In my very first blog post I talk about the meaning of Wu Shu but explain that the term is meant to represent modern or exhibition Wu-Shu. So what happened in the History of Chinese martial arts to force a change in chinese martial arts? Why modern Wu-Shu and Traditional. Well below is a great article short and sweet about Wu-Shu and its beginnings.
The below article is courtesy of Al Case at FreeMartialArtsOnline.com
The Sad Tale of Wu Shu and the People’s Republic of China
Are You Learning this Tragic Wu Shu!
To learn Wu Shu is the same as learning Jujitsu from Barack Obama. Or maybe Goju Ryu Karate from William Jefferson Clinton. Or, maybe…Kung Fu as taught by Nancy Pelosi!
You may think I am having a little fun with you, but there is a dark underbelly to all this. When the government decides to take over a business, you see, it tends to destroy, corrupt and confound that business. And I am talking any government, and any business, and specifically the martial arts
Kung Fu, for instance, thousands of years old, has been spreading long life, health, good physical conditioning, and some of the best darned self-defense in the world. Then along came Chairman Mao, and the death of Kung Fu was at hand. The vehicle used for the destruction of the one of the greatest arts the world has ever known was called The Cultural Revolution.
During the Cultural Revolution Mao decided to kill off elements of society that he deemed dangerous, or corruptive, or whatever. Thus, the population was carted off wholesale and killed, 70,000,000 of them. If you were intelligent, talented, or stood out in any manner, you were dead.
If you were a school teacher, wore corrective lenses, or had written a book, you were dead. If you spoke against communism or played the violin, you were dead. If you knew Kung Fu, you were dead.
Once the Revolution had run its course, the country began to rebuild, in the image of Mao. Funny thing, as China tried to catch up with a world that was still possessed of talent and intelligence, it discovered that there was a lot of interest in this thing called Kung Fu. Unfortunately, they had a problem, as they had killed off Kung Fu.
So, what does a government do when it has killed a martial art, and then found that it needs it? Simple, you hire a few coaches and have them make up some stuff. So they hired a bunch of coaches, the ones who hadn’t known enough Kung Fu to be killed off during the revolution, read any manuals that survived the book burnings, and make up some martial arts all on their own, and they called it Wu Shu.
They were particularly intent on making sure that the Kung Fu didn’t have anything harmful in it. You don’t want people able to actually do the thing for self defense. Heck, you don’t want them having a real Great Revolution!
This article is courtesy of Al Case at FreeMartialArtsOnline.com
With that said I want to make it clear that I still have an appreciation for Wu-Shu. I don't personally believe they totally killed Kung Fu in China but severely diminished the amount of qualified teachers. Modern Wu-Shu in my opinion focuses more on the artistic side of martial arts than on the martial. This is evident in the short clip below where you can clearly see a 2 man sparring set done for performance. When it comes to acrobatics they are king.
Today the term Kung-Fu is used to represent Chinese martial arts. The term WuShu today is commonly used to represent the martial exhibition and full-contact sport. While exhibition Wushu is derived from Traditional martial arts it focuses more on exhibition and usually appears to be very acrobatic. So lets look at what the words really mean.
Wu- martial arts
Shu- Technique or skill
Combined it means to be a disciplined person with technique or skill in martial arts. It is a term which represents all the martial arts styles in China. Martial arts have been practiced in China for thousands of years and Kung Fu consist of thousands of different external and internal styles. Commonly written as Kung Fu, it may also be written as Gung Fu, or gōngfu in pinyin.
"Perfection is sometimes found in imperfection"