In The Matrix, Neo starts off by asking if he's going to learn "Jujitsu". Once he's done he wakes up and says "I know Kung Fu".

Both forms of martial art are quite different and come from two different countries. Why does Neo start learning one but come out saying he knows the other? It's unlikely that the Wachowskis would goof up the editing in this scene, but did they?

3 Answers 3


You do remember when Morpheus comes to ask Tank:

Morpheus: How is he?

Tank: 10 hours straight

Please watch this scene here at

At 1:03. So, there was a 10 hours gap between when Neo started with Jujitsu till when Morpheus arrived. Thus he knew Kung Fu too. Rather it was the latest knowledge downloaded, so he referred to it. It is not a goof up.

  • 8
    At 0:47 of that video, the computer screen shows a whole bunch of different martial arts which get uploaded into Neo's brain. So he doesn't just learn Jujitzu but a whole bunch of martial arts. Kung Fu is the last one he learns.
    – Philipp
    Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 11:08
  • 4
    And given that it takes around 3 seconds to learn how to fly a helicopter in combat conditions, 10 hours is a considerable amount of time.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 12:29
  • user3347790's answer completes this one. Time taken to learn various forms of martial arts and then the very meaning of Kung Fu! You guys are awesome.
    – John
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 8:10

First - watch the video that Sudip Biswas linked to. Starting at the 47 second mark it's showing various martial arts being downloaded into Neo. In rapid sucession we see ju jitsu, kempo, Tae kwon do, drunken boxing, and there's one more that fades out as the scene switches.

Second - the phrase "kung fu" is a Chinese term that refers to to any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete. It's not even specific to martial arts. The Chinese term for martial art is wushu. However, I suspect The Wachowskis knew exactly what "kung fu" means and that Neo had learned many, and possibly all, arts. Thus when I heard "I know kung fu" I assumed Neo meant it in the most general sense and that his art was all arts.

  • 5
    +1 for your second point, never knew that. A semantic question then: you couldn't literally "know" Kung Fu then, yeah? Like you said, you'd have to assume they know the art of Kung Fu... If I learned to fly a fighter jet, which requires patience, energy, and time, how would you use the phrase? I learned to fly a jet "through" Kung Fu? Or, as the wiki mentions, "I have Kung Fu in piloting fighter jets"?
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 18:53

It's a common mistake for non-practicers of a material art to confuse one art form for another. People routinely call all sorts of different styles Kung Fu just some people (older people) call all video game systems "Nintendo", all mp3 players ipods, cell phones iphones, etc.

Neo, whom unlike others who learn a martial art the right way, through years of training of both the style and way of thinking, was gifted the skills like a cheat code. He does not have the mental train of thought that the art form gives, no respect for it.

He simply confused the name like anyone else would. There is no evidence that he actually learned Kung Fu, and his moves are not Kung Fu. His Kung Fu is shit.


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