Chinese martial arts may be traced back to 4000 years ago. Their origin is attributed to self-defense needs, hunting activities and military training in ancient China. Then, It proceeded to incorporate different philosophies and ideas into its practice-expanding its purpose from self-defense to health maintenance and finally as method of self-cultivation.
Chinese martial arts have a number of fighting styles. Those fighting styles can be classified according to common themes. Themes are physical exercises that mimic the movements of specific animals, or a history and training method inspired by various Chinese philosophies, myths and legends.
Some styles focus on the harnessing of qi and are labelled internal , while others concentrate on improving muscle and cardiovascular fitness and are labelled external .
Geographical association, as in northern and southern, is another popular method of categorisation. Each fighting style offers a different approach to the common problems of self-defense, health, and self-cultivation from a Chinese perspective.