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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Kung fu basic training

Dar es salaam Wushu Club na Ngwaya Shaolin Kung fu Club,

katika mazoezi ya pamoja katika fukwe za bahari ya Hindi,
Kigamboni Jijini Dar es salaam.
Chini ya Shaolin Temple Tanzania Clubs.
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Saturday, January 27, 2018


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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Stretching Instructions.

In this section you will find stretching advice for martial arts, artistic gymnastics and fitness training.Here is a short list of all types of stretching, beginning with the one causing least muscle soreness:

  1. Static Passive Stretching - can be applied daily.
  2. Static Active Stretching - can be applied daily.
  3. Most Dynamic Stretching Techniques - can be applied 4 or 5 times per week.
  4. Dynamic Ballistic Stretching - can be applied 3 to 4 times per week.
  5. Isometric Stretching - can be applied 3 times per week. Not for growing children.
  6. PNF-Stretching Techniques - should not be applied more then 3 times per week. Not for growing children.

The Skeletal Muscle System of the Human Body

In this lesson you will learn the names of the most important muscle in the human body. Of course the skeletal muscle system of the human body has a lot more muscles but the ones illustrated here are the most important ones for the instructions on Flash Mavi. Note: A flexor is a muscle which bends a limb and an extendor extends a limb.


  • Stemocleidomastoid (throat muscle - frontside)
  • Bicpes (upper arm muscle - fron side - flexes the arm - bends the elbow)
  • Pectoralis (chest muscle - also called pecs - used for pushups)
  • Brachioradialis (forearm muscle - side)
  • Rectus Abdominis (stomach muscles - also called abdominals or abs)
  • External Oblique (waist muscle - on the sides of the abdominals)
  • Rectus Femoris (the leg extensor between vastus medialis and vastus lateralis - middle of the quadriceps)
  • Sartorius (a thin, long muscle that goes from the inside of the knee to the outside of the hip)
  • Vastus Lateralis & Medialis (inner and outher muscles on the front side of the thigh. laterailis = outside, medialis = inside)
  • Tibialis (front side of the lower leg - opposite of the calf muscle - flexor)
  • Deltoids (shoulder muscles - also called delts)
  • Trapezius (neck muscle - goes from the head to the back - also called traps)
  • Triceps (muscles on the back side of the upper arm)
  • Latissimus Dorsi (biggest back muscle - That's the muscle you need for rowing or chinups - also called Lat)
  • Gluteus Maximus (butt muscle - also called glute / glutes)
  • Biceps Femoris (upper part of the back side of the leg muscle - flexor - goes from the knee to the glutes)
  • Semitendinosus (next to the biceps femoris - inside - biceps femoris and semitendinosus are the hamstrings)
  • Gastrocnemius (calf muscles - extend the foot)
  • Soleus (flat broader calf muscles underneath the gastrocnemius)


  • It will be easier to follow some of the weight training and stretching instructions if you know the most important muscles.
  • The human skeleton with its muscles is called "Muscoskeletal System" (Muscles and bones allow us to move around).

The Human Skeleton

In this lesson you will learn the names of the most important bones of the human skeleton. The human body consists of hundreds of bones and for an athlete it's not necessary to know all of them. But if you are learning from FM's online instructions you should know some of them, because many lessons here are easier to understand if you know about the anatomy of the human body.


  • Maxilla - The bone of the upper jaw.
  • Mandible - The bone of the lower jaw.
  • Clavicle - Bone linking the scapula and sternum. Also called collar bone.
  • Humerus - Upper arm bone. The bone extending from the shoulder to the elbow.
  • Radius - When your arms hang down relaxed and the thumbs point away from the body, the outer and shorter forearm bone.
  • Ulna - When your arms hang down and the thumbs point out, the inner and stronger bone of the forearm.
  • Sternum - The flat bone that articulates with the clavicles and the 1st seven rib pairs.
    Also called breast bone.
  • Ribs - The bones extending from the spine to or toward the sternum. Also called Costas.
  • Pelvis - Bone connecting the spine and the legs. Also: Hip bone.
  • Femur - Upper leg / Thigh bone - The biggest bone in the human body.
  • Patella - The small triangular bone protecting the knee joint.
    Also called knee cap and knee pan.
  • Tibia - the stronger bone of the lower leg - Connects knee with the ankle.
    Also shin or shin bone.
  • Fibula - The thinner and weaker bone of the lower leg. Also: Calf bone.
  • Skull - Head.
  • Spine - Bones between head and hips.
  • Scapula - Shoulder blade / Shoulder bone. Flat triangular bone on the side of the shoulder.
  • Calcaneus - Heel bone.


  • If you know the names of the bones mentioned here,
    it will be easier to understand some of the instructions on this website.
  • The human skeleton with its muscles is called "Musco-Skeletal System".
    (Muscles and bones allow us to move around).

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Wushu - Chinese Martial Arts.

Basic Wushu Sweeps & Kicks
  • Side Kick (ce shuai tui)
  • Front Sweep (qian sao)
  • Back Sweep (hou sao)

Wushu Side Kick

In this lesson you will learn how to do a wushu side kick. In Chinese Mandarin this is called "Ce Shuai Tui". The side kick is one of the most basic kicks and should be part of your wushu warm-up routine. What's typical about the side kick in wushu taolu (forms), is that both arms are extended and it's ok if you lean back a little. In combat sports like muay thai or sanda the side kick is executed differently. Find more wushu instructions at wushu main.


