Historians are unsure about the origins of Chinese wushu. It may have developed from a wide variety of ancient Chinese martial arts dating back to 3000 BC.
Performances include the use of bare hands, swords and broad swords, spears and cudgels that create a platform for a spectacular choreography of movements, combining graceful acrobatic moves with gymnastic routines.
Wushu is closely associated with Chinese culture and philosophy. Real kungfu masters are expected to be knowledgeable about traditional Chinese medicine, Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.
Today, wushu has evolved as a serious sport that stresses perfection and self-discipline.
In his authoritative book History of Chinese Wushu, scholar Xi Yuntai claims there are at least 129 remaining wushu styles, including both bare-fist wushu styles and styles with weapons.
Wushu comprises two major disciplines: taolu (routines) and sanshou (combat). The competitive routines are based on many different techniques and movements.
Over the past few decades, action-movie stars Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li have made wushu popular around the world.
The combination of competitiveness and values has lent wushu a universal appeal. Now it is widely practiced by people of diverse cultural backgrounds.
The International Wushu Federation was set up in 1990, and four years later it was recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
So far, however, wushu has not been included as one of the official sports for the Olympic Games.
(China Daily 05/07/2008 page18)