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Rhythm In Kung Fu

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

Rhythm is one of the most important features of kung fu. The past masters described figuratively the rhythm of movements as twelve patterns: move like waves, be still like a mountain, rise like a monkey, fall like a sparrow, turn like a wheel, stretch like a bow, stand like a rooster, be stable like a pines, be light like leaves, be heavy like iron, be sharp like an eagle, be fast like the wind.

When practicing your form, every move, its combination, and the transition between each move must be executed appropriately, demonstrating clearly the dynamic changes in your rhythm. A form should be performed not only with fast pace, but also with varying speeds in order to balance the rhythmic changes of the techniques, such as moving and standing still, hard and soft, fast and slow.


During the form, how to balance correctly these contradictory and inter-connected relationships will directly affect the right rhythm and quality of your kung fu. A form with wrong rhythm appears dull and tasteless. For example, in a form, if there are no soft movements as a contrast to hard movements the form will appear stiff and rigid. Thus, it is essential to apply the principle of contradictions— hard and soft, fast and slow— in the practice of forms. Therefore, a student must study and try to understand how to apply the twelve patterns into their forms along with good solid basics, in order to achieve the correct rhythm in their kung fu.

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