Modern Wushu (Taolu)
Wushu is a general term meaning 'all Chinese martial arts'. However, 'Wushu' in the modern sense means standardized martial arts practiced by Chinese athletes. Modern Wushu is an exhibition and full-contact sport that was created by 1949. It includes form display (empty-hand and weapons) and sanda, a form of full-contact sparring similar to kickboxing.
The form component of Wushu is called taolu. Athletes compete with one another to display strength, co-ordination, balance, agility and precision in different forms of Chinese martial arts including Changquan (Long Fist) and Taijiquan. There are compulsory set routines and free -style routines: marks are awarded for difficulty of execution and display value. Taolu routines are performed by single athletes, or with two or more in fighting sets.
Modern Wushu is an international sport, with the World Wushu Championships held every two years under the International Wushu Federation.
Changquan (Long Fist)
Changquan, 'Long Fist', is a form of Northern Chinese Kung Fu featuring extended kicks and strikes and large circular movements. It is known as an external style due to its reliance on physical strength and power. Long Fist is well known for its acrobatic kicks, and is the most popular and memorable routine in modern Wushu. The system also contains throwing and grappling techniques from Chinese wrestling, as well as quinna locking techniques.
Changquan was developed in the 10th century, and is widely practiced today. Modern-day training incorporates single-person empty-hand forms, weapons training such as the long staff and double-edged sword, self-defence applications, two-person fighting forms, and internal iron palm training.
Nan Quan, 'Southern Fist', is a form of Southern Chinese Kung Fu and is a prominent feature of modern Wushu competitions. It is known as an external style and emphasises low stances and fast handwork, with emphasis on swift twists of the waist to generate power through the arms. Nan Quan also uses a form of vocal release called fasheng, which is a predecessor to the Japanese kiai.
In common with many Southern arts striking with the hands and upper body is emphasised rather than the acrobatic kicking found in Northern Kung Fu Styles. Nan Quan also has its own distinctive weapons such as the Southern Broadsword and Southern Staff.
Tai Chi (Taiji Quan) --Competition Styles
Besides the five main family styles there is also the Yang 24-step, which is a simplified version of the longer Yang routines. It is suitable for beginners as it contains all the essential Taiji principles while still retaining a distinctive family flavour. There are also various competition forms, both empty-handed and with weapons. For example, the combined 42-step competition form was created in 1989 and combines elements from the Chen, Yang, Wu and Sun styles. It is now the standard Wushu competition form. There are also several well-known weapon forms such as the 32 - and 42-step standardized sword forms.
Single straight sword - Jian
A double-edged straight sword considered one of the four main weapons along with the staff, spear and sabre. A normal jian has a hilt or guard to protect the fingers, a pommel (sometimes with tassel attached), and different parts of the blade have different martial functions: for example, the tip (jianfeng) is used for stabbing or slashing, and the middle section (zhongren) for cleaving and slicing. The jian is used in many martial arts including Tai Chi Ch'uan and modern Wushu.
Broadsword / sabre - Dao
A single-edged sword used for slashing and chopping. The construction of the broadsword is similar to the jian, although the dao is generally larger. The dao is used in many martial arts, and some, like Bagua, feature much larger versions than normal . The dao is also a feature of modern Wushu.
Staff - Gun
A long weapon normally made out of wax wood, which is strong yet flexible. The gun is thicker at one end and thinner at the other. Modern guns can be purchased with metal and rubber parts. The gun is one of the four major weapons of Chinese martial arts and is a part of many training syllabi including modern Wushu and Tai Chi. The monks of the Shaolin Temple are closely associated with the gun.
Spear - Qiang
A long weapon, typically made from wax wood, with a horse-hair tassel behind a leaf-shaped blade. Battlefield qiangs ranged from 7 feet to 13 feet long. In martial arts today the qiang is normally around 7 foot long. Many martial arts feature spear training as part of their curriculum and some, such as Hsingi, credit spear work as their foundation.
Traditional Hand Forms
In Wushu competitions, every athlete is required to choose one traditional hand form. In the 60s, 70s and 80s there were many traditional forms routinely chosen for demonstration such as Snake, Cuojia (Leg Kicking Techniques) Monkey, Drunken Fist, Crane and Fanzi. Nowadays athletes choose forms for their display value, such as Bagua, Xingyi, Tongbei, Dituan (Tumbling Style) Baji and competition Taiji forms. These forms are exciting, dramatic, and have a great effect on the audience.
Traditional Weapon Forms
In Wushu competitions, every athlete is required to choose one traditional weapon form. In the 60s, 70s and 80s there were many traditional weapons chosen for demonstration such as the Emei Ci, Double Spear, Rope Darts, Monkey Pole and Drunken Sword. Nowadays athletes choose weapons for their display value, such as Double Broadswords, Double Hooks, Pudao, Chin Whip, Nandao (Southern Sword) and Nangun (Southern Pole). These forms are exciting, dramatic and have a great effect on the judges and audiences.
Sparring Form (Duilian)
In Wushu competition, every athlete is required to compete in one fighting form. Fighting forms comprise sparring sets of either empty hands or weapons, and are performed by two or three athletes. Points are awarded based on the accuracy, choreography, difficulty and realism of the performance. The most popular forms are:
|2-Men qinna (grabbing and locking) form
3-Men fighting empty hand form
Empty hands with spear
Empty hands against staff
Three-section staff against two staffs
Shield and broadsword against staff
Straight sword combat
Group forms are compulsory in Wushu competitions. Performed by 6 male or female athletes from each professional team, points are awarded according to the standard of basic movements, execution, difficulty and value of choreography, as well as the overall standard of performance.
Back to Wushu Course in China>>
Chinese Martial Arts in Brief
(History / Styles / Training / Morality / Philosophy / Qi / chi)
Other Styles of Chinese Martial Arts
Tai Chi Quan (Taiji Quan)
Traditional Kung Fu
Wudang Martial Arts
Shaolin Kung Fu