Like a giant yingyang symbol, the People’s Republic of China could be divided into two opposing halves, each with its own special brand of kung fu, the Northern and Southern Kung Fu Styles.
Richard Vera holds the distinction of having been trained in both the northern and southern styles of kung fu by distinguished shaolin-style instructor Ark Wong. As a martial arts teacher who fully embraced the modern age, Vera does his best to incorporate a balance of northern and southern philosophies and techniques into his training and instructions.
“There are a lot of myths that you have to dig through to talk about the differences of northern and southern kung fu,” Vera asserts. “A lot of times you need only to listen to what myths a person has heard to know what part of a system he comes from.”
As for Vera his main source of information has always been the highly respected Ark Wong. Vera outlines the origins of kung fu this way. “The northern styles are supposed to be the oldest. After all, the Shaolin Temple is in the north. According to Wong, the northerners were always taller than the people in the south. So, as martial artists migrated south and brought the knowledge with them, the systems they knew were adapted to the people and the environment that they encountered. At this point in time, we don’t know who is telling the truth, but it really doesn’t matter. Ark Wong taught a southern-style, five-animal system, but he still regarded the north as the place of origin. It doesn’t matter where it came from, but what a person does with it. That’s why we teach a person how to learn, rather than how to hurt.”