  • Stand upright with hands on your sides.
  • Step forward with your left foot and lift your arms a bit. (lift arms sideways)
  • Then step forward with your right leg and let your arms fall. Cross your arms, make a big circle and then cross your arms a second time. Put your forearms over each-other. Some athletes only cross their wrists. Watch your right hand as you open your arms.
  • The left hand stops over the right hand (or forearm over forearm). Your fingers point up any you look to the left.
  • Now your legs are crossed, your arms are crossed and you look to the left. Hold this position for about one second.
  • Then lift your left knee and kick with your left leg. Twist on on your standing foot and lean back a little. Make sure you keep looking straight forward.
  • Fully extend your arms as you kick. Both hands form palms (zhang). The right hand points up and the left hand points to the right.
  • Hold this position for about one second.
  • Then let your kicking leg fall. In wushu taolu you don't have to pull your knee back towards your chest after the kick.In sanda that would be important because you don't want your opponent to catch your kick.


  • Stretch your splits.
  • Exercise: Hold on a chair and do 10 to 20 slow side kicks.
  • Practice both, left and right wushu side kick.
  • For isometric strength, you can try to hold your wushu side kicks for a few seconds.

Wushu Front Sweep

In this lesson you will learn how to do a wushu front sweep. In Chinese this is called: "Qian Sao". The front sweep is one of the most basic wushu skills and you should work on it at least 2 or 3 times a week. A full wushu front sweep is 540 degrees. That's 180 degrees of an initial turn which is used to create momentum and balance, plus 360° twist on the ball of the left foot. In wushu competitions, the 540 front sweep without hands values as much as a cartwheel without hands or a flying wushu frontkick. If your hands touch the floor the sweep doesn't count at all. The front sweep 900 values as much as a wushu whirlwind kick 540. 


  • Before you do the actual wushu front sweep, you always have to do a smash punch. For detailed instructions on how to do a smash punch, please visit the smash punch tutorial at wushu, longfist.
  • BTW, I modified the movement after the smash punch a little, so that it's easer to practice. The real movement is a bit different If you wanna use the original version, skip the next bullet point.
  • Wait one or two seconds and look straight forward. Then step back with your left leg like illustrated above. At the same time extend your left arm in front of you and pull your right fist to the hip. The left hand forms a palm and the fingers point up. Keep your upper body vertical and don't stand up as you step back. Your head has to stay at the same height.
  • Open your right fist and extend the right arm behind the back, so that left and right arm are in a horizontal line. From now on your upper body has to stay perfectly vertically and your arms only move in a horizontal layer. This helps balancing the initial turning phase of the front sweep.
  • Now start swinging your lined up, extended arms, until your arms are in one line with your chest. Then lock your shoulders. From here, trunk arms and head move as one unit. Move backwards at the same time and put your left heel down. This and the next 2 stages are the initial turn of the front sweep. The purpose of the initial turn is to create momentum for the actual twist / sweep on the ball of the left foot. Important: During the initial turn you put your heel down, then turn on the heel and finally put the ball of the foot down again. After that, the actual sweep begins. So make sure your learn to balance the initial turn properly. Keep your arms wide open and make sure your upper body stays vertical. If you mess up the initial turn, the wushu front sweep will not work. If you are a beginner, I recommend you only practice the wushu smash punch and the turn without the sweep for a while.
  • As mentioned in the last step , now arms, trunk and head move as one unit. Now turn your hips and keep balance with your arms. (trunk stays vertical) Watch the left foot: Now the toes are raised and you twist on the heel.
  • This is still the initial turning phase and now your right foot starts moving. Important: The toes of the right foot have to point to the sweeping direction like an arrow. The center of rotation should be in one line with your left foot and your spine. But if you are slightly off, you can still adjust the position during the next 180 degrees. That´s what the inital turn is for ! Sweep 180 degrees and step from the right heel onto the right ball of the foot. Trunk, head, arms and right leg move as one unit.
  • Then the actual wushu sweep begins. (end of the initial turn) Here you lock your entire body and let go on the ball of your left foot. The center of rotation goes through your spine and the left ball of your foot. Keep head high and view horizontal. If you did the inital turn of the front sweep correctly, you will easily be able to sweep around once or twice. If your right leg gets stuck or you fall backwards or you slip, you didn't keep your upper body vertical enough during the initial turning phase. (keep practicing the inital turn) To speed up the sweep, close your hands in front of the chest. The arms can be used to improve balance during the sweep. Keep your view horizontal. Keep the right leg fully extended. To speed up and stabilize the sweep, stand up a little as you sweep around and bring your hands closer to your chest. The left leg should not be too relaxed or you will automatically round your back. Many beginners put their hands down at the beginning. This leads to a bent back and a sweep with a not-vertical upper body. It will take you much longer to learn the front sweep without hands if you get used to using the hands. If you already learned the front sweep with hands, start over and work on the initial turn. However, lets say you already gave it up and wanna use your hands now: Then you can put your hands down instead of closing the hands after the initial turn. This way the practice of the turn wasn´t a total waste of time
    NOTE: The front sweep with hands doesn't score in most wushu competitions.
  • Lean slightly forward and / or open your arms to stop the sweep. For information on how to sweep around twice, please check the related links below. A normal wushu front sweep ends after a 180° turn plus a 360 degree twist => Wushu Front Sweep 540
  • There are different ending positions for the front sweep. Most endings are wushu flat stance "PU BU" positions, but you can also end in a bow stance or a wushu rest stance. Above you can see the most popular flat stance ending. Keep turning your upper body and open your arms like shown above. right arm up, left arm extended behind the back. This is like a very low wushu bow stance.
  • Then turn back fast and go into a flat stance with both heels on the floor. Right hand: Hook behind the back Left hand: Palm - Pointing up. Both elbows extended, Left knee extended. Flip your hands at the same time when you lock the end position of the wushu front sweep.


