If you fancy the cool moves of action stars Jet Li and Jackie Chan, then wushu is the sport to pick up. With various disciplines to choose from, wushu is suitable for people of all ages, both young and old.
What is wushu?
Wushu is the general term for the various disciplines of Chinese martial arts, encompassing both contact and non-contact sports. Comprising of a system of fighting techniques, wushu is a dynamic sport that demands a lot of strength, flexibility, endurance and coordination. Depending on your interest and capability, wushu can take the form of both routine exercise and free sparring.
There are two major categories to wushu – traditional and competition wushu. The former lays the foundation for the development of competition wushu, which focuses more on outstanding movements. While both are regarded as separate entities, they share similar principles and styles. There are various forms of wushu, ranging from barehanded styles to those using weapons such as staffs, swords and spears.
Origins of wushu
Developed over 2,500 years ago, wushu was both a means of staying healthy and a fighting style used for survival throughout the tumultuous years in ancient China. Mimicking the movements of animals, wushu soon evolved to a style that managed to serve its function while retaining an aesthetic beauty. These days, modern wushu includes various disciplines such as tai chi and kung fu.
I want to be a wushu expert
Like most types of sports and exercise, practicing wushu regularly has positive effects on ones strength, agility and flexibility. Apart from health benefits, wushu practitioners are also equipped with the skills for both attacking and defending – useful when it comes to the art of self-defence.
Wushu classes are available in most community centres or associations and beginners are most welcome to join. “In our foundation programme, students are taught the basic techniques and movements of wushu,” says Richard Ang, manager with the Singapore National Wushu Federation.
“Once they are more comfortable with the pace and have mastered these moves, they then move on to weapons like spears, swords or staffs.”
What skills do I need?
While wushu is suitable for people of all ages, it is important to gauge your level of fitness as well as flexibility before embarking on classes.
Adults in their mid twenties and older are usually advised to pick up traditional wushu, says Richard, as the movements practiced are slower. Younger students tend to pick up competitive wushu as it comprises a mix of aerobic and gymnastics movements.
If you are an absolute beginner without any prior knowledge of martial arts, don’t worry because the most important qualities any wushu enthusiast need are a passion for the sport and discipline.
“Passion is important,” says Richard. “Learning wushu without passion is pointless as you simply cannot achieve a high performance level.”
Where do I sign up?
If you’re keen on trying your hand at wushu, head down to the Singapore National Wushu Dragon & Lion Dance Federation. There, you can learn more about the various disciplines of wushu and find a style that best suits you.
Singapore National Wushu Dragon & Lion Dance Federation is located at 50 Serangoon Avenue 2, #04-01 Tel 6382 3638 or log on to www.wuzong.com.