#SifuAnswers Before we look into the causes of differences we should note that all Chinese Martial Arts come from the same cultural core. All TCMA developed out of the purpose of protecting something – be that an ideology, people, valuables- as opposed to pure fighting for fighting’s sake. So you’ll find TCMA is closely intertwined with the beliefs of its people, religion and history of the time. Moreover on an even more basic level, all kung fu was developed for people with arms, legs, eyes, nose and heads so really there should be more similarity than differences since the human body can only make so many natural movements.
Usually if there are contradictions it may be the fault of the student’s misunderstanding or lack of deep and broad knowledge. With that being said there are indeed differences between Kung Fu systems and often what we notice is that the greater the difference in systems, the less they overlap with each other and ergo they have less contradictions. Conversely, the closer a system the more they have in common and more chances of describing the same thing differently, or doing the same thing with variation.
Most common is when different branches of the same system contradict each other because they developed or specialised into different aspects at different times for different purposes. An example that comes to my mind is when younger styles develop different variations to do a similar movement.
Another cause for variation and contradiction may be that the teacher of a particular style may have evolved as the master, themself, had changed the way they made movements in their later years compared to the way they taught students in their younger age for whatever reason that could be – improvement in skill / forgetfulness/ change in body etc.
As a student I think it’s therefore important to know the reasons, be it historical or physiological, why some moves were adapted or changed and then to be able to review if those reasoning hold afloat for your personal combat style.