  • At the beginning you should only practice the initial turn without the actual sweep.
  • If you wanna learn how to do the wushu front sweep 900, check out the videos.
    Summary: For the front sweep 900 I recommend you keep the arms opened during the entire first rotation and close them in or shortly before the second rotation. However, the 900 can also be done like the a normal 540 sweep - closing the arms before the first rotation. Another difference is that you have to apply pressure through your left leg while you sweep around. This gives you more hold on the left foot and when the sweeping leg comes a bit closer, the rotation speed goes up.
    • If you stand up on one leg and keep your spine perfectly in the center of rotation,
      even 4 or 5 rotation are possible. I tried that with ballet shoes on a slippery ground - but if you fall, you fall hard ;)) Btw, the higher you stand up, the less it will look like a wushu front sweep.

Wushu Back Sweep

In this lesson you will learn how to do a wushu back sweep. In Chinese (Mandarin): "Hou Sao" The back sweep is a basic wushu leg technique and should be practiced in every training session. There are two different wushu sweeps; the front sweep and the back sweep. The Back sweep starts and ends in a wushu bow stance. The rotation is 360°. The hands are allowed to touch the ground. Make sure you know the 5 basic stances before you learn the wushu back sweep.


  • Start from a wushu bow stance, left leg forward, both hands extended in front of your chest. Arms parallel, elbows straightened, palms point forward and finger tips up.
  • Go into a low flat stance (wushu pu bu) and move both hands towards the right knee.
  • This builds up a tension in your torso, which will be used to initiate the sweep. Touch the floor with your hands (under your right knee) and release the tension from your torso in order to sweep clockwise.
  • To stop the rotation after 360°, put pressure on your sweeping leg and go into a bow stance.
  • The left palm points straight forward and the right hand is extended behind the back.(crane)


  • Stretch your wushu bow stance and your wushu flat stance.
  • Stand up from a left flat stance without using your hands and without putting any pressure on the extended leg. This will help improve your balance.

Origins and Meaning of the Kung Fu Salute.

Meaning of the Kung Fu Salute.

The Kung Fu salute or bow is known in Chinese as wushu baoquan li 武术抱拳礼 which roughly translates to the “Kungfu courtesy of covering one’s fist”. The Kung Fu salute is generally characterised by an open left hand placed next to a closed right fist. The importance is that the fingers on the left hand should stay extended and not flexed to cover the right fist. This is a variation of the traditional Chinese greeting known as Zuo Yi作揖 and the entire ceremonial practice known as Yi Li揖礼 which can be roughly translated as the greeting courtesy.

The Kung Fu salute varies upon this to form a unique and sometimes secret greeting amongst martial artists in the pugilistic world known as Jiang Hu 江湖. The term Jiang Hu literally means Rivers and Lakes, this terminology coined from the concept that in the past martial artists were wanderers and vagabonds who had no fixed place of residence, poetically similar to the ever changing scenery of rivers and lakes.

As there are variations in the salute there are many interpretations as to the exact meaning behind the salute. The first meaning which became popular within Chinese folklore and fiction; in particular Heroes of the Water Margin 水浒传, is the association with the concept of wanderers living in the Jiang Hu. The five fingers of the right fist five lakes 五湖 (in ancient Chinese geography there were only five main lakes) and the four straight fingers of the left hand represent the four seas 四海 (one per direction; East, West, South and North 东西南北). Together they represent an union of everything encompassed within the five lakes and four seas, which as the ancient Chinese knew was the world and ultimately becomes the proverb “Across the five lakes and four seas all men are brothers” 五湖四海皆兄弟 or simply “All men are brothers.” This simplified translation has also been used as an alternative title for the novel Heroes of the Water Margin.

Another explanation of the salute comes from the Confucian ideal of perfection through pursuit of both the scholarly and martial arts 文武双全 and the process of perfecting both arts 文武双修. Confucius himself stated the need for a true gentleman to be a master of both the scholarly and the martial, so that should the need arise he could lead armies to defend his family and country and Confucius himself was a skilled horseman and archer. In this explanation the right hand represents the martial component of a martial artist; Wu 武, whilst the left hand represents the more scholarly aspects of a person; Wen 文. This can be examined through the closed fist; an universal symbol for violence, is rigid and does not have the capacity to grasp new things and be gentle. Meanwhile an open hand symbolises openness, respect, courtesy and piety representing the more scholarly pursuits of knowledge and wisdom. The combination of the left hand upon the right fist symbolises that whilst a person is capable of the martial he or she will refrain from it as it is suppressed by respect and courtesy for others which is above any need for martial conflict.

Whilst the above two are the more commonly accepted explanations for the Kung Fu salute there are others which have had strong political influences. The use of the salute as a secret code for compatriots was strongly seen in the early Qing dynasty after the Han Chinese government; the Ming dynasty, was overthrown by the foreign Manchu empire. During this time of political discontent the Han Chinese often formed secret rebel groups and as martial artists were the most likely candidate for these rebellious anti-government activities it was only natural that they formed their own secret codes. Some used the Kung Fu salute or its reverse to symbolise to another stranger that they were allies in the same cause. The closed fist was likened to the character for the sun 日 whereas the open hand was likened to the character for moon 月. When these two characters are placed together they form a new character Ming 明, which is both the name of the previous dynasty and the character meaning illumination or to understand. This shows their allegiance to the old Ming dynasty and their cause to repel the Qing (Manchurians) and restore the Ming (Han Chinese) 反清复明.

Whilst there are still many other variations of the Kung Fu salute and many other explanations, these are the most commonly accepted explanations for the standard Kung Fu salute.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Wushu - Chinese Martial Arts.

