”Hey, you know Chinese Wushu. Which Wushu style do you do?” This is the most common question Wushu practitioners ask each other when they first met.
Wushu is often differentiated into Northern Wushu Style (also known as Bei Quan) and Southern Wushu Style (also known as Nan Quan). Examples of Northern Wushu Style include Hong Quan, Ba Gua Zhang, Cha Quan, Jie Quan and Taiji Quan. Examples of Southern Wushu Style include Hung Ga, Wing Chun, Bak Mei and Wu Zu Quan. This differentiation comes from the geographical location where the Wushu style was first created in China. Apart from the geographical differences, Northern and Southern Wushu Styles also have many significant differences in their wushu techniques and attack styles.
Powerful fists (Southern Wushu Style) vs Versatile and longer-reach fists (Northern Wushu Style)
Southern Wushu Style has a unique attack style of using quick and powerful punches to defeat enemies. Its attacks are mostly done through the fists rather than the legs.
In Northern Wushu Style, the upper limbs movements are often observed as quick and fluid motion with outstretched hands to achieve versatility as well as longer attack range.
Stable stances and short and low footwork (Southern Wushu Style) vs Quick transition from stance to stance (Northern Wushu Style)
In Southern Wushu Style, to achieve the quick and powerful punches, a stable stance is required. The practitioner maintains a straight posture and a low stance to ensure stability and reduce exposure of one’s openings to opponent. Even for footwork, a low stance is maintained while moving from one stance to another, from one place to another.
In Northern Wushu Style, the footworks adopt a similar “quick and fluid motion” as the hands movements. Instead of low and stable stances and footworks, Northern Wushu Style practitioner can be seen with high stances and quick footworks when executing a series of moves.
Short-reach but fast kicks (Southern Wushu Style) vs Powerful kicks and flying kicks (Northern Wushu Style)
As Southern Wushu Style focuses on the use of fist as its primary attack means, minimum use of kicks is involved. The kicks in this Wushu style are more commonly used in a set of moves as a surprise attack (similar to a jab) while finishing with a powerful punch to deliver a significant damage to the opponent.
In Northern Wushu Style, powerful high kicks and flying kicks are the primary attacks. In contrast to the kicks in Southern Wushu Style, these kicks are larger in motion and carry a lot of strength in them.
Just as the phrase “Nan Quan Bei Tui” (Southern Fist, Northern Kick), Southern Wushu Style specialises in fists while Northern Wushu Style specialises in kicks. Next time when you watch a new routine, make a guess on which Wushu Style it belongs to…