Kung Fu – In Chinese, kung fu can be used in contexts completely unrelated to martial arts, and refers colloquially to any individual accomplishment or skill cultivated through long and hard work.

Also seen and used as gung fu, the definition as noted in The Shaolin Grandmaster’s Text, (published in 2004  by the Order of Shaolin Ch’an, Beaverton, Oregon), means “something like excellence, skilled activity, or maybe even time/energy.”

The confusion of the “k” and “g” resulted from the western linguists translations between Eastern & Western speakers. When Bruce Lee introduced American audiences to his martial art, he both spoke and wrote the American “g”, hence “gung fu”.  More recently, the Chinese Pinyin system revised the transliteration of most words, so you will now frequently see the spellings “gonfu” and “gongfu”.

In contrast, wushu is a more precise term for general martial art activities. The term wushu has also become the name for a modern sport similar to gymnastics, involving the performance of adapted Chinese bare-handed and weapons forms judged to a set of contemporary aesthetic criteria for points.  Wushu is a fun and healthful activity, but is not a martial art in the sense of emphasizing self-defense applications and combat effectiveness.