Kung Fu Origin Stories

I woke up this morning wondering about how Kung Fu origin stories come into being. There’s always some sort of legend, or a young, unformed talent who does something or witnesses something that forms the seed of their school of kung fu – like the classic Wing Chun story of the nun Ming Na watching a crane fighting a snake and being impressed by the economy and beauty of their movements.*

These stories all invariably take place in the far distant past, with a hazy lineage of teachers stretching down to the present day, or at least until 1970 when suddenly they branch out faster than a pyramid sales scheme.

It amuses me to think of someone in China opening their first martial arts school back in the days of yore** and trying to sell this kind of story.

“How did you become a master of the wandering bun fist, sifu?”

“One day, I was running across the city with a delivery in my arms when I saw a man being attacked by four cutthroats. I set about them, using only my kicks to strike as my arms were full of packages for the delivery. I defeated them, and seeing the man was okay, I ran as fast as I could to deliver the food. The man who was attacked was a city official, and seeing me defeat those men so easily convinced him that I should be elevated from the level of humble baker to master…that is how Wandering Bun kung fu was born.”

“Come off it, sifu! You tripped over someone’s dog four weeks ago and hit your head – when you came to you’d decided to open this place. The only reason they let you, and the reason everyone comes here, is because your wife is super hot and she can make those dumplings that have dumplings inside the dumpling.”

“Yeah…those are pretty tasty. But can we stick with the mugging story? Sounds a lot better.”

Not sure why all this occurred to me…but it did.

*Personally I always found that odd because birds tend to go apeshit over the slightest threat, so unless economy and beauty is a mistranslation of “start flapping its wings like mad, screaming so loud my dog’s ears started to bleed and jumped up and down on the snake until it was not just dead but flat” then there’s something deeply wrong with the analogy.

**unspecified, like a fantasy novel.