As to the esoteric stuff, the big question, what's it all mean: The odd thing is that while this is the accepted term for Chinese martial arts, neither word means fighting or even fist. I have been told that whereas Gung ho means 'good work', Kung Fu means 'great work', with 'great' in this case meaning 'lots of'.
According to Kwon Wing Lam (Northern Sil Lum #7 The Plum Flower Fist, 1984) the term is best translated as "craftsmanship".

Apparently the modern usage of applying the suffix 'Fu' in reference to a person's hard earned special abilities has some coincidental relationship in the usage of the term Kung Fu in China, as one may correctly be referred to as having Kung Fu in any area of expertise.

Compared to other forms I think that:

If you want to hurt someone as quickly as possible: You might like Jujitsu or maybe find some Ultimate Fighting Championship guys to train with.*
*Though Kung Fu would help with that.

If your highest priority is to get across a dark parking lot safely: you should probably find a Model Mugging course, or something like it.*
*Though Kung Fu would help with that.

If you want to compete in sparring, and be graded on a scale that is recognized up to the Olympic level, you may like Tae Kwon Do.*
*Though Kung Fu would help with that, too.

Kung Fu is individualistic to the point of being anarchic: everyone is in it for their own reasons, looking for their own personal best, and it is usually practiced solo.

If you think that Kung Fu looks like Fun, or you want a good workout you can keep in your back pocket, something to do in any park, on every beach, or if you have ever wondered what to do to explore the energy that your body seems to project beyond itself, you will learn more than you expected to in the practice of Chinese Martial Arts.

Kung Fu may be the origin of all standardized fighting forms, as they seem to have spread from China through the rest of Asia, which may be why it has outgrown fighting (there's the yin in the yang of it).
I think it likely that as it was passed from generation to generation it became apparent that the practice of the forms and the effort to develop perfection in the styles (this is of course impossible) is the really good bit, the fun part, a meditation system in fact which may lead to higher states of awareness.

Kung Fu will improve everything in your life. Every little thing. You will be better at self defense, better at opening doors, and at throwing frisbees.
The people who get most involved in it given the options of other forms and other sports are sometimes competitive, but we're usually there to have a good time at no one else's expense.

When you are on an endless journey, it's best to enjoy yourself.