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Style   ::   Wushu

Wushu, the national sport of China, mainly pays attention to both internal and external exercises, with fighting movements as its main contents and with routine exercises and free combat as its forms.

During the Republic of China (1912-1949) there came many distinguished Wushu organizations in form of pugilistic societies, such as the Martial Arts Society and the Physical Culture Society. The Jingwu Sports Association was started in Shanghai in 1910 by the legendary Huo Yuan Jia; this was followed by the setting up of the Chinese Martial Arts Society and the Zhirou Pugilistic Society. These three Wushu parties played and important role in the spreading and developing of this treasured art.

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, Wushu has become a component of the socialist culture and the people's physical education and sports, and developed spectacularly. Wushu was also listed as a formal course in local sports institutes and physical educational departments. In 1956, the Chinese Wushu Association was formally set up in Beijing, and so Wushu became an official competition event. Then, in 1958, the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission compiled the first draft of Wushu Competition Rules.

Routine exercises were also standardized, and included Simplified Taijiquan, Changquan (Long-Fist), Daoshu (Broadsword play), Jianshu (Straightsword play), Qiangshu (Spear play), and Gunshu (Cudgel play). These six routines were categorized into first-class, intermediate-class, and primary level, which helped in the popularity and promotion of Wushu.

With the guidance of the Chinese State Physical Culture and Sports Commission and the Chinese Wushu Association, all schools made Wushu part of their physical educational program. Wushu teams and clubs were also set up in colleges and universities across China. In 1984, the State Council set up a Masters Degree in Wushu; and in 1986, the Chinese government gave approval to the Chinese Wushu Research Institute as the high standard body for the conduction of academic and technical researches on Wushu.

During the 1960s to 1970s, central and local governments sent Wushu delegations, teams, instructors, and experts to go abroad to give performances and lectures. These lectures and performances created such an interest in other countries, that official Wushu tournaments were eventually started and the birth of the International Wushu Federation (IWUF) was underway.

In the First International Wushu Invitational Tournament held in Xian in 1985, the preparatory committee for the International Wushu Federation (IWUF) was formed. This was followed in 1986 with the Second International Wushu Invitational Tournament held in Tianjin. In 1987, the First Asian Wushu Championships was held in Yokohama, Japan, and the Wushu Federation of Asia was established.

Finally, in 1990 with the birth of the International Wushu Federation, the XI Asian Games were held in Beijing and Wushu was officially introduced as a competition event. Wushu teams from 11 countries and regions participated in this competition. Now, with the 2008 Olympics being held in Beijing, China, one has to wonder if Wushu will, in fact, become an official Olympic event.