China has a long history of martial arts tradition and great many different schools and styles have developed over hundreds of years. The number of these schools and styles as well as the varieties of martial arts forms make it one of the most colorful and spectacular traditions in Chinese culture. Men Pai or Liu Pai are two Chinese phrases referring to schools and styles of martial arts respectively. However, the distinction among traditional martial arts schools and styles does not lie in the types of martial arts forms attributed to each school or style, but in their lineage of inheritance and geographic locations. One way to categorize these schools and styles is through their names as follows.
Styles bearing names of mountains and famous historical and cultural sites including Shaolin Pai, WudangPai, EmeiPai, QingchengPai, Huashan Pai, KongtongPai and Tianshan Pai.
Styles named according to locations including Nan Quan Bei Tui (Fists in the South, Legs in the North), Nan Gun (Southern Staff) and Bei Qiang (Northern Spear).
Styles of which the name is followed by the Chinese character Quan (fist) including Cha Quan, Hong Quan, Taiji Quan, Xingyi (Form and Mind Boxing) Quan, Bagua (Eight Triagram) Quan, Tongbi Quan (Arm-Through Boxing), Menhe Quan, Hua Quan (Chinese Style Boxing), Tanglang (Praying Mantis) Quan, Yingzhua (Eagle Claw) Quan, Ditang Quan (Ground Tumbling Boxing), Pigua Quan (Hanging and Splitting Boxing), Meihua (Plum Blossom) Quan, Dacheng Quan, Baji Quan, Liuhe Quan (Six Harmonies Boxing), Hong (Red) Quan andMizong (Confounding Track) Quan.
Styles named after Buddhist deities, Daoist immortals, gods, ghosts or legendary figures in Chinese folk stories: Yi Shen (One God) Quan, Er Lang (a Chinese God with a third true-seeing eye in the middle of his forehead) Quan, Weituo (Bodhisattva Skanda, one of the Eight Divine Protectors in Chinese Buddhism) Quan, Baxian (Eight Immortals) Quan, Jingang (Vajrabodhisattva) Quan. Guanyin (Bodhisattva of Compassion) Quan, Fohan Quan (Buddha Boxing), Luohan (Arhat) Quan. and Jingang Chui (Vajrabodhisattva Punch).
Styles with the Chinese character Men (door or gate) in their names including Kong Men (Empty Gate) Quan, Hong Men (Red Gate) Quan, Sun Men (Sun Family Gate) Quan and Ziran Men (Nature Gate) Quan.
Styles bearing family names including Yue Jia (Yue Family) Quan, Zhou Jia Quan, Cai Li Fo Quan (or Choy Li Fut in Cantonese), Chen Style Taiji Quan, Yang Style Taiji Quan, Wu Style Taiji Quan. Sun Style Taiji Quan and Wu Style Taiji Quan.
Styles bearing names of people including Yanqing Quan, Taizu (The First Partriarch) Quan, Sun Bing Quan, Wuzu (The Fifth Patriarch) Quan, Song Jiang Quan, Yong Chun Quan, Wu Song Tuo Kao (Wu Song Escaping the Handcuffs) Quan and Gan Fengchi Quan Fa.
Styles bearing names of animals and imitative styles including She (Snake) Quart, Hu (Tiger) Quan, Bao (Leopard) Quan, He (Crane) Quan, Shi (Lion) Quan, Hou (Monkey) Quan, Biao (Young Tiger) Quan, Gou (Dog) Quan, Ya (Duck) Quan, Hu He Shuangxing (Tiger and Crane Dual Posture) Quan. Yingzhua (Eagle Claw) Quan, Tanglang (Praying Mantis) Quan, Meihua Tanglang (Plum Blossom Praying Mantis) Quan, Qixing Tanglang (Seven-Star Praying Mantis) Quan, Liuhe Tanglang (Six-Harmony Praying Mantis) Quan, Zui Quan (Drunken boxing) and Ditang (Ground Tumbling Boxing).
Styles named after objects including Shan (Fan) Quan, San (Umbrella) Quan, Bandeng (Stool) Quan. Shanmen (Temple Gate) Quan and Sanzhan Tieshan (Three Fights against Iron Fan) Quan.
Styles bearing names of hand techniques: Jie (Intercepting) Quan, Gua (Hanging) Quan, Dang (Blocking) Quan, Zha (Stabbing) Quan, Tao (Linked) Quan, Fan (Tumbling) Quan, He Shou (Closing Hand) Quan, Lan Shou (Parrying Hand) Quan, ZhuangDa (Battering and Striking) Quan. Luohan Shiba Shou (Arhat Eighteen Hands) and Sanshiliu Bi Shou (Thirty-Six Sealing Hand).
Styles bearing names of footwork and leg techniques: Tan Tui (Spring Leg), Jie Tui (Intercepting Leg), San Bu Jia (Three Step Frame), Wu Bu Da (Five Step Strike), Ba Bu Zhuan (Eight Step Circling), Lianhuan YuanyangBu (Linked Mandarin Duck Step), Ba Bu Lianhuan Quan (Eight Step Linked Fist).
Under the major styles such as Shaolin Pai, WudangPai and Emei Pai, there are many branch styles. In these branch styles, forms with distinct characteristics may also develop themselves into a new style. In addition to major styles, there are numerous lesser styles which add significantly to the richness and diversity of Chinese martial arts.