Brief Introduction to Wushu

Wushu is a generic term that refers to all the different kinds of Chinese martial arts.

Wushu is an integral part of Chinese cultural heritage, a product of several millennia of development that combines martial arts, health preserving exercises, performance and sportive activities, and many more elements. Wushu originated at the dawn of human history, developed and evolved continuously adapting to the circumstances of each period of time. During its long process of evolution, Wushu also blended with several cultural and artistic forms, traditional philosophies and medicine theories broadening the horizon of martial arts.

Upon the establishment of the People's Republic of China, the government set a Sports commission that engaged in efforts to rescue this important cultural legacy. In 1958, the Chinese Wushu Association was founded in Beijing and masters worked upon the improvement of the sportive qualities and difficulties of Wushu combining the principles of sports science with the skills and theories of traditional Wushu. Soon, the first Modern Wushu Competition Rules were published and national competitions started to be held every year.

Today, Wushu competition is classified mainly into two categories: Taolu (Routines) and Sanda (Free Sparring):

  • Taolu involves the performance of sequences of movements that represent attack and defence techniques of Wushu. The Taolu competition comprises of solo routines, both barehanded and with weapons; Group Sets, a collective event in which several competitors perform together routines, barehanded or with weapons; and Sparring Sets, which as the name suggests, involve two or more contestants going through a pre-arranged combat routine that can be classified into three categories: barehanded, armed and barehanded against armed.
  • Sanda, or Sanshou, it's a true military and sport combat discipline developed in order to preserve the martial values and heritage from the vast Wushu. The Sanda competition consists of a full contact free sparring fight that takes place on top of a raised platform. The winner is determined either by the judges' scorecards or directly by knockout or KO.

In Taolu, every movement is excelled in terms of the amplitude of motion, the speed, the height of the jumps, etc., creating a very impressive and fascinating interpretation of Traditional Wushu techniques. Whereas in Sanda, the main idea is to control and outdo your opponent in the most efficient way.

In 2001, following Beijing's successful bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games and confident that the sport would finally be included in the official Olympic program, the International Wushu Federation stepped into a new era of developments to meet the Olympic strict standards. In 2002, the International Olympic Committee officially recognized the International Wushu Federation and accepted its application to be listed as a medal event in February alongside other sports. However, despite all efforts, in 2005 the International Olympic Committee announced that Wushu is not going to be part of the official medal events of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Instead, the International Wushu Federation will organize an international Wushu Competition parallel to the Olympic Games and with the International Olympic Committee approval, called "Beijing 2008 Wushu Tournament".

As reforms and modifications carry on, the great sport of Wushu will continue to develop more and more, and perhaps our Olympic dream will become reality in a not so distant future.

Legendary all-around champion Zhao Changjun


Taolu Asian Competition (Chen Min from China)


Wushu Sparring Sets Division (10th All China Sports Games)


Sanda World Competition (Taiwan vs Iran)


Sanda national champion Zhou Lizhong