Personalities is a very interesting topic within Kung Fu, as we have mentioned before Kung Fu is an embodiment of Chinese Culture being passed down from master to student continuously. Therefore the development of a specific lineage or school or system even within the same martial style can take on different characteristics over time and growth.
For a very simple example if one master had two prolific students and one specialised in weaponry and the other in hand forms, then when those students become masters one day their own students will take on the specialism of the teacher. The forms may also take on slight moderations to accommodate the master’s body, techniques may become more graceful or ferocious depending on personality and intent. In this way Kung Fu is alive and grows with people, so personality is a very important aspect students should observe when they’re looking for a master or group.
In the same vein, historically masters would take extreme care in choosing their students and take even more precaution when deciding what and how much to teach which students. Only the most trusted students would have the chance to become an indoor disciple and learn the more in depth martial knowledge. Can you imagine if masters freely taught their deadly techniques to any and all students without first screening their personality what would happen? There have been many cases where students usurped their masters or rebelled against their martial families!
On a more practical level you can often observe a sense of rhythm, character and personality by watching the forms of a kung fu style. Broadly speaking there are a few ways of categorising Chinese Kung Fu by grouping them up either geographically as Northern or Southern, or by their primary martial focus as Internal or External. So if you’re looking to get into kung fu and don’t know where to start, an excellent way to get an idea is by watching videos and try to get a feeling of which characteristics speak to you. Group up those videos and see what they have in common. The closer styles are to each other the more likely they belong to the same group with similar martial personalities that may match you too.