Kung Fu Panda – Kung Fu or Kung Fool?

Kung Fu Panda 2 – Movie Review:

Usually in a movie review, you will write about the how great the movie, what type of film it is, and who the actors are. Well you can read the reviews from many sources, one of which is Wikipedia that does a good job. All this being said, I really wanted to know if Kung Fu Panda really knew martial arts. Are we looking at cartoon moves, or is there really something to what Po, the Kung Fu Panda knows? Is the movie being real to the martial arts community? I decided to look Kung Fu Panda’s martial arts, more in depth.

Ok, we know Kung Fu Panda’s teacher is named Shifu. Sifu is Chinese for master, so Po’s teacher Shifu is a name play on Sifu. Po must be doing some form of Kung Fu. With the snake, tiger, monkey, and other animal forms we know Po is versed on the Chinese animal forms of Chinese karate. This legend begins with a tortoise, Grand Master Oogway, leaving the Galapagos Islands to begin a new tradition of martial arts in China. This is somewhat reflective of Bodhidharma departing India for China in the 6th Century. Bodhidhrama is the founder of the Shaolin School of Martial arts, as well as yoga, and Zen Budism. The movie incorporates a fair amount of philosophy, so there are many parallels to the Shaolin School, and Bodhidharma.

Yin and yang principles are based on the balance between two extremes, such as dark and light, heat and cold, noise and solitude. In this story Oogway teaches Shifu the art of Hing Kung, which may be a takeoff on Qing Gong (Qigong) which incorporates teaching of “lightness” techniques. Through Oogway’s teachings, Shifu learned to regain internal balance, which is the basis of good health in the yin/yang principles.

There is a section in the movie which shows Oogway meditating next to a pool, reaching focus and harmony, by understanding the mysteries of the natural world. Oogway then develped his varius animal styles of King Fu,. This parallels Bodhidharma’s legend of being seculed in a cave for ten years, where he developed Kung Fu, based on fighting forms of animals.

Oogway favored basic karate, open hand, techniques which employed speed and great strength to specific nerve pressure points on his opponent. There is on fight scene where Oogway uses a powerful nerve block on the snow leopard’s body, resulting in knocking out Tai Lung.

Po, the Panda’s Kung Fu techniques are a little hard to follow. We have the standard punches, kicks, reverse kicks, and a lot of hand motion, along with “belly” techniques. Hey, you have got to use what you’ve got. There is a funny segment where Po employs a mean face pose, which in fact is taught as a martial art technique. While Po is a cartoon Panda doing Kung Fu, there are some lessons to be learned. Martial arts are as much a mental exercise, as physical, and many martial artists, argue much more mental. This mental aspect of martial arts comes with a philosophy of how to use it.

We’ll look at some of this philosophy from Master Oogway:

“When the path you walk always leads back to yourself, you’ll never get anywhere.”

“You are too concerned with what was and what will be. There’s a saying: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. This is why it is called the present.”

“One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.”

“Your mind is like this water; my friend. When it is agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”

So you can learn something from a cartoon character.


This reviewer rates Kung Fu Panda 2 4.5 chili peppers. Great entertainment, good story line, likeable characters, there is depth in the story where you want to see, and just plain fun!

Source by Robert S Franks

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