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What is Wushu?

What is Wushu

Sport Wushu

Wushu, which is also referred to as kung-fu, is the collective term for the martial art practices which originated and developed in China. Today wushu has developed into various forms of practice, each with its own focus and goals. Some practices highlight health and well-being as their primary goal, while others stress maintaining the traditional culture and skills from which the arts originated. More recently, wushu has developed into a global competitive sport, which is practiced and enjoyed by thousands of people worldwide due to its unique and exciting content.

Sport wushu is categorized into two main categories, namely Taolu (Routines Competition) and Sanda (Free-Fighting Competition).


Taolu refers to the set routine (form) practice component of wushu. A taolu routine comprises of a continuously connected set of pre-determined techniques choreographed according to certain principles and philosophies to incorporate stylistic principles of attack and defense. These include hand techniques, leg techniques, jumps, sweeps, stances and footwork, seizing, throwing and wrestling, and balances.

At official World Wushu Championships, the main taolu event categories include:

Chang Quan(Long Fist)
Nanquan(Southern Fist)
Taijiquan(Tai Chi Chuan)
Taijijian(Tai Chi Straight Sword)
Jianshu(Straight Sword)
Nandao(Southern Broadsword)
Nangun(Southern Staff)
Duilian(Choreographed Sparring/Duel)
Baguazhang(Eight Trigrams Palm)
Shuangjian(Double Straight Swords)
Shuangdao(Double Broadswords)
Xingyiquan(Shape & Intent Fist)


Sanda is a modern unarmed combat sport that developed from traditional wushu techniques, and primarily makes use of punching, kicking, throwing, wrestling and defensive techniques.

Competition bouts take place on an elevated platform called a “leitai,” which is 80cm in height, 8m in width and 8m in length, and comprises of a frame covered in high density foam with a canvas cover. On the ground surrounding the platform is a protective cushion that is 30cm in height and 2 meters in width. Competing athletes wear protective gear that includes a headguard, chest protector, and gloves, as well as a mouthguard and a jockstrap.

Competition bouts comprise of 3 rounds in total, each lasting two minutes with a one-minute rest period between rounds. Apart from illegal blows and methods, sanda athletes may employ punching, kicking and throwing techniques from all styles of wushu.

An athlete will be declared the winner if he or she wins 2 out of the 3 rounds of a bout, or if his or her opponent is knocked out.


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