Kung Fu – Learning the Essence of the Martial Arts and the Way of Peace

Kung Fu means “hard work” or “eat bitter”

I had the honor of getting some time in with Grandmaster Carl Totton a few months back. Recently inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame, he has been actively studying the arts with the Who’s Who of the craft for over 50 years. I personally have studied Kung Fu with him for over a decade now and was excited to get an opportunity to get some of his wisdom on film. He’s got a great way of kicking down wisdom and telling it like it is, and for anyone out there who may enjoy seeing me get my a%s kicked, well, this is your chance. Ouch.


Kung Fu is an ancient Chinese martial art that has a number of schools of thought, many of which have competed for superiority over the years. Grandmaster Totton teaches Shaolin Kung Fu, Taoist Kung Fu, and Mok Ga (monk fist) along with Chuan Fa (Kenpo), Limalama, Tai Chi, Ba Gua, and Hsing Yi. Yeah- this guy has devoted his life to the arts and he’s no joke. What I like about him the most is that he also holds a double doctorate in Psychology and Education so he’s no dummy either. Funny, articulate, and stunningly fast, he’s fun to watch and great to learn from.

So what is the essence of the martial arts? Facing our own shortcomings may be one interpretation. Watch the video and let me know what you think based on what he says…



9 replies
  1. Brandon
    Brandon says:

    I watched video Kung Fu fighting footage from a sandy backyard in the northern part of Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana. Their style is nothing like the flashy choreographed fights in martial arts films. It’s rough, raw and repetitive. Their breath comes in short bursts as they count with their elbows up and knees bent. Their features are pulled into grimaces. Their foreheads are shiny with sweat.

  2. Mina
    Mina says:

    I was impressed with the show the master and student put on at the end of the video when they rehearsed the dance’ that is weapons combat in Kung Fu. I learned from other martial arts training that it is important to focus on your weapon. This will train your eyes to follow the movement of the weapon ensuring that defensive and offensive moves are performed correctly.

  3. Raymond
    Raymond says:

    Clearly, the Chinese martial arts, particularly Kung Fu, have existed for centuries and are generally accepted as being beneficial for health without much empirical data. I have read certain studies that were aimed atassessing the health effects of “hard” Kung Fu styles by performing electronic and manual searches of the literature. Kung Fu training or performance, as a moderate- to high-intensity form of aerobic exercise, has benefits similar to those attributed to other aerobic training.

  4. Grace
    Grace says:

    This was very interesting and something my husband would have loved back in the day. An interview with the grand master is a once in a lifetime thing isn’t it? You did a great job on this blog and I look forward to your next post keep up the good work.

  5. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    Since many people are getting more health conscious now more than ever, I am guessing that some people consider signing up for martial arts lessons as a form of exercise as well as mental health / balance. Besides all of the other benefits that the master points out, I think it is also a good calorie burner and muscle strengthener.

  6. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    When I studied teak-won-do and witnessed the advanced students fight in the ring, it looked like nothing I had practiced in class. Where were all those techniques? When all was said and done, all the black belts had used were the most basic blocks and kicks, along with an occasional punch or two. So why all the techniques, I wondered? Then i learned a different approach to fighting, one that is principle-oriented rather than technique-oriented.

  7. Virginia
    Virginia says:

    I have to say, this video is impressive. I didn’t realize this was such a world renowned master. I was very much impressed by the efficiency of movement from the master. He really does a good job of demonstrating how an experienced Kung Fu student can use his well practiced moves with force to defend himself and quell an attack – even with a weapon.

  8. John
    John says:

    I think the sun say exaggerated a bit about using natural motions to illustrate the point, but I tried doing the basic block and circular motion chop to the neck and it suddenly dawned upon me that if you apply force to these movements and you practice these motions to the point that they are instinctive and you apply force, you can be very deadly.

  9. Charles
    Charles says:

    I have been practicing Tae Bo for a while now and I do some Kenpo but my husband was into Tae Kwan Do for many years and has his black belt. Thank you for posting this article though this was very interesting and I would love to see more when you do your next post. You did a great job on this keep up the god work.

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