Wushu (also known as kung-fu or martial arts) is one of the
typical demonstrations of traditional Chinese culture. It is a
sport which utilizes both brawn and brain.
The theory of Wushu is based upon classical Chinese philosophy,
while the skills of Wushu consist of various forms of fighting:
fist fights, weapon fights, and other fighting routines (including
such offence and defense acts as kicking, hitting, throwing,
holding, chopping and thrusting) and unarmed combats.
Wushu is not only a sporting exercise but also an artistic form.
It is used to cure illness as well as for self-defense and is a
comprehensive form of culture of the human body.
Wushu enjoys a long history and great popularity in China.
Thanks to its uniqueness and charisma originating from traditional
oriental culture, Wushu is captivating the attention of more and
more people in other nations.
As one of the earliest and long-lasting sports, Wushu has
developed its own characteristics over time. Major characteristics
are listed below:
1. Because of its long history incorporating differences in
culture, ideology, region and usages, Wushu has developed into a
great variety of schools and styles. While some schools emphasize
the use of fists and hand technique, others emphasize leg technique
and footwork ( Fig . left ) Some take interest in the variation of
acts whereas others prefer simplicity. Some focus on keeping
opponents at arm's and leg's length while others like to fight in
close contact. The assortment of schools and styles displays the
colorful features of Wushu and gratifies the various needs of
2. Wushu includes the use of many weapons. Chinese ancients
named the Wushu arsenal the "Eighteen Arms," but there are many
more in use. Almost all fights are accompanied by weapon usage of
one kind or another. The combination of fist fights and weapon
usage allows for a fuller and more efficient application of Wushu
skills while sharpening the insight of combat and control and
enriching the program of Wushu exercise.
3. The combination of offence and defense is the essence of
Wushu. Implications of offence and de-fence permeate the complete
gamut of Wushu exercise. They are fully demonstrated in both
practice and real combat. Even a solo practice implies the
atmosphere of offence and defense against an imaginary opponent in
time and space. Wushu masters have systematically summed up the
contradictions of offence and defense and established a set of
theories and techniques on combat.
4. The movement of the human body is only the external display
of Wushu. Wushu is by no means limited to the external movement,
but also emphasizes the full display of the internal temperament,
mental attitude and potential of the human being. The practice of
Wushu not only strengthens the bones and muscles but also the
internal organs and intelligence. Coordination and cooperation are
called for with each and every movement of the hand, eye, body,
foot and form of movement. Wushu stresses that the mind directs the
circulation of air flow within the body and that the inner
circulation of air generates the external strength, so
demonstrating the combination of external and internal forces.
Cultivating air flows inside the body in order to improve the basic
structures inside the body is an important purpose of Wushu
5. Ingenious applications of substantial and insubstantial blows
are incorporated in the movements and forces of Wushu. Motion and
stillness alternate with each other, while hardness and softness
su-pplement one another, greatly enhancing the artistic expression
and the practicality of Wushu, and de-monstrating its inclusive and
equilibristic nature. Once in action, the movements can be as fast
and forceful as a gust of wind, while being still, the body looks
as steady as a mountain. Hard blows are like lightning and
thunderclaps, whereas soft punches are like breezes delicately
caressing willow twigs. Human feelings and abilities are clearly
demonstrated through the rhythmic movements of opening and closing,
and the emotions excited in doing exercises.
Wushu boasts versatile functions, of which the most outstanding
1. Moral Cultivation
As a human practice which stresses cultivation of moral
characters and demon-stration of spirit and temperament, Wushu is
conducive to developing good manners and con-duct. It also helps
adjust one's psychology. The moral characters and etiquette are
held in esteem by all schools of Wushu masters.
2. Offence and Defense
Wushu practitioners can master various offence and defense
techniques of armed and unarmed combat for self defense through a
great number of training exercises. Many of the Wushu techniques
can also be utilized in military and police training programs.
3. Curative Effect
Tai Chi Quan, one of the traditional schools of Chinese shadow
Chuan, and the various still standing exercises emphasize the
adjustment of one's breathing, thinking and psychology. These
exercises have been proven to have good curative and rehabilitative
effects on sufferers of chronic diseases of many kinds. As these
exercises help strengthen the coordination of the human body and
its immunity, they are ideal for preventing and curing
4. Health Improvement
The practice of the basic exercises and routines of Wushu are
effective methods for improving the pliability of the joints and
the suppleness of the back and legs. The generation of energy, the
jumping and leaping and the changes from one stance to another, all
help enhance human strength and speed of movement. Wushu,
therefore, can be taken as the basic exercise for other sporting
5. Artistic Effect
The graceful movement of the body, especially the typical
oriental charm revealed during exercises and practice of Wushu, has
an impressive artistic effect and provides visual delight. People
can benefit mentally as well as physically from the display of the
Wushu offence and defense skills and the exertion of forces through
the display (Figs. below).
While stressing the development of physical prowess, Wushu also
emphasizes the exercise of thinking. By adjusting various human
functions, Wushu also helps improve the nervous system and is
therefore good for intellectual
Links: Categorizing styles of Chinese martial
Shaolin kung fu