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“Traditional” In Modern Wushu

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“Traditional” In Modern Wushu: Clarifying the Distinction

Written June 12th, 2014

‘There should be a good relationship between traditional and modern wushu. They should have more interchange. This could lengthen the competitive life of modern wushu. It could increase development and provide more room to grow. You need two legs to walk: one is modern wushu, one is traditional. You cannot give up one of them.’ — Zhao Changjun, Kung Fu Magazine “Where Wushu Went Wrong”

The term “traditional” has a history being misused in Wushu circles.  Many Wushu practitioners will ask each other, “What do you do for your traditional?” or “What traditional form do you know?”  Consequently, the use of word “traditional” has been misconstrued and misunderstood by practitioners of Wushu who are unaware of its original context.  By “Wushu”, I am specifically referring to modern Wushu, a standardization of Chinese martial arts for sport and competitive purposes.  Modern Wushu is divided into two disciplines; Taolu (套路; tàolù, forms), and Sanshou (散手; sànshǒu, free hand), also known as Sanda (散打; sàndǎ, free fighting).  Because of the specific subject matter here, which is based on the practice of specific “styles” and their routines, I will exclusively be talking about the practice of Taolu, and its place and practice in modern Wushu.  But modern Wushu is just one of many facets of traditional Chinese martial arts, the real “traditional” Wushu.

First, let’s discuss the idea of “traditional” and its formal definition.  In modern Wushu, the “traditional” label has been used in Taolu competitions to designate forms events that do not fall under the sport’s primary competition events.  These miscellaneous forms events are more accurately categorized as “open hand” and “open weapon” forms.  The original and historical context of the term “traditional” in Wushu refers to the original Chinese martial arts styles that have been developed throughout China’s history.  My main definition of modern Wushu, as I have defined it many times in the past, is that modern Wushu is an interpretation of Chinese martial arts, as it was standardized from traditional Chinese martial arts.  I also maintain that modern Wushu still comes from traditional Chinese martial arts due to its standardization and development out of it, and therefore can and should retain at least some of the depth and authenticity of its traditional counterpart.  Previously, in the write-up “Putting the ‘Shu’ Back In Wushu: The Art in the Sport Martial Art”, I said that this could be done by emphasizing the connection of martial arts movements and ideas that can be shared through modern Wushu’s derivation of traditional Chinese martial arts, but I did not elaborate.  Also, in the recent write-up “Chinese Wushu (Martial Arts) Champion America Tour: A Personal Account”, I expressed mixed feelings about the way modern Wushu athletes performed and represented “traditional” styles, which I attempt to further explain here.  In this write-up, I will attempt to address the current practice of “traditional” in modern Wushu, its benefits and shortcomings, as well as talk about how it can be improved.

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In the way that modern Wushu practitioners use the word, the idea of “traditional” is just another form to learn, either for competition or for general performance.  As is true with all Taolu events of modern Wushu, these “traditional” forms events in modern Wushu were created based on the study and standardization of real traditional Chinese martial arts forms.  In terms of content, modern Wushu is clearly not the on the same level as traditional Chinese martial arts, what people have referred to as “kungfu”, or “gongfu” (功夫; gōng​fu)  in Chinese.  Although “gōng​fu” actually means “skill”, and Wushu is the more literal and accurate term for Chinese martial arts, “gōng​fu” has been used by traditional Wushu practitioners, dubbed “traditionalists”, to distinguish it from the term “Wushu”, which generally designates modern Wushu.  This is because most traditionalists have a common consensus that modern Wushu is a misrepresentation of Chinese martial arts.  By contrast, the practice of “gongfu” can be said focus more on inner development and self-defense.  While the traditionalists are in some ways right, I still maintain that modern Wushu still comes from traditional Chinese martial arts due to its standardization and development out of it, and therefore can and should retain at least some of the depth and authenticity of its traditional counterpart.

In my first write-up, “A Statement about Wushu”, I tried to address many misconceptions and criticisms that modern Wushu as had, as well as critique the then-current state of the sport.  I also specifically defended modern Wushu’s practice against the criticism of traditionalists that said modern Wushu was an inauthentic form of martial arts.  Although my perspective has been changed somewhat by my training experience in the past few years, most of my argumentative position still remains the same.  As stated before, modern Wushu was standardized from traditional Chinese martial arts.  Specifically, the discipline of Taolu and all of its competition styles takes all of its basic movements and techniques from real traditional Chinese martial arts styles.  The most prominent examples of this are the three primary competition styles of modern Wushu; Changquan (长拳; chángquán, Long Fist), Nanquan (南拳; nánquán, Southern Fist), and Taijiquan (太极拳; tàijíquán, Grand Ultimate Fist).  Changquan takes its movements from the traditional northern styles of Chaquan (查拳; cháquán), Huaquan (華拳; huáquán; Flower Fist), and Hongquan (紅拳; hóngquán; Red Fist).  Nanquan was based off of Hung Gar (洪家; hóngjiā) Choy Gar (蔡家; Càijiā, Cai Family), Lei Gar (李家; Lǐjiā, Li Family), Lau Gar (刘家; Liújiā, Liu Family), and Mok Gar (莫家; Mòjiā, Mo Family) and Choy Li Fut (蔡李佛; càilǐfó).  Modern Wushu Taijiquan was in turn based off of the five recognized traditional Taiji styles of Chen (陈; Chén), Yang (杨; Yáng), Sun (孙; Sūn), Wu (吳; Wú), and Hao (郝; Hǎo, also known as 武; Wǔ).  And the influence of these root traditional styles is apparent, if one takes the time to look.  The practice and inclusion of these movements show that modern Wushu Taolu is not just a meaningless modern form of martial arts; they clearly have their roots in the traditional Chinese martial arts that can’t be disputed or denied.