Wushu Slapkick

The slapkick (dan pai jiao - lit: "single slap leg") is the last of the 5 basic wushu kicks and should be practiced in every training session. Wushu slapkicks are only done with the right leg and are often seen in freestyle longfistand wushu ditang forms. Typical combinations are slapkicks followed by smash punches or arm circles. Learn the wushu slapkick before you try your first flying wushu frontkick. 


  • Stand upright with your left foot a bit more than one shoulder width in front of the right foot. The right leg is extended and the left leg is bent slightly. Extend your right arm almost horizontal in front of you and let the fingers point slightly down. Both hands form palms. The left hand is held upright about one inch next to the right elbow. Look straight forward and keep your upper body extended and vertical.
  • Swing your extended right arm back and watch the right hand for a moment (turn the head short moment). The left hand sinks down slowly until the arm is extended and both arms are in one line. At the same time make a hop to switch legs. This hop should not be high but fast. Instead of doing this hop you can also walk forward fast.
  • Land on your right leg. Now the left foot is one shoulder width behind the right foot. The left knee is extended and the left foot "can" touch the floor slightly. Look straight forward again before the right hand passes horizontal level. Keep swinging your extended, lined up arms forward up, until the left arm reaches head height.
  • Step forward with your left foot and stop swinging the left hand at head height. The right arm still moves. So the arms are not lined up anymore !
  • Swing up your extended right leg (with the ankle extended totally) and clap your hands together in front of your head, as short as possible before you will slap your foot. It is very important that you keep your right leg and your upper body extended (upper body vertical), that your right heel stays on the floor during the whole kick and that you don't look down or up as you kick. Also don't extend the hips to kick higher. The kick has to be fast, not high!
  • Clap your right foot and your right hand together shortly after the hand-clap. At the same time, move your left back.
  • Snap down you right leg even faster than you kicked up. Extend the right arm in front of you and the left arm behind you. Look straight forward and keep your head as high as possible without lifting the left heel (extend upper body). Both elbows and both knees have to be extended totally.


  • Try to do your wushu slapkicks as fast as you can.
  • Don't open your hips as you kicks.
  • The time between hand and foot slap should be as short as possible.
  • The wushu kick should be part of your daily warm-up routine.

Wushu Toe Fist Kick

The toe fist kick is one of the most basic wushu kicks. However, most wushu practitioners don't practice it every day. In Chinese this kick is called "Tan Ti". Tanti is a horizontal wushu kick with a synchronous punch. Punch with your left hand when you kick with your right leg and the other way around. 


  • Beginning position: Stand straight with legs closed and let your arms hang down on your sides. Look straight forward.
  • Make a fast, short step to your right, like if you were doing a small horse stance. Pull your right fist to your right hip and put your left palm in front of your right shoulder. The fingers of your left hand have to point up. Also turn your head and look down 45° (to the right). Inhale at the same time.
  • Then turn your head forward again a and punch with your right fist. Exhale at the same time and extend your left leg so that only tip of your shoe touches the floor. Pull your left fist to your left hip.
  • The wushu toe fist kick: Step forward with your left foot (heel first) and kick with the right foot (ankle fully extended - toes point straight forward). Lift your knee first and then extend your leg. At the same time, punch with your left fist.
  • Keep looking straight forward and exhale as you kick/punch.
  • Hold the end position for a short moment and then let your foot fall slowly.
  • Step forward with your right foot and to a wushu toe fist kick with your left leg.


  • Kick and punch horizontally.
  • By holding each kick for a few seconds, you can improve your hip strength.
  • Do 8 kicks in a row. 4 left kicks and 4 right kicks.
  • The toe fist kick should be part of your wushu warm up routine.

Wushu Heel-Palm- Kick

The heel palm kick is one of the most basic wushu kicks, but you don't really have to practice it every day. In Chinese (Mandarin) this kick is called "Deng Tui". Dengtui is a horizontal wushu heel kick with a synchronous palm punch. When you kick with the right foot, you punch with the left palm and when you kick with the left foot, you punch with the right palm. For more wushu kicks and basics,


  • Beginning position: Stand upright with legs closed and your arms relaxed.
  • Make a fast step to your right (about 2 ft, like if you are doing a half wushu horse stance), pull your right palm to your right hip and put your left palm in front of your right shoulder. The fingers of the right hand point down and the fingers of the left hand point down. Also turn your head and look down 45° (to the right) for a moment. Inhale at the same time.
  • Then turn your head forward again and punch with your right palm. Exhale at the same time and extend your left leg so that only tip of your shoe touches the floor. Pull your left palm to your left hip.
  • The toe-fist- kick: Step forward with your left foot (heel first) and kick with the right foot (ankle flexed - toes point up). At the same time, punch with your left palm.
  • Keep looking straight forward and exhale as you kick/punch.
  • Hold the end position for a short moment and then let your foot fall slowly.
  • Now step forward with your right foot and do the whole thing the other way around.


  • Kicks and punches have to be horizontal.
  • To improve your hip strength, try to hold each kick for a few seconds.
  • Do 8 kicks in a row. 4 kicks with the right leg and 4 kicks with the left leg.

The Brief History of Shaolin Temple.

The Shaolin Temple was built in 495 AD by Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty for the Indian monk Batuo. Thirty two years later, another Indian monk Bodhidharma arrived at Shaolin temple. He is the first monk preaching Chan doctrines here, thus was honored as the first Patriarch of Chinese Chan. Thereafter, Shaolin Temple was recognized as the origin of Chan Buddhism.

Besides, it is known that martial arts have been practiced at the temple throughout its history. A legend had it that Bodhidharma found monks weak and unhealthy after long time meditation practices, so he developed the martial arts to strengthen them, which formed the basis of Shaolin Kungfu. However the unique aspect of Shaolin culture is the combination of Shaolin Kungfu and Chan Buddhism.

