Esimesed käsivõitluse vormid iidses Hiinas kerkisid esile Xia, Shang ja Zhou dünastia ajal. Need vormid, koos pronksist relvade kasutuselevõtuga, muutusid võitlusoskusteks ja olid kasutuses sõjaväe treeningutel nimega junlian (otsetõlkes armeetreening). Zhangguo ehk sõdivate riikide ajastu aegses Hiinas (770 – 221 e.m.a.) toimus võitluskunstide rolli tähtsuse kasv pidevate riikidevahelise sõja tõttu.
Esimesi tõendeid kodifitseeritud wushu vormidest leidub klassikalistes tekstides nagu „Shijing“ (Laulude Raamat), milles on Ood Laimajatele, kus leidub lause „Wu quan wu yong“, mida saab tõlkida kui „See, kes ei ole saavutanud meisterlikkust rusikavõitluses, ei saa olla vapper sõdalane“.
Tan’i ja Song’ dünastiate ajal (618-1279 m.a.) muutus wushu struktureeritumaks. Legendi kohaselt õpetas kuulus Songi kindral Yue Fei oma sõduritele oma leiutatud stiili Yuejiaquan. Ühe teise loo järgi oli Yue Fei kuulus oma meisterlikkuse poolest oda kasutamises, teda kutsuti hüüdnimega „shengqiang“ – võluoda. Hilisem stiil xingyiquan arvatakse olla loodud oda otserünnakute põhimõtetest.
Wushu kuldajastuks peetakse Mingi ja Qingi dünastiat. Mingi ajastu kindral Qi Jiguang kirjutas esimese õpiku wushu kohta pealkirjaga „Jixiao xinshu“ (otsetõlkes „Uus raamat võitluskunstist“), kus ta kirjeldas mitut vormi käsivõitlust ja relvastatud võitlust ja põhilisi strateegilisi põhimõtteid.
Tol ajal korraldati eksameid wushus neile, kel oli soov saada ohvitseriks.
Antud perjoodist alates kerkis esile erinevus sõjaväe wushus ja tsiviilelanike wushus.
Tsiviilisikute wushu põhitunnuseks oli seotus filosoofiliste ja religioonikoolkondadega, mis viis lõpuks erinevate stiilide tekkele nende põhimõtete alusel.
Selle spordi kaasaegne taassünd on seotud aastaga 1949 (Hiina Rahvavabariigi loomine) 1949. aastal sai wushust ametlik spordiala ning lisati ülehiinalisse võistluskavasse. Aastal 1958 moodustati rahvuslik alaliit Hiina Wushu Assotsiatsioon. Wushu osakonnad avati kõigis riigi põhilistes ülikoolides ja kehakultuuri instituutides. Wushu lisati Rahva Spartakiaadi, ühe tähtsaima Hiina spordiürituse kavasse.
Aastal 1979, Riikliku Spordi- ja Kehalise Kultuuri Komitee andis ühele wushu asjatundjate grupile ülesandeks koguda informatsiooni kõikide Hiina wushu stiilide kohta ja luua „Wushu entsüklopeedia“. Uurimismeeskond, läbi 6 aastase töö suutis videolindile jäädvustada umbes 500 eri wushu stiili ja koolkonda, avaldas kokkuvõtte wushu meistritest, vormidest ja stiilidest, ja ka „Wushu da cidian“ – „Wushu stiilide sõnaraamat“, kus kõik nende stiilide tehnikad kirjas olid.
1986. aastal loodud „wushu yanju yan“ (Wushu Uurimisinstituut) aitas koolitada wushu kohtunikke ja õpetajaid, publitseerida wushu õpetamise materjale ja täiustada olemasolevaid võistlusreegleid. Paljud wushu õpetajad väljastpoolt Hiinat on käinud antud instituudis oma oskusi täiustamas.
Viimase 20 aasta jooksul on wushu laiendanud oma mõju terves maailmas koos riiklike wushu föderatsioonide loomisega rohkem, kui sajas riigis, mille tulemusena tekkis 1991. aastal Rahvusvaheline Wushu Föderatsioon (IWUF – International Wushu Federation) ja selle mandrilised kogud – Euroopa, Aasia, Ameerika, Aafrika, Austraalia ja Okeaania wushu föderatsioonid. Nüüd on wushu spordina tunnustatud nii Rahvusvahelise Olümpia Komitee (IOC – International Olympic Committee) kui ka Ülemaailmse Rahvusvaheliste Spordiföderatsioonide Liidu (GAISF – Global Association of International Sports Federations) poolt.
