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The road to the Olympic Games for Wushu

By Feng Hui (
Updated: 2008-09-26 09:47
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With Kungfu Panda sweeping across the world, Wushu, a traditional Chinese martial art is attracting more and more fans both home and abroad. Although it failed in its bid to be included as a 2008 Olympic event, it still appeared at the Beijing Olympic stadium as a special event.

The road to the Olympic Games for Wushu

The event “Beijing 2008 Wushu Competition” was co-organized by The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), International Wushu Federation (IWF) and Chinese Wushu Association, attracting 128 athletes from 43 countries to compete for 15 gold medals.

The road to the Olympic Games for Wushu

As a sports event, Wushu is developed well in Asia; it has been listed as the event of Asian Games since 1990, but it still has a long way to go for its application as an Olympic event.

With a history of several thousand years in China, Wushu is an important part of Chinese culture. It is enriched by various styles and loved by people from different cultural backgrounds since it as a competitive and healthy sport that plays an important role in nurturing the moral character of youth.

The road to the Olympic Games for Wushu The road to the Olympic Games for Wushu

According to incomplete statistics, there are nearly 200 million people around the world practicing Wushu. Founded in 1990 the International Wushu Federation has members spreading across five continents, nearly 120 countries and regions and it was officially recognized by the International Olympic committee in 2002. The international Wushu tournament has been held six times biennially by the IWF since 1991.

 The road to the Olympic Games for Wushu

If a sport wants to be the Olympic event it must apply to the International Olympic Committee 7 years ahead. To meet the standards of application the sport should have associations in at least 75 countries or regions, offering fair rules for competition and judgment and without sexual discrimination, which just coincide with Wushu’s characteristics. But the standards also set requirements for the coverage area of TV live broadcast, the ticket revenue and the sponsors. Further, the International Olympic Committee is simplifying the Olympic events; the London Olympic events have been reduced from 28 to 26.

The road to the Olympic Games for Wushu The road to the Olympic Games for Wushu

Actually, Wushu is just a general name for 130 schools of boxing and other styles of martial art. Since different school has different competitive rules it is hard to judge in terms of quantized standards.

Also at present, Wushu isn’t very popular in most countries and regions. More specifically Wushu is an indefinite notion in China, which not only includes competitive ideas but also the traditional elements such as Confucianism, philosophy and health preservation. Most foreigners have no idea about Wushu; they just unconsciously relate it with the Kungfu stars Bruce Lee and Jacky Chan, but actually Wushu is not just fighting. Due to the rarity of books about Wushu, it is usually taught by word and deed and costs a couple of years to train the basic movements, which easily make the students give up halfway.

All of these make Wushu a tough task for application.

Maybe we should learn from Tae kwon Do (kickboxing) which ranked as Olympic event in 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. After 1996 Asian Olympic Games, the Republic of Korea began to promote Tae Kwon Do to the world by the means of free teaching. Now, there are about 100000 Korean coaches around the world. To popularize this national event, Tea Kwon Do was listed as a compulsory course from primary school to University. If a student won the national champion, he or she can even enter the college without the entrance examination.

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