13 Shaolin monks saved Tang Emperor (in Avalokitesvara Hall)

Situated at the Song Mountain, the Central Sacred Mountain, the temple was frequented by generals and emperors. Until its modern renaissance, the golden age of the monastery has been said to be during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). At the beginning of the seventh century, a tiny army of 13 Shaolin monks were reputed to have saved future Tang Dynasty emperor Li Shimin. When he took power, Li showered favors, land and wealth on the temple, then it thrived as a Kungfu center, with masters from around the country.

Shaolin Temple peaked in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and began to decline in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). At its heyday, it housed more than 3,000 monks. The long history includes destructions and reconstructions, with the most devastatingone in 1928 by warlord Shi Yousan, when a blaze raged for more than 40 days destroying nearly all the temple’s classics and records. Upon successive renovation, most architectures of Shaolin Temple have been restored or under reconstruction now.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Tradition Wushu and Competition Wushu

When one mentions wushu, many Americans may not understand. But, if one mentions kung fu, everyone knows what is meant. The correct name is, indeed, wushu, as I discussed in detail in my article, “Wushu Needs Name Rectification
In the long golden river of Chinese cultural history, wushu is a feature of great significance. It is broad and deep and so profound that one cannot see its beginning or its end. It is so broad that one cannot see its edges. Over its five-thousand-year history, it has acquired a theoretical framework that embraces many Chinese traditional cultures (classical philosophy, ethics, militia, regimen, Chinese medicine, and aesthetic, etc.). Its association with Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and hundreds of other Chinese philosophical systems cannot be ignored. Chinese wushu is not only treasured for defense, physical exercise, preventing illness, and longevity, it also best illustrates Chinese behavior, morality, philosophy, and aesthetic expression. It mixes in a philosophy of living and an understanding of the human condition. Inheriting all that is excellent in Chinese culture, it is regarded by the Chinese as a cultural treasure.
Traditional Wushu
So-called “traditional wushu” refers to a martial art that has its roots in China. In the Chinese history of martial arts, “traditional wushu” has often combined “military wushu” and “folk wushu” into one. In ancient times, those martial arts practiced by military personnel were called “military wushu.” Those outside of “military wushu” were called “folk wushu,” practiced by ordinary people. In the early development stage of wushu, its whole content was military wushu. During the Western Chou dynasty, after the collapse of the slavery system, military wushu (which had been controlled by the slave masters) was introduced to the ordinary people. The resulting phenomenon was that military wushu and folk wushu had their own features but were interconnected. They interacted and were influenced by each other, but developed in parallel. In terms of their interactions and sources of influence, folk wushu grew out of military wushu.
Defensive and attacking movements are the essential ingredients. Folk wushu enriched itself by absorbing inputs from military wushu and grew. The people’s heroes, Yue Fei (in Southern Sung), Qi Jiguang (Ming) and Yu Dayou (Ming), etc., are the important figures who promoted the interactions of military wushu and folk wushu. From their distinctive roles, military wushu developed killing techniques against large enemy masses. It emphasized the coordination of movements in group fighting and advancing in a battle. Its purpose was to defeat and kill the enemy. The techniques are mainly in weaponry skills with long spears, broad knifes, long bows, etc. Fighting skills by fist or foot were regarded as irrelevant in warfare.
Folk wushu is a combative form for competition on a stage or for catching thieves. The emphasis is on individual combat, and training focuses on the development of technical and physical skills for an individual. Its purpose is to defeat or capture the opponent, or to avoid being hurt by the opponent. The techniques focus primarily on boxing. Typical weapons are single knife, sword, rod, spear, iron chain, two-jointed pike, etc., which are shorter and smaller in size than military weapons but easier to carry. Military wushu developed its technical systems with a mind toward warfare and military conflict. Ultimately, it is a military skill. Historically, after the invention of firearms, military wushu lost its value and was abandoned by the military, only to be integrated into folk wushu. Folk wushu developed out of a need to meet individual combative situations. Broadly absorbing ancient medicine and Daoyin (guides to regimen), etc., it continues to grow deeper and richer.
Folk wushu has a long history; its skills have passed from father to sons and from teacher to students in many cities and towns. It has acquired a system of traditional customs. To be accepted as a wushu student, one must perform various rituals: kneeling and bowing to teachers, reciting the teaching of ancestors, swearing by an oath, and praying to the ancient grandmasters. After a fireworks display, the student then throws a banquet for friends and teachers. Some schools have school masters and rank according to seniority. The student shall respect his/her teacher as he/she respects his/her parents, and the students in a school are close as brothers or sisters in a family. The teaching of folk wushu requires that the developed skills and techniques of the school not be changed. One shall not change developed skills and techniques of an ancient master (founder); otherwise, one may be regarded as a traitor. Only schools that teach traditional skills are regarded as “legitimate.” One might infer from this that the teaching of folk wushu is rather conservative. If one is neither a relative nor a favorite student of the teacher, one might not be taught those excellent traditional skills. The master might reserve his best technique for himself. It has been said in the doctrine of boxing: “Keep a skill out of ten skills to prevent students from overwhelming teachers,” or “After a student has learnt all the skills, the teacher might starve.” Folk wushu teachers have different levels of education. Some might be from wushu families, well-trained by family members, or perhaps learning from famous teachers and friends. Some might not only have excellent wushu skills, their education quality might be high. They could be scholars and educators who have written classical articles and books to guide the art’s development for future generations. Some wushuists, having only a few years of education from privately-taught schools, have self-taught themselves to gain a deep understanding of traditional wushu. They may have invented their own excellent wushu skills and are destined to become great masters of their generation. Some have a rather low level of education, perhaps not even being able to read, but by being attentive to teachers and understanding the good skills of a school, they will open their own training centers and pass on his skills to the next generation.
Some of the wushuists earned their living by performing their skills on the streets. Those with really excellent skills might have been invited to lead some central or local governmental wushu centers, or might have become military trainers in armies. Many teachers in folk wushu have martial arts skills, but they might possess other skills as well, e.g., in geomancy, fortune-telling, physiognomy, or divination. Some may specialize in folk medicines. The southern Shaolin style wushu centers may teach the arts of lion and dragon dances. In past times, many boxers were Taoists, Buddhists, or believers in other religions such as the Eight Hexagram Society, the Clear Water Society, or the White Lotus Society, etc. Traditional wushu and religions are as interconnected as flesh and blood in a body. Many folk stories circulate about legendary martial arts events. In past times, many folk wushuists and wushu practitioners defeated foreign boxers and strong men. They won glory for the country, washed away the shame of being the sick man of Asia, and renewed the good spirit of the nation.

