What is Wushu?

The sport of wushu is both an exhibition and a full-contact sport derived from traditional Chinese martial arts. It was created in the People’s Republic of China after 1949, in an attempt to nationalize the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts. Most of the modern competition forms were formed from their parent arts by government-appointed committees. In contemporary times, wushu has become an international sport through the International Wushu Federation (IWUF), which holds the World Wushu Championships every two years.

Competitive wushu is composed of two disciplines: taolu (forms) and sanda (sparring). Taolu involve martial art patterns and maneuvers for which competitors are judged and given points according to specific rules. The forms comprise basic movements (stances, kicks, punches, balances, jumps, sweeps and throws) based on aggregate categories of traditional Chinese martial art styles and can be changed for competitions to highlight one’s strengths. Competitive forms have time limits that can range from 1 minute, 20 seconds for some external styles to over five minutes for internal styles. Modern wushu competitors are increasingly training in aerial techniques such as 540 and 720 degree jumps and kicks to add more difficulty and style to their forms.

Wushu can be seen in almost all action movies today, promoted by the likes of Jet Li, Donnie Yen, and Chow Yun Fat, amongst others.

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