All You need to Know about Wushu Sport


This Chinese sport is very similar to kung fu however; you should not confuse the two. The term Wushu, when broken down in two parts that is “wu”, means military and “shu” means art thus Wushu literally translates to Chinese martial arts. It is a full-contact sport and has been long confused with kung fu as the latter has the primary and more spoken about sport.


Although since its inception in 1948, the sport has now gained prominence around the world. Despite Kung fu’s prominence around the globe, Wushu has had its fair share of struggles but now the sport has finally become an internationally competitive affair.

The History of Wushu

Going into the roots of martial arts in China is practically impossible because these ancient arts date back thousands of years. Wushu similar to the kung fu was formulated for the same reason- to help an individual protect itself from danger and in some cases for hunting.

In ancient China emperor, Huangdi who came to rule in 2698 B.C took the initiative of shaping up this noble sport. During his reign, soldiers were trained in a specific type of wrestling which involved the use of horned helmets. The act was called Horn Butting or Jiao Di. From then onwards, Huangdi has been credited for laying the foundation and basics of Chinese martial arts history.

Despite the fact that there is no specific time scale related to Wushu, it is a well-known fact that under Mao Zedong during the Communist rule in China, almost everything traditional to the nation was destroyed. Thus clouding any and whatsoever information related to the birth of Wushu. At that time, all the literature at the Shaolin Temple was destroyed kung fu preachers and practitioners decided to flee the country, thus leaving the native arts in tatters.

After that, the Chinese government attempted to nationalize and standardize all forms of martial arts in the 1990s in the country. This was the advent of the modern way wherein Wushu gradually developed as a sport. The Government formed the All-China Wushu Association in 1958, thus paving the way for modern practices to be preached and in a proper way.

During the same period another associative body, the Chinese State Commission for Physical Culture and Sports came forward with the proposal of creating a standardized form for the majority of the Chinese arts, thus leading to the birth of a national Wushu system incorporating well-defined standards for forms, teaching, and instructor grading. Along the way, Wushu lessons were subsequently embedded into curriculums at the high school and university levels.

The Chinese National Research Institute of Wushu came into existence in 1986, in the People’s Republic of China, like the one central authority for the research and administration of Wushu activities across the nation.

Wushu Events

Competitions of Wushu are usually divided into two disciplines – taolu (forms) and sanda (sparring) although it does have other disciplines as well like breaking hard objects, self-defense, these are not included in Wushu competitions traditionally.

Wushu events

Taolu includes predesigned movements that are used to defend against imaginary attackers. It involves certain techniques, patterns and movements that are judged and competitors are hence ranked as per the rules. The forms include basic movements like kicks, stances, balances, punches, throws, jumps and sweeps.

These are all derived from ancient Chinese martial arts but in a competitive event, high flying acrobatics is the more common sight these days. The whole act can last for up five minutes for external styles while it lasts for only a minute and above for external styles.

The sanda (sanshou) which is the sparring side of competitions is a modern full contact sport which is all about the fighting technique. It is a blend of kicks (kickboxing), boxing and wrestling inclusive of all the combative side of things. The grappling used in these competitions, which is very similar to MMA, Boxing, kickboxing or Muay Thai have originated from Shuai Jiao and/or Chin Na.

Wushu Routines

In normal terms, Wushu events consist of two parts, the compulsory or the individual routines. The former are those which are predefined for every athlete. The latter are those routines that an athlete himself/herself creates with the help of their coach given that they follow certain difficulty levels.

Wushu Routines

The compulsory routines are listed below:


  • Changquan (Long Fist) Nanquan (Southern Fist)
  • Taijiquan (or Tai chi chuan) (Taiji Fist)

Short Weapons

  • Dao (knife)
  • Jian (double-edged sword)
  • Nandao (Southern single-edged sword)
  • Taijijian (Taiji double-edged sword)

Long Weapons

  • Gun (Staff)
  • Qiang (Spear)
  • Nangun (Southern cudgel)

Major Competitions

Some major Wushu Competitions are listed below:

  • World Wushu Championships
  • World Junior Wushu Championships
  • World Games
  • World Combat Games
  • Asian Games

Notable Wushu Practitioners

Some renowned practitioners of the sport are mentioned below:

Wu Bin: A very well-known and respected coach, Bin trained Li for the Beijing Wushu Team, and under his tutelage, Li became the most famous martial arts actor. Bin has trained more Wushu champions than any other coach around the globe.

Jet Li: Probably one of the most famous martial arts practitioners, Li was a very famous actor as well. Under the watchful presence of Wu Bin, Li won a total of 15 gold medals and a silver medal at Chinese wushu championships.

Yuan Wenqing: Considered as the one of the best, most famous Wushu practitioners of all time, Yuan bagged countless medals in major tournaments like the World, Asian and Chinese Championships.

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