Pekingi olümpial 2008 näidati Wushu tutvustava esinemisena. Selle võitluskunsti ajalugu küündib üle 3000 aasta tagusesse mineviku. Nii võib öelda, et tegemist on ühe pikima ajalooga spordiga mille ajalooline, kultuuriline, tervisele ja vaimsele arengule suunatud sisu on üks unikaalsemaid spordialasid millega saavad tegeleda kõik vanuse rühmad.
This article is about the modern sport Wushu (Wusu). For information on other types of Chinese martial arts, see Chinese martial arts.
The sport of wushu is both an exhibition and a full-contact sport derived from traditional Chinese martial arts. It was created in the People's Republic of China after 1949, in an attempt to nationalize the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts. Most of the modern competition forms (套路 taolu) were formed from their parent arts (see list below) by government-appointed committees. In contemporary times, wushu has become an international sport through the International Wushu Federation (IWUF), which holds the World Wushu Championships every two years; the first World Championships were held in 1991 in Beijing and won by Yuan Wen Qing.
Competitive wushu is composed of two disciplines: taolu (套路; forms) and sanda (散打; sparring). Taolu involve martial art patterns and maneuvers for which competitors are judged and given points according to specific rules. The forms comprise basic movements (stances, kicks, punches, balances, jumps, sweeps and throws) based on aggregate categories traditional Chinese martial art style and can be changed for competitions to highlight one's strengths. Competitive forms have time limits that can range from 1 minute, 20 seconds for some external styles to over five minutes for internal styles. Modern wushu competitors are increasingly training in aerial techniques such as 540 and 720 degree jumps and kicks to add more difficulty and style to their forms.
Sanda (sometimes called sanshou or Lei tai) is a modern fighting method and sport influenced by traditional Chinese boxing, Chinese wrestling methods called Shuai jiao and other Chinese grappling techniques such as Chin Na. It has all the combat aspects of wushu. Sanda appears much like Kickboxing or Muay Thai, but includes many more grappling techniques. Sanda fighting competitions are often held alongside taolu or form competitions.
In 1958, the government established the All-China Wushu Association as an umbrella organization to regulate martial arts training. The Chinese State Commission for Physical Culture and Sports took the lead in creating standardized forms for most of the major arts. During this period, a national Wushu system that included standard forms, teaching curriculum, and instructor grading was established. Wushu was introduced at both the high school and university level. This new system seek to incorporate common elements from all styles and forms as well as the general ideas associated with Chinese martial arts. Stylistic concepts such as hard, soft, internal, external, as well as classifications based on schools such as Shaolin, Taiji, Wudang and other were all integrated into one system. Wushu became the government sponsored standard for the training in martial arts in China. The push for standardization continued leading to wide spread adaptation. In 1979, the State Commission for Physical Culture and Sports created a special task force to teaching and practice of Wushu. In 1986, the Chinese National Research Institute of Wushu was established as the central authority for the research and administration of Wushu activities in the People's Republic of China.
Changing government policies and attitudes towards sports in general lead to the closing of the State Sports Commission (the central sports authority) in 1998. This closure is viewed as an attempt to partially de-politicize organized sports and move Chinese sport policies towards a more market-driven approach. As a result of these changing sociological factors within China, both traditional styles and modern Wushu approaches are being promoted by the Chinese government.
Wushu events are performed using compulsory or individual routines in competition. Compulsory routines are those routines that have been already created for the athlete, resulting in each athlete performing basically the same set. Individual routines are routines that an athlete creates with the aid of his/her coach, while following certain rules for difficulty.
In addition to events for individual routines, some wushu competitions also feature dual and group events. The dual event, also called duilian (对练), is an event in which there is some form of sparring with weapons, or without weapons or even using bare hands against weapons. The dual event is usually spectacular and actions are choreographed beforehand. The group event, also known as jiti (集体), requires a group of people to perform together and smooth synchronization of actions are crucial. Usually, the group event also allows instrumental music to accompany the choreography during the performance. The carpet used for the group event is also larger than the one used for individual routines.
Previously, international wushu competitions most often used compulsory routines, while high-level competitions in China most often used individual routines. However, after the 2003 Wushu World Games in Macau it was decided to opt for individual routines in international competition with nandu (难度; difficulty movements) integrating a maximum 2 point nandu score into the overall maximum score of 10.
There is some controversy concerning the inclusion of nandu in wushu because many of the movements created for the specific events are not originally movements used in those styles. In addition the number of injuries which have resulted from the inclusion of these nandu have caused many people to question their inclusion.
