Dynamic Martial Arts

Contemporary Wushu - State of Art or Art of State

Extra! Extra! Wushu's Great Leap Forward leaves the rest of us two steps back!

In 1974 Chairman Mao past away. Though his communist slogan- "We must take a great leap forward', still echoes in the halls of China. How fitting this is for the state of Wushu today.

Wushu a dynamic sport/art is always evolving, always changing. This is obvious coming from China, a country always in a state of revolution such as the Fa Lung Gung protest, Tian an Men student uprising, Cultural revolution, communist revolution, Boxer rebellion, and the Taiping uprising to name a few.

The birthplace of Wushu has dictated the next revolution for its national treasure. This new Wushu is remodeled and packaged for inclusion as an official Olympic sport. The current wushu model has raised the difficulty level, revamped judging criteria and created new forms. New requirements and difficulties of contemporary Wushu has left many athletes injured and having to rethink their dedication and possibly even retire. These NanDu skills put tremendous stress on the body's joints. The inclusion of 540s, 720s and even 900 degree jump kicks and aerial twisting techniques has proven too stressful on the back and knees of the older athletes of wushu. Consideration 1: What can a transitional athlete do? Over the hill athletes- 18+ years may have had to give up those Olympic dreams.

In China the average career of the contemporary competition Wushu athlete can end at about 19 years old. That is about the age when injuries take their toll as the body becomes heavier similar to the situation in Olympic gymnastics where younger lighter bodies are needed to excel. NanDu has raised the bar. This has also created more stress more injuries and shorted careers.

I personally have seen contemporary Wushu evolve since the 70's. Take a look back:
In the early 80's U.S. caught on to contemporary Wushu. We elevated the skills to include 360 degree kicks with various landing skills, butterfly kicks with twists, and aerials. This was an innovative revolution here. In the decades that followed wushu in the U.S. evolved as more athletes joined in. The US and the world were trying to catch up to China. Then China introduced the new International Compulsory routines. This was created by the International Wushu Federation in an attempt to level the playing field for all countries. Everyone progressed to this state and it was good. Then things began to change again. What was once unique and cutting edge was now pre- formed and restricted. Everyone started to look the same. Even Wushu superstar -Jet Li commented on the mundane state of the Art. Jet grew up in communist China where everything was the same and dictated also saw a need for change- another revolution.

China once again began to revolutionize Wushu with the introduction of Nan Du rules to the Chinese competitions. Once again uniforms became more unique and colorful.

Enter the Dragon. As we entered a new millineum 2000 the year of the Dragon brought more changes. The Olympic dream came closer. In 2004 China acquired the 2008 Olympics. Then after a long wait we were handed the decree: Wushu would be part of the Olympic festival in Beijing. Though for whatever reason wushu did not meet the criteria to be an official sport. Our dream has eluded us once again.

Here we are in 2006 athletes have been given notice. Change is prevalent everything evolves so must our art.