The Chinese martial arts are a cultural heritage that gathers together the military experience from generations of great martial artists. These arts employ various training systems that include aspects of philosophy, medicine and science that can be applied to modern day living, for example, to gain a healthy body or to reduce stress.
In the West, the words Kung Fu have been used to describe a variety of styles of martial arts originating from China that may appear hard externally. Kung Fu, in fact, refers to the "labour" and "effort" required to achieve any form of skill. For example, the skills required for protecting oneself in a self-defence situation, improving one's health or even learning how to play the flute, all require kung fu! Therefore, there may be kung fu in anything we chose to do. There are also martial arts that may appear soft on the outside such as Tai Chi used more commonly to improve health.
Together the soft and hard forms give a more complete picture of all the Chinese martial arts. Modern or Contemporary Wushu refers to standardised forms and techniques, some of which are acrobatic in nature, taken from its traditional ancestor and developed to help popularise all of Wushu. Chinese Kickboxing sometimes called Sanshou has roots in the traditional systems too. These can be used to train students for fitness, self-defence and is often used to prepare them for full-contact (Sanda) or semi-contact (Qingda) events in a competition environment. Modern Wushu sees its debut as an Olympic recognised sport in Beijing 2008.