Meet Wushu – the spectacular Chinese Martial Art

Meet Wushu – the spectacular Chinese Martial Art

Wushu is one of the five invitational sports for The World Games 2022. The Chinese martial art features for the third time in The World Games, having been an invitational sport in 2009 and 2013 too.

Wushu, or Chinese Kungfu, is a complete martial art, as well as a full-contact sport. It was developed in 1949 in an effort to standardise the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts, but the origins of Wushu may be traced back to early man and his struggle for survival in the harsh environment during the Bronze Age (3000-1200 BC) or even earlier. This struggle led to the development of defence techniques against both wild animals and other human beings.

"Wushu" is the Chinese term for "martial arts" ( "Wu" = military or martial, "Shu" = art). In contemporary times, Wushu has become an international sport through the International Wushu Federation (IWUF), which holds the World Wushu Championships every two years; the first World Championships were held in 1991 in Beijing.

Competitive Wushu is composed of two disciplines: taolu (套路; forms) and sanda (散打; sparring). But it has other disciplines such as self-defence, breaking hard objects, and other related practices, that are not performed in competitions. At The World Games 2022 the Wushu discipline will be Taolu, which involves martial art patterns, acrobatic movements and techniques 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.

Routines are appraised by a panel of judges who evaluate different aspects of a performance, namely quality of movements, overall performance and degree of difficulty, and award a score based on an athlete’s performance. Individual Taolu routines include optional routines, compulsory routines, choreographed duel/sparring routines and group routines.

In Birmingham 2022 there is one single category of Taolu: Changquan, and four combined categories: Daoshu and Gunshu All-round; Jianshu and Qiangshu All-round; Nanquan and Nandao All-round (women only); Nanquan and Nangun All-round (men only); and Taijiquan and Taijijian All-round. To read more about the disciplines, please visit the website of the International Wushu Federation.

The other invitational sports for The World Games 2022 are Duathlon, Flag Football, Lacrosse (men), and Wheelchair Rugby, which will all be presented in forthcoming articles. They complete the sports programme along with the 30 Official Sports.

 The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in The World Games.

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