Wushu, or Martial Art, is an important component of the cultural heritage of China, with a rich content over the centuries. Literally, "Wu" means military, and "Shu" means art. Wushu therefore means the art of fighting, or martial arts. Martial training includes Ti (kicking), Da (punching), Shuai (throwing), Na (controlling), Ji (hitting), Ci (thrusting), etc. Related to each style are basic forms, or sequences, which may involve defense strategies, offense, retreat, mobility and immobility, speed and slowness, hard or soft postures, emptiness and fullness, with or without weapons.
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Wushu was born and has steadily grown and attained perfection as an integral part of Chinese culture. As such it is bound to be influenced and conditioned by other forms of culture, first and foremost by philosophy, art and literature, and religion. Wushu reigns as one of the most traditional and popular national sport in China, practiced by the young and old alike.
Wushu was originally a military training method, bearing a close relationship with ancient combats. Practical skills, such as strength training, fencing, staff sparring, spear training, etc., are still used now by policemen and soldiers. Today Wushu has been organized and systematized into a formal branch of study in the performance arts and has become an athletic and aesthetic performance and competitive sport. Every movement must exhibit sensible combat application and aestheticism.
Chinese Wushu is classified into various styles according to different regions, different schools and families, as well as different fighting techniques. Routines are performed solo, paired or in groups, either barehanded or armed with traditional Chinese weaponry. Wushu can be viewed in terms of two categories, including Taolu (Forms with or without weapons) and Sanshou (Free Sparring).
Taolu is a performance of set offensive and defensive Wushu movements based on Chinese Wushu principles. It includes the following four main categories: Bare-Handed Forms, Weapon Forms, Duilian, and Group Forms.
Duilian form consists of sets of offensive and defensive movements for two or more practitioners in mock combat routines. They usually include three groups -- Bare-handed vs. Bare-handed, Weapon(s) vs. Weapon(s), and Bare-handed vs. Weapon(s). Group Forms are usually for demonstrations only and performed with or without weapons by a group of six or more persons.
Wushu's emphasis has shifted from combat to performance, and it is practiced for its method of achieving health, self-defense skills, mental discipline, recreational pursuit and competition. In 1990, Wushu was adopted as an official medal event in the Asian Games, and since then World Championships have been held with 56 nations participating. Now Wushu is vying for the Olympic Games in the 21st century.
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