1st Taolu World Cup
From November 15th to November 20th, 2016, the 1st Taolu World Cup will take place in Fuzhou, China. As the name of the competition suggests, it is the first ever edition of this new competition, and is being organized by the IWuF (International Wushu Federation). For those that are unfamiliar with the term Taolu, the Chinese word tàolù (套路) signifies the practice of forms and sequences in Chinese martial arts, which has long been the popular image of Wushu, or Chinese martial arts. In the sport of modern Wushu, also known as sport or contemporary Wushu, a standardization of Chinese martial arts for sport, Taolu refers to the practice of forms which are standardized from various traditional Chinese martial arts styles, and trained for performance and exhibition purposes based on a certain set of competition rules and standards. Originally, modern Wushu’s sole competition category as a sport was only Taolu, then simply called “Wushu”, until the introduction and standardization of Sanshou (散手； sànshǒu, free hand), also known as Sanda (散打； sàndǎ, free fighting), which is the practice of full-contact sparring and fighting, in the ’80s; today, the sport of modern Wushu is divided into these two competition categories of Taolu and Sanda.
According to the competition regulations, (which can be found at: http://www.iwuf.org/upload/2016/0721/12591c9fc43946f7b752c42e4b8901fa9edeb4eb.pdf), the qualifications for the competition are, “The top 8 placed athletes from the 13th World Wushu Championships” in the listed Taolu competition events for said competition. This qualification process makes it structurally similar to the National Wushu Taolu Elite Competition (全国武术套路精英赛； quánguówǔshùtàolùjīngyīngsài) in China, which was dubbed the “Top 8” competition by Mark Moran’s blog, formerly known as Wushuzilla.com, now Wushuadventures.com, for this very reason. In a way, the term “elite” seems appropriate, because these kinds of competitions theoretically pit the best of the best against each other in competition. One interesting feature of these competitions is the implementation of cash prizes for the top 3 winners in each individual competition event, increasing the incentive of athletes and competitors to win.
It is also interesting to note that this competition seems to be following the example of the Sanda World Cup, the latest (8th) edition of which was held in Xi’an, China from November 4th to November 6th, 2016. On an international level, officially sanctioned modern Wushu competitions customarily host both the Taolu and Sanda competition events alongside each other, making this the first explicit effort by the IWuF to internationally promote these competition events separately (at least since the inception of Sanda). The 8th Sanda World Cup was also streamed at Worldwushu.tv, the new streaming site of the IWuF that has recently been streaming world level Wushu competition events since the previous 13th World Wushu Championships last year. It remains to be seen whether or not the Taolu World Cup will receive the same treatment.
On her thoughts for the competition, Canadian Wushu Team member and Pan American Champion Wei-Jen Lee says, “Training for the competition is tough. I train alone without a coach…I train everyday…I’m also teaching [every day] for about 3-5 hours…[By] the end of the day I’m pretty dead. [H]aha.” US Wushu Team member and also Pan American Champion Stephanie Lim hopes to top her performances from the 13th World Wushu Championships, stating, “A personal best would make me extremely happy.” Both athletes had started GoFundMe campaigns online to gather money for their travel expenses. It will be interesting to see the journey that top Wushu athletes like these go through and where it will take them, as the sport continues to develop and grow with more competition opportunities like these. For those that are interested in this new competition, keep your eyes out for any coverage of the event!