Chinese martial arts, which are called kung fu (/'k?? 'fu?/) (Chinese: ??; pinyin: gong fu) or wushu (??), are a number of fighting styles that have developed over the centuries in China. These fighting styles are often classified according to common traits, identified as "families" (?; jia), "sects" (?; pài) or "schools" (?; mén) of martial arts. Examples of such traits include physical exercises involving animal mimicry, or training methods inspired by Chinese philosophies, religions and legends. Styles that focus on qi manipulation are called internal (???; nèijiaquán), while others that concentrate on improving muscle and cardiovascular fitness are called "external" (???; wàijiaquán). Geographical association, as in northern (??; beiquán) and "southern" (??; nánquán), is another popular classification method.


The genesis of Chinese martial arts has been attributed to the need for self-defense, hunting techniques and military training in ancient China. Hand-to-hand combat and weapons practice were important in training ancient Chinese soldiers.[4][5] Detailed knowledge about the state and development of Chinese martial arts became available from the Nanjing decade (1928–1937), as the Central Guoshu Institute established by the Kuomintang regime made an effort to compile an encyclopedic survey of martial arts schools. Since the 1950s, the People's Republic of China has organized Chinese martial arts as an exhibition and full-contact sport under the heading of Wushu.