Wushu, which is also referred to as KungFu in the West, is a generic term for Chinese Martial arts that is composed of basic offensive and defensive movements executed either bare-handed or with weapons.
Wushu originated in China 5,000 years ago and it is considered to be one of China's major cultural gifts to the world. It is the most popular form of physical exercise in China. Various Wushu forms, particularly Tai Chi, are suitable for people of all age groups and physical conditions and can contribute to physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Wushu can be viewed in terms of two categories ie. Taolu (Forms with or without weapons) and Sanshou (Free Sparring).
Bare Handed Forms
It is difficult to accurately assess just how many schools/styles of Wushu are practiced in the world today. It is estimated that there are more than 100 schools with many individual styles within each of these schools.
For example, Hung Gar and Wing Chun are two well-known styles within the NanQuan School. Other popular schools in the West include Shaolin, Bagua (Pakua), Xingyi (Hsing-I) and Taijiquan (Tai Chi).
The wide variety of weapons used in Wushu practice fall into four main groups based on the nature of these weapons:
Short Weapons - shorter than the height of a person and wielded with one hand during practice, such as Sword and Broadsword.
Long Weapons - longer than the height of a person and wielded with both hands such as Spear and Cudgel.
Double Weapons - a pair of weapons are wielded, one in each hand, such as Double Swords and Double Hooks.
Flexible Weapons - a rope, chains, or rings are used to create linked weapons which are able to strike close or far, and are wielded with one or both hands, such as the Three-section Staff and Nine-section Whips.
Duilian (also known as Duel)
Based on the Chinese Martial Arts principles the 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) Bare handed vs. Weapon(s)
These forms are usually for demonstrations only and performed with or without weapons by a group of six or more persons. Synchronisation is important as traditional teaching for most students occurs in a group environment and music is used to both guide movements and enhance the concentration and mental attitude required.