The term kung fu (cantonese) or gong fu (mandarin) has been popularised in occidental countries following the success of Bruce Lee’s movies in the seventies. Since then it refers to the Chinese martial arts worlwide. But this term is inappropriate. The terms gong and fu literally and separated translated have a totally different signification than « Chinese martial arts ».
The gong ideogram refers to the knowledge, the development, the ownership of an art or of a profession. This term can be assimilated from a semantical point of view to the occidental notion of « craftsman master ». In our culture, the craftsman learns his profession, savoir-faire, techniques and art culture through a long learning process with a master.
The fu ideogram refers to the techniques as content. Hence, the association of the terms gong and fu refers to the knowledge of a set of special techniques, coming from a specific learning process. Gong fu can then be used in gastronomy for example. Likewise, the art of pouring tea, and not the tea ceremony itself, is called gong fu cha in China.
As a consequence, wu shu is a better term to use for chinese martial arts, and the terms wu shu gong fu would then refer litteraly to the Chinese martial arts knowledge.
The old wu ideogram represents an halberd. This pictogram vectors the idea of housing and people protection, symbolized by the warrior weapon. This talisman forbids thieves and demons to enter in the houses and harm people and objects. Nowadays, the term has a more general meaning. It refers to the mobilisation of the necessary means for the protection of people.
The shu ideogram refers to the savoir-faire, the inherent knowledge to an art practice. The term « art » should be understood as the profession of an artisan. His savoir-faire is transmitted to him by a master through a long and rigourous learning process. Hence it is easier to understand the meaning of gong fu wu shu, chivalrous art which philosophical principles, reflects from its history, are easily seen in its name.