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 (1, 2 and 3).
Wushu is very rich in form and content, encompassing hundreds of styles and thousands of routines, each with its own distinctive features. Changquang (Long-Range Shadow Boxing) is characterized by speed and vigour, while taijiquan is noted for its slow and gentle movements. One category of wushu forms is called xiangxingquan, which portrays the movements and postures of various animals, as exemplified by houquan (Monkey's Shadow boxing) and tanglangquan (Mantis' Shadow Boxing). Then there is the humorous zuiquan that describes a drunkard who is "drunk in appearance but not in mind" and is sober enough to outwit his opponent.
Roughly speaking, wushu may also be divided into barehand exercises and exercises with weapons. There are a few dozen kinds of weapons employed in wushu exercises, mostly modelled on ancient types. Although the significance of their role in modern warfare has diminished since the invention of firearms, their value in wushu training remains to this day.
Nowadays wushu is practised in the form of pre-arranged routines, either by a single person fighting an imaginary foe, or by tow or more partners in a simulated combat -- barehand versus barehand, weapon versus weapon, and barehand versus weapon. There are also "free combats" in which a contestant is free to use all kinds of wushu techniques--kicks, blows, holds and throws-in order to knock down the opponent. To minimize injuries, rules are being worked out to govern this kind of contest.
Wushu enjoys a long history and great popularity in China. Thanks to its uniqueness and charisma or-iginating from traditional oriental culture, Wushu is captivating the attention of more and more people in other nations.
The Japan Shorinji Kempo Organization, founded by the late master Doo-shin So after learning wushu at the Shaolin Monastery in China's Henan Province, boasts a membership of more than a million. The National Chinese Wushu Association of America, founded in 1978 has 4,000 members in 27 cities in the United States. In 1980, a six-nation kungfu league was formed by Sweden, Italy, France, Britain, West Germany and Spain. As the birthplace of wushu, China has in recent years sent her best masters on performance tours abroad and received group after group of foreign wushu enthusiasts coming on study missions.
Every nation has her fine cultural traditions to contribute to the treasure house of human civilization. It is most gratifying to note that Chinese wushu, as a common asset of mankind, is flourishing as never before for the well-being of the people.