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Wushu Taolu (Routines)

"Wu" = Military or Martial, "Shu"= Art

(Chinese: 套路; pinyin: tào lù; "Routine")

Taolu is a routine based competition that challenges the agility of individual athletes based on their ability to execute a series of high flying martial arts maneuvers and techniques both with and without the use of traditional Chinese weaponry such as swords and spears. Athletes are judged using an internationally adapted set of standards on their technical, expressive and difficulty merits by a panel of specially selected judges. The routines can be choreographed to highlight the competitor’s strengths and have time limits that are typically 1 minute and 20 seconds for most events. Taolu is considered as the non-combative performance based component of Wushu.

Throughout the history of the Chinese Martial Arts, there may be several hundred, if not thousands of differing styles and schools of martial arts. Commonly known as "Kung Fu", these varying styles are based on traditional animals, geography and historical factors that influenced their creation. As a competitive sport, the governing bodies in China have highlighted the traditions of the most popular styles to create the modern competitive format of wushu to which we see and practice today. Under the governance of the International Wushu Federation (IWuF) there are eleven (11) standard competition events in Taolu that each provide a unique style and combined series of predetermined movements. These events are separated into (4) categories of competition in which athletes may specialize, namely: 1. Barehanded events, 2. Short Weaponry events, 3. Long Weaponry events and 4. Dual Choreographed Sparring events. Under the governing rules of the International Wushu Federation (IWuF), these categories of events encompass the following taolu routines within them:

Barehanded: Changquan (Long Fist), Nanquan (Southern Fist), Taijiquan (Taiji Fist or Tai Chi).

Long Weapons: Gunshu (Staff or Cudgel), Qiangshu (Spear), Nangun (Southern Staff)

Short Weapons: Daoshu (Single-edged sword), Jianshu (Double-edged sword), Taijijian (Taiji Double-edged sword), Nandao (Southern single-edged sword)

Dual routines are independently choreographed action sequences between (2) two or more athletes either with or without the use of weaponry.

Competition floors for taolu athletes are used at all International events spanning 46’ x 26’. The floor is carpeted with a 6’ safety area and is comprised of a cushioned raised platform to provide athletes stability and landing support. Three types of Judges (A, B and C) are trained to observer and score the athlete based on the 3 required elements of taolu with a final score out of 10 provided after the completion of each routine.

International wushu competition is categorized by junior (18 and under) and senior (18 and over) level championships. In junior level events, the taolu routines are "compulsory" whereas each athlete performs identical movements and sequences that have been developed by the technical committee of the IWuF. Senior level events are competed using optional or "self choreographed" routines that can highlight the strengths of the individual athlete with the combined compusory elements setforth by the IWuF. This format of competition has been adapted by the IWuF since 2005, where prior to that all competitions made use of fully standardized compulsory taolu routines.

Taolu or routine training is considered by many to be one of the most important practices in Chinese martial arts. Traditionally, they played a smaller role in training combat application, and were eclipsed by sparring, drilling and conditioning. Taolu routines gradually build up a practitioner's flexibility, internal and external strength, speed and stamina, and teach balance and coordination without the necessity of actual combat. Many styles in the rich traditions of Chinese Kung Fu contain taolu routines using a wide range of weapons of various length and type, utilizing one or two hands. There are also styles which focus on a certain type of weapon. Taolu routines are meant to be practical, usable, and applicable as well as promoting agility, flow, meditation, flexibility, balance and coordination. Teachers and coaches are often heard to say "train your routine as if you were in combat and apply your skill as if it were a routine."