Kung Fu - An ancient form of martial arts that originated in the Shaolin
monasteries of China featured on the western adventure KUNG FU/ABC/1972-75.
David Carradine starred as a half-Chinese Shaolin Monk, Kwai Chang Caine who wandered
the vastness of the western frontier searching for serenity from a hostile world
of assassins and bigoted Americans. His only defense against the many evils he
encountered was his training in the mystic arts of Kung Fu. (Translated:
According to the program "It is said a Shaolin priest can walk through
walls...listened for, he cannot be heard...looked for, he cannot be seen...felt,
he cannot be touched." (episode No. 3 "Blood Brother" 1-18-73)
In his book "The Spirit of Shaolin" (Charles Tuttle, 1991), David Carradine defined "kung fu" as
"an ancient fitness program through which humankind realizes its full potential
through better understanding, learning to set high limits and standards,
transcending rigid and false values and achieving harmony with the law of nature
and the universe. Kung fu is training with a useful purpose, and leads to the
learning of refined skills, which will remain with the student for a lifetime,
and, perhaps, even longer."
An excerpt from the TV script had Master Chen Ming Kan (Philip Ahn) explain the
various kung fu fighting styles used by the Shaolin priest.
"In the Shaolin Temple, there are three kinds of men...students, disciples and
Masters. The development of the mind can be achieved only when the body has been
disciplined. To accomplish this, the Ancients have taught us to imitate God's
creatures...From the Crane we learn grace and self control. The Snake teaches us
suppleness and rhythmic endurance. The Eagle, the duality of hard and soft. The
Praying Mantis teaches us speed and patience. The Way of the Tiger...tenacity
and power. And from the Dragon we learn to ride the wind."
The kung fu student practices the Animal styles so he or she can reduce conflict
and be one with nature, one with the universe. It may take a person half-a
lifetime to master just one system. When Master Kan was asked which style he
taught. Master Kan replied "I teach them all."
TRIVIA NOTE: Kwai Chang Caine resurfaced on
the spin-off TV pilot KUNG FU: THE NEXT GENERATION/CBS/1987 (aired on SUMMER
PLAYHOUSE) starring David Darlow as a modern-day descendent of Kwai Chang Caine
(with Brandon Lee as his son, Johnny); Kung Fu: The Movie (1986) continued Caine's adventures; and the first-run syndicated series KUNG FU: THE LEGEND
CONTINUES/SYN/1993-97 starring David Carradine as the grandson of original
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