Hexagram Society, the Clear Water Society, or the White Lotus Society, etc. Traditional wushu and religions are as interconnected as flesh and blood in a body. Many folk stories circulate about legendary martial arts events. In past times, many folk wushuists and wushu practitioners defeated foreign boxers and strong men. They won glory for the country, washed away the shame of being the sick man of Asia, and renewed the good spirit of the nation.
Traditional wushu has its theoretical foundation in Chinese classical culture. Its training courses involve bare-handed and weapon defense and attack. It has developed into three training patterns — mental training, fighting, and set routines. In the early ’80s, after several years’ investigation in China, a compilation of folk boxing and weapon skills was written. Of thousands of traditional boxing styles, the material selected was the most “well organized, clearly developed, having specialized features, and uniquely established” systems consisting of 129 styles, 480 valuable wushu articles and books, and 400 pieces of weapons. 400 hours of video records were created. It preserves a good number of historical records on some excellent senior wushu artists. Based on the investigation, a 400,000-word book, A RECORD ON CHINESE WUSHU CHUAN AND WEAPONS, was published in China and overseas. Traditional wushu has accumulated the essence of Chinese traditional cultures.
Classical Chinese philosophy originated from the book of “Changes.” Its core is the theory of “Tai-chi, yin and yang, the five elements, and the eight hexagram.” It has guided the developments of ancient Chinese sciences, technical skills, culture, education, military, engineering, astronomy, geography, medicine, and agriculture. The Chinese have utilized the theory of Tai-chi, yin-yang, the five elements, and eight hexagram to create Tai-chi Chuan, Bagua (eight hexagram) Chuan, Hsing-I Chuan, etc., which are internal martial arts specialized in defeating the opponent based on calmness. Traditional wushu artists have studied human beings and discovered the existence of virtual points (for acupuncture) and invisible circulation paths in a human body. In wushu practice, one shall accumulate “qi” (essence of life, internal energy) into dan-tien (lower abdomen, hypogastrium), use “qi” to promote strength, circulate “qi” in the whole body with the guidance of one’s mind. In the performance of Chinese traditional wushu, one shall focus on “jing” (vigour), “qi,” and “shen” (good spirit). The harmony of yin and yang, the five elements, and the eight hexagram has become the theoretical core of the Wudang (internal wushu) school.
Based on these, this school is pursuing the principles of “training to turn energy into qi, turn qi into shen, return shen into void, and return void into tao,” which may improve one’s wisdom. With these, the internal wushu style emphasizes circular movements, training chi and focusing on shen, in favor of softness and calmness, and will neither be in hastiness nor in stillness. The training of an internal wushu artist will focus on the development of internal strength, and the harmony of external and internal power. In fighting, he/she shall stick with and follow his/her opponent, and use soft strength to overcome the external power of his/her opponent. In this way, one may develop internally and externally his/her good spirit and physical strength. The goal is to have good health and develop a sound human character.
Traditional wushu emphasizes “shu” (skill) and not brutal force. It is for this reason that the word “shu” appears in the name of wushu. The method of training is to practice “kung” (work) — practicing basic physical and mental skills, set routines, and single defense or striking techniques. All of the traditional Chinese schools are training their students in this way. Both external and internal wushu artists are trained in this way from one generation to the next. That is why it is called traditional. When one has achieved the highest level of wushu, one obtains the harmony of external and internal power, good spirit, and healthy physical appearance. Traditional wushu was not only influenced by Chinese traditional cultures but also by the wushuists who have actively incorporated Chinese traditional cultures into the development of boxing skills, and establishing boxing principles. In this way, they have combined education and martial skills into a system which can provide sound theories for wushu practice. For example, from the Chinese traditional culture on the harmony of heaven and a human being – a philosophy on the universe – the wushu artist understands the relation of internal spirit and external appearance. In the theory of traditional wushu, the principle of wushu skills emphasizes the “unification of internal and external” aspects and “the feeling awareness.” The wushu teaching principle emphasizes “learning both internal and external” aspects. The wushu training principle emphasizes “the guidance from inside and outside,” etc. These enable the forms of movements of traditional wushu to express the attitudes of “harmony in external forms, full of internal motivations, and the presence of both sound physical appearance and spirit.”
Influenced by Chinese traditional culture with its opposition to brutal force, and guided by the ideas of softness and hardness, traditional wushu emphasizes the importance – in a combative situation – of turning a little force into a big one and slow speed to fast speed, and profoundly achieving the possibility that “reacting force can reach first”, and “deflecting the momentum of a thousand pounds with a trigger force of four ounces.”
The Shaolin school style bears the influence of Zen philosophy. It has adopted the practice of Zen into its martial art system, emphasizing “the unification of boxing and Zen into one.” Wudang school style emphasizes softness and calmness: one’s movement shall be soft, circular and smooth. It relies on calmness to overcome brutal force. From the appearance of its boxing techniques, traditional wushu techniques require the harmony and unification of the four aspects of movement: will, chi, strength, and form. If one part of the body is reacting, the whole body shall react. If one part of the body has reached a target, the whole body should have reached too. This regularity of “internal and external unification” whole-body movement expresses the concept of “unification of heaven and body.” When practicing traditional wushu, during the change of one movement to another, one must possess calmness when the body is in action. When in a finishing position, one shall keep ready “to act while in calmness.”
In action, one should keep “the balance between yin and yang.” In a combative situation, maintain a defensive attitude while attacking the opponent, and maintain an offensive attitude while in a defensive position. One needs not only a detailed understanding of the conflicts between the two parties, but also of the interdependence between the engaged parties, in addition to skills of action and reaction. These are the applications of the ancient Chinese yin-yang principle in traditional wushu skills. Traditional wushu maintains an understanding of defense and offense attitudes at its philosophical foundation. This kind of foundation has been further developed by philosophers. Wushu artists actively absorb the ingredients of Chinese philosophy and have credited them with guiding the development of their boxing techniques. This has promoted the philosophization of traditional wushu theory. Traditional wushu has also adopted philosophical terminology in the naming of their techniques and schools. This “getting assistance” or “borrowing” process has contributed further to the framework of wushu philosophy.
The basic contents of traditional wushu philosophy may include several versions: the doctrine of no limitation, the doctrine of Tai-chi, the doctrine of two poles (heaven and earth), the doctrine of yin and yang, the doctrine of softness and hardness, the doctrine of three powers (heaven, earth and human), the doctrine of four phrases (wind, earth, fire, and wood), the doctrine of innate and acquired abilities, the doctrine of a harmonious whole, the doctrine of natural order, the doctrine of spirit and appearance, and the doctrine of practical use. The development of wushu philosophy promotes the perfection of traditional wushu theory and systematizes the skills of traditional wushu.
Traditional wushu is very rich in content. Many ancestors attempted to classify them. In the earlier Warrior Kingdoms period, in the book “Sima Fa,” weapons are classified into long and short. In the Ming dynasty, general Qi Jiguang in his book “Ji Xiao Xin Shu” presents the concepts of long distance and short distance combats. In the early Qing dynasty, Wong He-jee in “Wong Zhengnan Mu Zhi Ming” uses the internal and external boxing classification. In the early period of the Republic of China, the “Chinese Jing Wu Society”‘s document has classification based on districts, such as the school of Yellow river district, the school of Yangtze river district, and the Zhu river district. Liu Zee-tong in “Bei Quan Hui Bian” used the classification of northern and southern schools. These historical classifications effectively explain the regional distribution of wushu schools – enabling a clearer understanding of the special characteristics of various wushu skills. For example, in the classification of long and short weapons in the Warrior Kingdoms period, there were combative tactics that explore long weapons for protection and short weapons for defense. In the Ming dynasty, techniques were developed for using long weapons for short distance combat and short weapons for long distance combat. In a period around the late Ming dynasty and the early Qing dynasty, there was one internal wushu school — a branch passed on by Wang Zhengnan – and an external wushu school that referred to the Shaolin school. But other developments were going on. During the early period of the Republic of China, those skills designed for combat in purpose but also benefiting the building of muscle were broadly called the external school, and those emphasizing calmness in a conflict or combat or those which are based on Daoyin (Chinese style yoga) exercises were broadly classified as the internal school. Traditional wushu has the saying: “The most respected external school shall be Shaolin, and the most respected internal school is Wudang.” For the wushu school classification based on regional districts, information is provided on the distribution of traditional wushu. The distinction between southern and northern schools reflects regional geography and weather. Later on, traditional wushu was classified based on special features of skills. For example, the class of long chuan has the feature of attacking from a distance; the class of short fighting has the special feature of combating in close contact with opponents. Southern chuan skills are specialized in using fists, and northern kick skills are specialized in using feet. The class of “circular and soft” schools are identified by their soft and circular movements.

