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Gymnastics became a part of medicine shortly before the time of the "Father of Medicine;" and, according to Plato, as a means of counteracting the bad effects of increasing luxury and indulgence. It soon passed into a complete system, as already indicated. The gymnasia were often connected with the temple services in Greece where chronic ailments, through bodily exercises, baths, and ointments, could be cured.


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Plato styles two of these Greek gymnasts, who cured disease, the inventors of medical gymnastics, Iccus of Tarentum and Herodicus of Selymbra. The latter in particular made use of them for medical purposes, which is the reason he is considered to have been the first inventor of this art. Plato relates that the latter was himself ill, and sought what gymnastic exercises might conduce to his recovery.

Kung-Fu, or Tauist Medical Gymnastics

He gained his object, after which he recommended the same method to others. Before his time, dietetics was the chief part of medicine.

It was he who advised his patients to undertake the journey from Athens to Megara, a distance of stadia, equal to 6 German miles, and back. Hippocrates, who was one of his pupils and superintended the exercises in his palaestra, tells us that Herodicus cured fevers by walking and wrestling, and that. In consumption, he advised the patients to suck women's milk from the breasts, a practice found existing in China at the present day among the old and debilitated. Galen mentions Premigenes, who was great in the peripatetic theory and wrote on gymnastics. Other ancient nations besides Greece and Rome seem to have been early convinced of the importance of a knowledge of the means of preserving health.


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Among the Hindu legislators, we find laws enacted with this object; and, with the view of enforcing them and making them obligatory, we see them joined on to religion, just as in China we find similar precepts extensively pervading their sacred books. The Chinese, like the Hindus, have quite a large number of works on the means of retaining health. These have reference to climate, seasons, time of the day, food, bathing, anointing, clothing, housing, sleep, etc. Exercise receives always a high place in all such works; for it increases strength, prolongs life, prevents and cures disease by equalising the humours, prevents fatness, and renews and increases the power of resistance.

In the Book of Rites 1, B. At the present day in China, besides the exercises involved in Kung-fu, the various exercises that prevail in Europe are practised publicly and privately by all classes, especially by the Mantchus, and to a much larger extent than among ourselves.

Our present mode of warfare has done much to put an end to gymnastics as a part of education and a means conducive to robust health. The ancients may have esteemed them too highly, just as the moderns neglect them too much. True philosophy points to the golden mean as the place where truth is to be found. There are evils front inactivity as well as evils from excessive exercise; but gymnastics, when practised under proper control, must be invaluable in ensuring good health, a clear intellect, and in curing many complaints.

Preventive medicine is coming every year more and more to the front, and gaining more attention and importance. The present age seems to be more alive to the importance of gymnastics than any preceding age of modern times. We find them introduced by enlightened teachers into many of our schools and warmly advocated by many medical men. Treatises on this subject are published yearly. Therefore when a person has mastered a particular skill, he may be said to have "kung fu".

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The term became associated with martial arts because the mastery of any martial arts system requires years of dedicated practice. He saw the Shao Lin monks were weak and sickly and sought to help them.

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Legend has it that he meditated in front of a wall for nine years. The results of this meditation were written in two books. The Yi Gin Ching taught ways to increase the strength and health of the physical body. An exercise regimen known as the " 18 Movements of the Arhan Hands" or " Monk Boxing " which was practiced by the monks was based on this work. The Shi Sui Ching was primarily a religious treatise explaining methods for developing the Buddhist spirit by using Chi energy.

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These teachings were incorporated into kung fu and made a great impact on the art. From Da Mo comes the mystical concept of "empty mind" and other meditations. The next major development followed a drift away from the Buddhist influence and back into the Taoist influence. In a Taoist monk Chang San-fung invented a radical new element of kung fu known as " soft fist" or "internal style". This is a slow, relaxed and mystical style, as opposed to the older styles, which were hard and externally orientated.

Chang San-fung believed that the intensive physical exertion of the former styles of Kung Fu was against Taoist philosophy. The focus instead should be on internal energy and harmony. Taoist temples became centres of Kung Fu knowledge. Chueh created five animal styles or forms: Dragon - to cultivate spirit, Tiger - to develop tough bones, Leopard - to build strength, Crane - to strengthen sinew, and Snake - to generate chi.


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Chueh combined hard and soft techniques in his forms.