View Full Version : what's the differance between southern and northern styles of kung fu?

Dragon Fist
07-22-2000, 03:41 PM
Hello,I have been studying kung fu 4 about 3 years now,and Im woundering what is the difference between northern and southern styles of kung fu? stances maybe?

07-22-2000, 07:54 PM
To the best of my knowledge, the difference between Northern and southern Kung Fu comes from the way Techniques are executed and designed.

For instance, Wing Chun's version of the "wooden man" dummy is different than that of the Tai Chi Praying Mantis version in that the Wing Chun version has a narrower "guard" as practitioners of this style tend to guard their centerline more.

Also the footwork is different, most of the Southern Styles I have seen represented involve short steps and tight movements while the Northern styles (of which I am more familliar) tens to be longer and more sweeping. This was explained to me as being because The Southern areas of China were more densely populated and enclosed with cities and thus, the systems of combat were designed to be applied in areas where a lot of room may not be available. While Northern styles were designed to be used on the open farmlands and fields. That is why their foot work is much wider.

I am by no means an expert, but most of my sources are reliable expirienced artists whith many years of training and expirience, I hope this helped.

07-22-2000, 11:21 PM
At higher levels all kung fu can appear very similar and seeks the same things.

Many or most of the traditional northern systems are older. Before switching to Choy Lee Fut in '93, I had trained in N. Praying Mantis mostly, and some Cha Chuan (Zha Quan) since 1985. So these observations are based only on my own experiences:

Many southern systems' sets (forms) are performed in a cross pattern (front-back and left-right). Most northern sets tend to move in a linear pattern either left and right or just front and back, although some systems incorporate complex circular turns as well.

The movements of many northern systems' sets (not all!) seem to be mostly right-side dominant, whereas many southern systems' sets seem more right-left balanced (there are exceptions to this!).

Hard power seems to be taught sooner in southern style, though both CLF and N. Praying Mantis (NPM) stress the importance of developing relaxed power. My CLF training horses are lower and wider than what we learned in NPM. Speed of footwork in fighting drills, however, is roughly equal.

In NPM, we learned in-fighting much sooner. In CLF we started with long-range tactics, and as we progress, we achieve the close-quarter skills. The NPM is still more relaxed in this aspect.

Both NPM and CLF are aggressive fighting systems, but CLF contains more hard, "smash-through" tenderizer-type attacks to sometimes break through the guard or open up oppenent. CLF also seems more suited to multiple-attack situations, though it's just my impression.

Oddly enough, in fighting theory, we use more kicks in CLF than NPM, but still not as primary, but as backup.

Dragon Fist
07-23-2000, 05:12 PM
Thank you for your replys they have been very helpful.

07-24-2000, 10:39 AM
From what i know, Northern systems are long range and most specialise in kicks, such as long fist, whereas southern styles are usually more in close, like Wing Chun. Dr. Yang says this is because the northern people were taller and had longer linbs, the southern people were shorter.


"Crosstraining is the key"
~Sifu Rick Tucci~

07-27-2000, 02:08 PM
In my school (Sandong Longfist), we have 2 people who came from a Hung Gar school when the school closed. Hung Gar seems alot more brutal, with lower kicks. The movements are shorter and more abrupt. They said the basics, (horse, tiger) are held lower also. My style is Northern, its origin in the Sandong shoalin temple. Our movements are sweeping, and long and I believe we jump and use more high kicks. Jimbob is right in that we have some weird ass turns in our forms, though. Those are just the differences obivious to me. Credendo Vides