real question is whether the style taught at your school of choice came from traditional lines from China and/or a famous master. Even in noted styles in China today there are numerous versions of styles. No one can ever be sure what is the first art, or which style is the purest form.

As always, the best way to assure yourself is to do a little research. By going to a good school under a noted teacher with a good line of heritage you can be sure you are getting a version that is accepted as traditional. By sticking to noted masters or their disciples you can be fairly sure your style is what the teacher claims.

When it comes to famous styles of kung fu, such as Tan Tway, or Chang Ch'uan, it is not hard to track down very informative books on their history and where they came form. Once you see a few versions of these styles you will know they are all very much the same, with the exception of a few moves here or there. No one can say which of these versions is more pure or authentic then the other. But generally speaking, Chang Ch'uan always looks like Chang Ch'uan.

After training for some time, you can recognize styles for what they are. Spring Legs, no matter what version you pick, always looks like spring legs. Again there may be small differences in approach or small moves, but in general it will appear much like other versions of this famous style.

Even today there are noted masters of the past, such as Yang Chang Fu, who practiced styles that differed from his or her teacher's style. So which is better? No one can say.

In many cases, the reputation of the master is what attracts people to a style. Bruce Lee style is an example of this. Many wanted his style simply because Lee advocated it. But his style was itself created from many existing styles.

So if you are looking for traditional styles that are considered authentic, track down the teacher first and look at his or her background, then look into the form itself. If it is a famous style there will be much written about it, and it will be an easy matter to see find out if you are in fact studying is a good version of the style you seek.

Kung Fu history goes back very far, and little is known of the true roots of many styles. The general rule is to stay within the main stream of the style you seek and not study styles that can not be tracked downed to a noted master, or styles that different dramatically from the known styles.

Even today in the Shao-lin Temple there are styles that can not be authenticated as a so called pure version, for the pure version of any one style does not exists. Kung Fu comes from the minds of many people, not just one person. Therefore you will see differences even in so called authentic traditional styles. But by staying within the main stream of forms and styles you can not make a major error in choice.

It would be like asking which of the all the Bible translations is the best or purest? No one can say, but we can say as long as that Bible follows within the main stream of thought, it is authentic.

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