Chinese martial art that is simultaneously a spiritual and a physical discipline. It has been practiced at least since the Zhou dynasty (1111–255 BC). Its prescribed stances and actions are based on keen observations of human skeletal and muscular anatomy and physiology, and many of its movements are imitations of the fighting styles of animals. Its combative techniques resemble those used in karate and tae kwon do. Self-discipline is emphasized. Kung fu performed as exercise resembles t'ai chi ch'uan.