There are schools whose skills mimic certain animal forms. The class of so-called “di-tang chuan” is specialized in tumbling skills for both attack and defense. Other versions of wushu bear the founder’s family name. Lately, traditional wushu schools and styles have been classified based on their exercising patterns and special features of skills. In terms of exercising patterns, traditional wushu can be classified into “basic physical and mind exercises,” “set routine exercises,” and “combating exercises” categories. When classified based on special features of skills, the basic physical and mind exercises category includes internal work, external (hard) work, soft work, light work and others. The set routine exercises category includes boxing skills, and weapons, with individual practice or dual practice. The combative exercises category includes bare-handed, fighting (free hand operations, push-hand, etc.) and fighting with long or short weapons.
All such classifications provide a convenient way for people to gain a broad understanding of various and different kinds of skills of traditional wushu, to explore the common features and regularity of various skills and principles. By classification, one may understand the real substance of traditional wushu from inside and out.
Traditional wushu has historically emphasized the educational aspect of “wu-de” (virtue of martial art). “Wu-de” refers to “shang-wu chong-de” and is commonly viewed as the behavioral standard for all branches, styles, and schools of traditional wushu. A wushu practitioner nurtures his heart and mind with it and develops his social behavior accordingly, and takes it as the standard to make judgment on goodness or evil. “Shang-wu” is to enjoy wushu, participate in the sport of wushu, to develop one’s mind and body via wushu, study and practice attack and defense skills in order to be strong and brave, to face conflicts with skills, and to continuously improve oneself. “Chong-de” is to have moral standard, respect social and public morals, share responsibility for the public, perform duties of his/her society, in order to be a person who obeys the laws, respects others, is helpful to others who are in need, and becomes a citizen who possesses perfect morals.
“Wu-de” combines “shang-wu” and “chong-de” into one. First, it appears in the use of moral concepts to regulate wushu skills. With moral concepts melded into wushu skills, one obtains the continuous self-improved martial ability but avoids the attitude of angry men, does not use strength to work against weak persons, and shows his/her great virtue to others. On the one hand, one must punish those who are evil and have done injustice to others, and one must be brave and ready to help the needed. On the other hand, one must innovate skills such as grappling and hitting virtual points in order to quickly dissolve the fighting ability of the opponent, to capture the opponent, but not cause undue damage to the opponent.

