Chinese Kungfu and Wushu (Martial Arts)

Wushu is the Chinese word for all forms of traditional Chinese martial arts. Wushu is characterized by its dynamic and fluid motions. It can be practiced with bare hands, or with an assortment of weaponry. Originally created for military applications, it has, over thousands of years, grown into a sport, and performance art. In China, it is the most popular national sport. It is practiced by young and old alike. Its emphasis has shifted from combat to competition and is practiced for self-defense, mental discipline, and health benefits.

Wushu of ChinaWushu of China

The Chinese characters for Wushu are a combination of two characters. Wu means 'martial' and Shu means 'art'. The character Wu is composed of two characters Zhi meaning 'do not', and Ge meaning 'fight'. So combined, the word Wushu actually means the "Art of Not Fighting". It is a philosophy of life. It is designed for defense and no offense. It is a way to bring your mind, and body into focus. There are many different forms of Chinese Wushu. The two most famous are Shaolin Boxing and Tai Chi.  Visitors to China can see many people practicing Tai Chi in the open areas, either parks or city squares, like the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. If you take a Yangtze River Cruise, you can also join in the morning Tai Chi exercises.

Shaolin Boxing

Shaolin Boxing is one of China's most famous styles of Wushu. One of China's most famous actors Jet Li has brought this style of Wushu to the world through his movies. Shaolin Boxing originated at the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, Henan Province of central China. The Shaolin Temple once housed many monks. Most of the lower-level monks came from secular society, and many of them knew martial arts. Those who had studied martial arts taught it to each other, and through a gradual combination of many different styles of Wushu, the unique school of Shaolin Boxing was born. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Wushu was taught to all Shaolin monks. Before this time, the Shaolin monks all fought with cudgels, but during the middle of the Ming Dynasty switched to bare-handed fighting. In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), people living outside the temple began learning Shaolin Boxing, which helped spread this particular style of Wushu throughout the country. The Shaolin Boxing style of Wushu has become one of China's most famous schools of martial arts. Nowadays, visitors from around the world can visit the Shaolin Temple and watch Shaolin Boxing being taught in person, and take a few classes if they wish.

Shaolin Boxing ShowShaolin Boxing Show

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is another form of traditional Chinese Wushu that has recently become popular throughout the world. The word Tai Chi first appeared during the Zhou Dynasty (1122-256 BC). The Wushu form of Tai Chi is believed to have originated during the Song (961-1279 AD), or Liang (502-557 AD) Dynasties in today's Henan Province. All Tai Chi forms require that their practitioners are tranquil but concentrative, and breathe smoothly. The movements are executed slowly and gracefully, yet hint at a hidden power. According to Chinese Traditional Medicine, Tai Chi is good for practitioners' health and good at curing diseases. It creates peace within the body, mind, and spirit. It is a Chinese philosophical thought embodied in physical action.

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