Contemporary wushu

Wushu (term)

This article is specifically about the word "Wushu". For the modern exhibition sport, see Wushu (sport). For information about all Chinese martial arts, see Chinese martial arts.
Wushu (; Cantonese: móuh-seuht) literally means "martial art". It is a more precise term than the widely used term kung fu, which can mean either martial art or "skill": a craftsperson or artisan could be said to have good "kung fu" in the way in which they carry out their craft; in the same way, a wushu practitioner can also be said to have good "kung fu" in their wushu practice. In the broadest sense, the word wushu may refer to any martial art in the world, though in practice it often refers to the modern sport named "wushu" (see wushu (sport); also known as "modern wushu" or "contemporary wushu"), or the various styles of Chinese martial arts.


The term wushu consists of two Chinese characters. (wǔ), meaning, martial or military, and (shù), which translates into discipline, skill or method. Together these form "wǔshù" meaning 'Art of fighting' but translated as "martial art".

The term appeared in a Southern Song Dynasty poem by Yán Yánzhī (384-456 CE): "偃閉武術,闡揚文令。庶士傾風,萬流仰鏡。" The text means "Abolish wushu, promote literature. Be respected and admired by the masses." In this context, wushu may refer to "military affairs". The term later appeared in a poem by Lǐ Yú in the Ming Dynasty (1610-1680): "自幼好武術。" This translates to "Liking wushu since childhood."

Contemporary Wushu

The word wushu literally and traditionally refers to the martial arts in general. However, there has been a recent shift in its meaning due to the creation of the modern exhibition sport entitled "wushu". The sport was created by the People's Republic of China and is derived from the various forms of traditional Chinese martial arts.

Traditional Wushu

Traditional wushu refers to the multitude of Chinese martial arts which existed before the competitive forms of Wushu established in the modern era.

See also

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