What is wushu ?


Wushu (武术, wǔshù) is an exhibition and full-contact sport derived from traditional Chinese martial arts. The term wushu is a combinations of two Chinese characters: wu (武) = military or martial, and shu (术) = art. Wushu is also known through the more general yet inaccurate term of kungfu or gongfu (功夫,  gōngfu) which is a combination of gong (功) = work or achievement, and fu (夫) = man, together translated as work and time spent; this is to describe anything that one has to dedicate time, effort, and energy to accomplish, often being exactly the practice of martial arts. It is important to realize that Wushu is both a martial practice for self-defense, with each movement having applications in real life scenarios, but also healthy, both physically and mentally; through practice, one learns discipline and develops a clear mind. 

Wushu was developed in China after 1949, in an effort to standardize the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts and has since been evolving its two disciplines: taolu (套路, forms) and sanda (散打, sparring). Taolu consists of two main fist styles: changquan (長拳, long fist) and nanquan (南拳, southern fist).


Changquan is the most common style in competitions, influenced by traditional northern styles, such as Shaolinquan and Huaquan, and focused on speed, power, accuracy, and flexibility. Nanquan, on the other hand, is a style focused on vigorous, athletic movements with very stable, low stances, inspired by southern styles, mainly Hung Gar, Choy Li Fut, and Wing Chun. Furthermore, there are multiple weapons practiced, such as the double-edged sword (剑, jian), the single-edged sword (刀, dao) or the staff (棍, gun). 


Ying De Men teaching focuses on taolu, both northern and southern styles. A new student typically spends the first few months learning basic kicks and movements along with Wu Bu Quan, the 5 stances form. After these have been practiced to an adequate level, the elementary changquan routine 3 is taught, involving more advanced moves which consequently require higher accuracy and stamina. Once it reaches a good level, one is free to choose a particular style to focus on (northern or southern) and hence learn more advanced movements and forms along with a weapon suitable to the particular style. Students are encouraged to perform their best and to participate in the yearly competitions hosted in the Netherlands.  


Training sessions are 2 hours long and usually consist of 10min warm-up and 20min dynamic stretching followed by basic kicks and movements, form learning/practicing, and lastly 10min static stretching.