The Saga Continues: Wu-Tang Kung-Fu Origins
Happy Wu-Tang Wednesday! In part two of our series on one of the most influential hip hop groups of all time, we dive into their Wu-Tang Kung-Fu origins. We discuss how ancient martial arts and Kung-Fu flicks have shaped Wu members’ music, lives, and just about everything in between.
Wu-Tang Kung-Fu: Sword Style
Some hip hop heads might argue that Wu-Tang Kung-Fu should have been first and foremost in this series, and they might be right. But if you haven’t already read our article on how comics influenced Wu-Tang, check it out right here and see for yourself how Wu-Tang wouldn’t exist without old school Marvel characters. Make no mistake: Wu-Tang wouldn’t exist the way we know and love them without comic books and Kung-Fu flicks.
Wu-Tang Kung-Fu and Shaolin Could Be DANGEROUS!
What is Kung-Fu or Kungfu? Also called wushu and quanta, it’s an ancient fighting style that originated in China. There’s much debate as to which fighting style is superior – karate, kickboxing, kungfu, and so on. We won’t get into that here, but feel free to sound off about it in the comments or on our social media.
Wu-Tang Sound Origins
As the story goes, the Wudang and Shaolin are two different styles of Chinese martial arts. Wudang gets its name from the Wudang Mountains. Shaolin gets its name from the Shaolin Monastery. RZA comes up with the idea for Wu-Tang from movies from the 1970s. There are a few specific martial arts that form the Wu-Tang sound. If you ever want to dive a little deeper into the Way of the Wu, these movies are the perfect place to start. Even just reading these titles, you will recognize a ton of references. RZA breaks those down in this dope video. But if you don’t feel like watching that, we got you right here. A few of those Wu-Tang Kung-Fu flicks are below.
Martial Arts Movies That Shape Wu-Tang Sound
- Enter the Dragon (1973) Bruce Lee’s final film before his death later that year. Wu-Tang considers Bruce Lee to be a prophet. More on Bruce a little later.
- Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976) In the classic track “Ain’t Nuttin to F*ck Wit, one of RZA’s lines comes directly from this movie. “And the survey says, you’re dead – the flying guillotine chops off your f*ckin’ head.” Talking about how the flying guillotine is stronger than a sword.
- Executioners from Shaolin (1977) TIGER STYLE is a direct quote from this flick, also in Nuttin to F With. The quote comes from Priest Pai Mei, aka the White Lotus. If you’ve ever seen the Quentin Tarantino movies, Kill Bill, you know Pai Mei. He trains the Uma Thurmon’s character and molds her into what she becomes in order to kill Bill.
- The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) Does this one even need an explanation? RZA says he watches this one over 200 times and counting. Way back in 1993, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) album drops – changing hip hop forever. The movie was released here in the U.S. as Master Killer. Ringing bells?
- Five Deadly Venoms (1978) This film made RZA a self-described Kung-Fu fanatic. A sample from it appears on the track “Mystery of Chess Boxin'”. Speaking of which…
- The Mystery of Chess Boxing (1979) One of the main characters in this flick goes by the name of Ghostface Killer. Again, no further explanations necessary.
- Ten Tigers from KwangTung (1979) One of the best Wu-Tang samples ever comes from this one in the song Bring the Ruckus. “En garde – I’ll let you try my Wu-Tang style.”
- Shaolin VS Lama (1983) This is the first time Americas get to see the Shaolin Shadowboxing technique.
We could go on forever about these classic Kung-Fu Wu-Tang flicks, but you get the point.
Wu-Tang Kung-Fu: It All Started With Bruce Lee
With all of those classic Kung-Fu flicks in mind, we’d be remiss if we failed to mention Bruce Lee (Lee Siu Loong). He is arguably the most important figure in popularizing Martial Arts in both American pop culture as well as cinema. Bruce Lee was born in 1940 in San Fransico. His parents moved back to Hong Kong where he learned wing chun gung fu under renowned wing chun master, Yip Man. Bruce moved to America at age 18, to Seattle. He eventually opened a martial arts school in Seattle, and then two more in Oakland and LA. Bruce was discovered at a convention in California and was offered a role in the TV series the Green Hornet as Kato. Bruce went on to develop his own style of martial arts, known as Jeet Kune Do, meaning the way of the intercepting fist. After the success of the Green Hornet, Bruce went onto star in his own movies – and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. Put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend,” Bruce Lee.
The Abbot Emerges as Your Meditation Guide
Now at the age of 50, RZA is a bit of a meditation and martial arts guru himself. Over a million people follow RZA on Instagram, where he doesn’t post often about Wu-Tang music. Instead, he offers tips on how to slow down the mind and achieve holistic health through the art of meditation. He does a series of posts by the name of “Let’s Meditate, Day…”
Keep It Loud
We hope you enjoy our Wu-Tang articles and they give you a bit of insight on one of our favorite hip hop groups of all time. Feel free to sound off in the comments and let us know what your favorite Wu-Tang track, member, and/ or album is. Follow us on all social media platforms – @loudnewsnet. Also, be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you get that LOUD in your inbox every Sunday! Check back to our Loud OG section – we post here daily.