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Introduction to Wushu

Wushu, which is generally referred to as Kungfu in the West, is the collective term referring to the various martial arts practiced in China; it is also the modern competitive sport practiced around the world. It has developed and evolved over a period of thousands of years from an art of war into a cultural, martial, philosophical and physical activity now embraced by people on every continent. Wushu, which features a format in line with other modern sporting disciplines, incorporates a wide variety of practice methods from highly athletic empty-handed forms to weaponry as well as partner routines and full-contact combat.

Wushu is categorized into two main categories, namely Taolu (Routine Performance) and Sanda (Free Fighting).


Taolu (routine performance) is a routine based event. Practitioners perform set routines either individually, in groups, or in pairs. Taolu is performed with and without the use of Chinese traditional weaponry and incorporates punching, kicking, throwing/wrestling, seizing techniques and aerial techniques to varying degrees of difficulty in a wide variety of colorful styles, each with its own characteristics and focus. The Taolu events included at the IWUF World Wushu Championships include:

Changquan (Longfist) – Changquan is a collective term for Northern Wushu Styles. It features open postures, a wide range of punching and kicking techniques, and breathtaking acrobatics.

Nanquan (Southern Fist): Nanquan is a collective term for Southern Wushu Styles. It features lower stances, with fewer leg techniques and a focus on short, powerful arms strikes often with vocal accompaniment.

Taiji Quan (Tai Chi): This is an “internal” Chinese martial art, which is performed slowly and calmly, yet has forceful explosive techniques at times.

Daoshu (Broadsword): A vigorous northern sword event, featuring ferocity and power.

Jianshu (Straightsword): A nimble, graceful and swift northern sword (double edged).

Gunshu (Cudgel): Northern Cudgel featuring high speed wide ranging techniques.

Qiangshu (Spear): A long weapon featuring precise and intricate techniques.

Nandao (Southern Broadsword): Broadsword performed with Southern stylistic principles.

Nangun (Southern Cudgel): Cudgel performed with Southern stylistic principles.

Taijijian (Tai Chi Straightsword): Straightsword performed with Taijiquan principles.

Duilian (Choreographed Sparring Performance): This is a choreographed routine with 2 or more participants emulating a combat situation featuring bare-handed combat as well as that with weaponry. It is highly energetic and visually entertaining.


Sanda is a free fighting event, which takes place on an elevated platform called a leitai. Competitors are classed into differing weight divisions and wear protective gear and gloves, and utilize punching, kicking and throwing/wrestling techniques to win points or knock out their opponents. Events are exciting and fast paced, and the added element of the platform not having any boundary ropes makes matches visually entertaining.