A wushu practitioner must not only strive to master the skills to control an opponent, but must also learn the skills of curing. It is inhumane to know how to kill but not to save. Furthermore, one must demonstrate the possession not only of great skills but high morality. For example, one should use his/her skills to protect his/her country and to guard the territory of the country. One must even be ready to sacrifice one’s life in order to preserve one’s virtue. Use wushu skills to protect citizens, to get rid of evil persons and capture criminals, and be prepared to give up one’s life if required to remain righteous.
Furthermore, one must regulate one’s daily behavior with moral concepts. For example, in teaching wushu skills, a wushu teacher shall not teach those who lack righteousness, or those who are unkind to others. A wushu teacher may request that students respect teachers and the standard of wushu, to learn and work hard; to treat others with kindness and be humble, honest, and to keep one’s promises; to not put much attention on being popular or becoming rich, as one does not need to be famous; to live a simple life; to not be an alcoholic; and avoid engaging in lewd conduct. Traditional wushu has many sayings passed down from older generations which serve to set the wu-de standard. Here are some of them:
“By reading one’s writing, one can tell the mind of the author; by observing a wushuist’s performance, one shall know his/her moral standard”
“Before one learns an art, one shall learn politeness; before learning wushu, one has to understand morality”
“When a student has possessed great skills, he/she shall not forget the hard work of the teacher”
“One shall not sell his/her skills even if he/she will be paid ten thousand ounces of gold, but one may pass on his/her skills to a dedicated student whom he/she has just met on a crossing street”
“Serious teacher may produce good students; when one respects the way of wushu, one learns the excellent skill”
“A teacher may guide a student to enter the gate of wushu, but the progress will depend on the effort of a student”
“It is easy to learn, but it is hard to practice it”
“Bow one’s head, learn arts from a hundred places”
“Learn from one more teacher, one knows one more skill”
“Demonstrate your wushu skill to others and meet friends in that way”
“If one wants to learn a great skill, it is necessary to work extremely hard”
“As incense of plum flower comes in bitter cold weather, one shall not cease without possessing amazing skills”
“Understand the skill but shall not be restricted by the skill, understand the rules but shall not break the rules”
By emphasizing “wu-de”, one acquires the spirit of “shangwu chongde,” which can be thought of as a miniature of the spirit of the Chinese nation. In sum, since the days of slavery society, through a long development process till the Ming dynasty, Chinese wushu has turned into a martial system different from a military combative one. It has many social benefits: training the functioning of a body, training in attack and defense skills, providing entertainment, etc. It is in the beginning stages of becoming a popular sport.
After the Sino-Japanese war during the Qing dynasty, China equipped its army with automatic weapons, guns and cannons, ending traditional military wushu’s role in the military. Even the long-established governmental examination system for selecting military officers was abolished in 1901 in the Qing dynasty. The diminishing presence of military wushu in the Qing dynasty served to enhance the progress and development of folk wushu into traditional wushu sports. After the nationalist revolution, social leaders promoted traditional wushu because wushu can promote health and can fulfill the function of serving one’s country. Many wushu centers, societies, and folk wushu organizations such as Shanghai Jingwu Sport Society, Tianjin Chinese Warrior Society, Peking Sport Study Group, etc., have been established in big cities. The nationalist government has established the central government wushu center and its branches in many local districts.
Some influential wushuists have adopted western physical education methods, competition regulations, and disciplines to regulate and teach wushu. Some traditional wushu skills are documented. The first Chinese wushu sport meeting of the whole county took place in Shanghai in 1923. Since then, many sporting events have included wushu competition. Traditional wushu now stands in the modern sport competition arena. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, traditional wushu was suppressed for a long time because the principle agenda of the communist party was the ethics of class struggle. This was the result of a wrong policy. Currently, the policy for traditional wushu adopted by the National Wushu Association and the Chinese Wushu Management Committee has been changed. The current policy emphasizes walking on two feet.
While competition wushu is now established, one should not ignore traditional wushu. Not long ago on October 16, 2004, the first international Chinese wushu festival took place in Zhengzhou. Festival organizers adopted an open-minded attitude and abolished many old-fashioned regulations for traditional wushu competitions. Roughly 2000 athletes from all over the world came to demonstrate their skills in the festival. Its scale has broken many records.
There are hundreds of different schools and styles of wushu. Like competition among beautiful flowers, the atmosphere is magnificent and emotional. People have met friends with different skills, studied each other’s skills, and established new friendships and improved on existing ones. One can observe the tremendous magic of traditional wushu, so deeply rooted in the folks over hundreds and thousands years. Culture always benefits when societies interact and accommodate one another. Traditional wushu not only has value for the present but also the future – a future that cannot be measured!
The study of traditional wushu involves many theoretical topics. For example, definitions of traditional wushu concepts, their connotation and denotation, the value system, cultural features, historical connections, styles and schools, ancient and modern weapons, skill principles, teaching and training, practicality, fist and weapon skills and techniques, attack and defense skills and techniques, common knowledge of wushu practicing; its relation to warfare, ethics, regimen, Chinese medicine, aesthetic, breathing techniques (qigong), religions, and other methodologies. These have not yet been mentioned.