Those who support the new difficulty requirements follow the assertion that they help to progress the sport and improve the overall physical quality of the athletes.
Changquan (長拳 or Long Fist) refers to long-range extended wushu styles like Chaquan (查拳), Huaquan (華拳), Hongquan (洪拳; "flood fist"), and Shaolinquan (少林拳), but this wushu form is a modernized style derived from movements of these and other traditional styles. Changquan is the most widely-seen of the wushu forms, and includes speed, power,accuracy, and flexibility. Changquan is difficult to perform, requiring great flexibility and athleticism, and is often practiced from a young age.
Nanquan (南拳 or Southern Fist) refers to wushu styles originating in south China (i.e., south of the Yangtze River, including Hongjiaquan (Hung Gar) (洪家拳), Cailifoquan (Choy Li Fut) (蔡李佛拳), and Yongchunquan (Wing Chun) (詠春拳). Many are known for vigorous, athletic movements with very stable, low stances and intricate hand movements. This wushu form is a modern style derived from movements of these and other traditional southern styles. Nanquan typically requires less flexibility and has fewer acrobatics than Changquan, but it also requires greater leg stability and power generation through leg and hip coordination. This event was created in 1960.
Taijiquan (太極拳, T'ai chi ch'uan) is a wushu style famous for slow, relaxed movements, often seen as an exercise method for the elderly, and sometimes known as "T'ai chi" in Western countries to those otherwise unfamiliar with wushu. This wushu form is a modern recompilation based on the Yang (楊) style of Taijiquan, but also including movements of the Chen (陳), Wu (吳), Wu (武), and Sun (孫) styles.
 Short Weapons
Dao (刀 or knife) refers to any curved, one-sided sword/blade, but this wushu form is a Changquan method of using a medium-sized willow-leaf-shaped dao (柳葉刀).
Nandao (南刀 or Southern Style knife) refers a form performed with a curved, one sided sword/blade based on a the techniques of Nanquan. The weapon and techniques appears to be based on the butterfly swords of Yongchunquan, a well known Southern style. In the Wushu form, the blade has been lengthened and changed so that only one is used (as opposed to a pair). This event was created in 1992.
Jian (劍 or double-edged sword) refers to any double-edged straight sword/blade, but this wushu form is a Changquan method of using the jian.
Taijijian (太極劍 or Taiji double-edged sword) is an event using the jian based on traditional Taijiquan jian methods.
Gun (棍 or staff) refers to a long staff (shaped from white wax wood) as tall as the wrist of a person standing with his/her arms stretched upwards, but this wushu form is a Changquan method of using the white wax wood staff.
Nangun (南棍 or Southern cudgel) is a Nanquan method of using the staff. This event was created in 1992.
Qiang (槍 or spear) refers to a flexible spear with red horse hair attached to the spearhead, but this wushu form is a Changquan method of using the qiang.
The majority of routines used in the sport are new, modernized recompilations of traditional routines. However, routines taken directly from traditional styles, including the styles that are not part of standard events, may be performed in competition, especially in China. These routines generally do not garner as many points as their modern counterparts, and are performed in events separate from the compulsory routine events. Among these, the more commonly seen routines include:
• Baguazhang (八卦掌) – Eight-Trigrams Palm
• Bajiquan (八極拳) – Eight Extremes Fist/Boxing
• Chaquan (查拳) – Cha Fist/Boxing
• Changquan (长拳)- Long fist
• Chuojiao (戳腳) – Poking Feet
• Ditangquan (地躺拳) – Ground-Prone Fist/Boxing
• Fanziquan (翻子拳) – Tumbling Fist/Boxing
• Houquan (猴拳) – Monkey Fist/Boxing
• Huaquan (華拳) – Hua Fist/Boxing
• Nanquan (南拳）-Southern Fist
• Paochui (炮捶) – Cannon Punch
• Piguaquan (劈掛拳) – Chop-Hitch Fist/Boxing
• Shequan (蛇拳) – Snake Fist/Boxing
• Tantui (弹腿）- Spring Leg
• Tanglanghushi (螳螂虎势) – Praying Mantis and Tiger Style
• Tanglanquan (螳螂拳) – Praying Mantis Fist/Boxing
• Tongbeiquan (通背拳) – Through-the-Back Fist/Boxing
• Wing Chun (Yongchunquan) – Eternal Spring
• Xingyiquan (形意拳) – Shape-Intent Fist/Boxing
• Yingzhuaquan (鷹爪拳) – Eagle Claw Fist/Boxing
• Zuiquan (醉酒拳) – Drunken Fist/Boxing