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Wushu (武术 Wǔshù, dt. "Art of War"), also known in the West as modern Wushu , is a compilation of some forms of traditional Chinese martial arts and newly created by a committee recognized by the government of the People's Republic of China in the early 1950s .


In the late 19th century, traditional Chinese martial arts were rediscovered in China as a folk treasure, cultural heritage, and method of self-defense. The military weakness of the empire and the increasing influence of major European powers, Japan and the USA (see also gunboat policy ) prompted many Chinese to use traditional martial arts to fight Western colonization and Chinese Christians, for example during the Boxer Rebellion . During this humiliating time for many Chinese, martial artists like Huo Yuanjia and Wong Fei Hung were revered like folk heroes and were considered a symbol of Chinese self-assertion in times of unequal contracts .

After the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the end of the Chinese Civil War, the government of the People's Republic of China founded a sports association in the 1950s , in which many Wushu masters were to participate in order to develop a canon of standard forms and categories of martial arts. Modern wushu was officially recognized by the Chinese government in 1959.

In 1990 the association IWUF ("International Wushu Federation") was founded, which holds the Wushu World Championships every two years and is recognized as the official association for Wushu.

With the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing , efforts were made to introduce modern wushu as another Olympic discipline. In October 2005, however, this was rejected by the International Olympic Committee . Wushu has been part of the World Combat Games program since 2010 .

Competitive wushu

There are three variations in competitive wushu:

  1. The non-contact wushu
  2. The widespread half-contact wushu
  3. The full contact wushu

Conflicts with traditional styles

When modern Wushu was officially recognized by the Chinese government in 1959, the previous separation of traditional martial arts according to styles and systems was also officially lifted.

When putting together the modern “standard forms”, particular attention was paid to aspects of public appeal (acrobatic elements), body control and dynamism. The applicability in self-defense or in combat as well as the elements of meditation, qigong and philosophical or religious references that are often important in traditional martial arts have been neglected. For this reason, modern wushu is very controversial and not recognized by some followers of traditional wushu styles.

Meanwhile, the international association for Wushu (IWUF) is approaching the traditional styles again and is also promoting the traditional forms.

"Future: In order not only to promote the so-called modern or new forms of competition, the IWUF is also trying to hold world championships for traditional forms in the future. Thus, a one-sided development of Wushu should be avoided.

The latest approach is to break away from the standardized forms of competition. "

- Website of the German Wushu Federation

Graduation system

As a further contrast to the traditional martial arts, which are organized in a more familiar and stepless manner, a graduation system was introduced in modern Wushu in 1998, which is divided into 9 levels:

1st to 3rd Duan (blue, white and gold eagle symbol)
the so-called basic level duan, for Wushu students with several years of experience. This category is roughly equivalent to the belt exams of other Asian martial arts.
4th to 6th Duan (blue, white and gold tiger symbol)
the so-called Intermediate Duan for Wushu practitioners who are already allowed to teach and who have been learning Wushu regularly for at least 10 years. From the 5th Duan, the scientific commitment in Wushu research must be proven, e.g. B. through publications.
7th to 9th Duan (blue, white and gold dragon symbol)
the so-called upper-level duan, which is only awarded to very experienced teachers or masters with above-average performance. From the 7th Duan onwards, the teacher can call himself “Grand Master”.

Web links

Commons : Wushu (sport)  - album with pictures, videos and audio files