The compilation of these traditional styles into singular, standard ones came out of a need to represent Chinese martial arts in sport and performance, hence the creation of modern Wushu.  Historically, hundreds of traditional styles of Chinese martial arts have been documented.  While this attests to the vastness and variety of Chinese martial arts, it provides a problem for a common representation in sport and performance.  With so many styles and methods, it was virtually impossible for the various Chinese martial arts to be held to each other’s expectations and standards when it came to competition and sharing a common image of Chinese Wushu to the general audience.  For this purpose, many traditional Chinese martial artists underwent the project that would become modern Wushu.

Yet the majority of traditionalists look down on modern Wushu, especially Taolu, mainly because of the fact that it is trained primarily for competition and performance, and not for the more traditional combat purpose.  But ironically, appearance has always been important in performances for traditional Wushu as well.  Many traditional schools have been known to augment the so-called principles of their movements for competition and performance purposes.  If anything, this observation only adds to the performance value that modern Wushu Taolu has; after all, modern Wushu Taolu was designed specifically for competition and performance.

But part of being able to truly appreciate modern Wushu as a sport and competition item is being able to understanding that it is not the same as traditional Wushu, for one simple reason: it was not supposed to be.  It was never designed to be traditional, and it never can be traditional.  Although it is not perfect, like many other sports, modern Wushu does its job under its original parameters; Taolu is reserved for the performance of forms at specific standards that are set for competition.  And in competition, the judges don’t care whether or not a specific technique is a strike, block or throw in the traditional context; they care about whether or not the performance meets the standards of competition.  Acknowledging that modern Wushu was designed only to fit within these kinds of competition parameters is the first step to understanding its place as a standardized representation and interpretation of Chinese martial arts.  This is why I can enjoy modern Wushu from a spectator standpoint.  Even though I know that modern Wushu Taijiquan is not the same as traditional Taijiquan, I can still look at a modern Wushu Taijiquan performance, like that of Wu Yanan’s, and enjoy it at the same time.  Modern Wushu, while not the same as traditional Chinese martial arts, can still be great in its own right.

However, this does not mean that modern Wushu and its relationship with traditional Wushu cannot be improved upon.  In many ways, this competitive and performance-based representation of real Chinese martial arts styles has brought about many good things for the promotion of Chinese martial arts, but it has also brought with it some bad things about Wushu, as traditionalists have observed.  Although I am somewhat content with the way that the three main competition styles are structured on their own, I have mixed feelings about the way that the open hand and weapon categories, and the traditional Wushu styles that they represent, are treated by modern Wushu practitioners.  Again, one of the sad observations of modern Wushu is that many modern Wushu athletes equate the idea of learning a “traditional” or open hand/weapon form to knowing all, or at least enough, about the style that it came from.  This is one of the problems of modern Wushu; although modern Wushu came from traditional Chinese martial arts, most of these modern interpretations of traditional styles are very limited.  I once heard a so-called senior of my Wushu school say that “Bagua is just all about circles.”  Really?  Who says?  That’s just like saying that Tongbei is all about “slapping like a step dance”, or that Fanzi is all about “Wing Chun style punching.”  By limiting the understanding of a “traditional” style to just a single kind of practice and performance of a form at face value, the real martial arts content and knowledge of these Chinese martial arts becomes lost in modern Wushu, and this is where one of the many shortcomings in modern Wushu lies.  The true practice and training of traditional Wushu is more than just about learning the forms.

Perhaps the biggest gripe that traditionalists have with modern Wushu Taolu performances of “traditional” routines is that these performances demonstrate little to no understanding of the original styles’ or their original martial arts principles.  And after having experienced traditional Wushu training for myself, I can actually understand where they are coming from.  Many of the open hand and open weapon performances can be said to have been embroidered with the fast and flowing flavor of modern Wushu Changquan.  This makes sense, as the majority of modern Wushu athletes were trained in modern Wushu Changquan.  By contrast, the original traditional forms, as they are trained without the purpose of performance, carry no such embellishments.  Instead, every technique has a specific meaning, either in combat or in physical conditioning, that pertains to that specific style; no movement is exaggerated or overextended in the modern Wushu Changquan style just to look good only for appearance’s sake.

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One of these popular examples of a Wushu style being shared by both modern and traditional Wushu is Fanziquan (翻子拳; fānziquán, tumbling or “rotating” fist, literally “turning/flipping fist”).  Modern Wushu Fanziquan traces its lineage directly back to the traditional Wushu system of Ma Style Tongbei (马氏通备; Mǎshìtōngbèi, not to be confused with the traditional Wushu style 通背拳; tōngbèiquán, literally “through-the-back” fist).  Unlike modern Wushu Fanziquan, which has just been relegated to competition forms, the original Ma Style Tongbei Fanziquan can be said to be a complete style of martial arts, which has its own set of basics, conditioning exercises, and martial applications.  Modern Wushu Taolu, which again, is only restricted to the forms practice, lacks all these different traditional practices.  In the Kung Fu Magazine article “The Chinese Samurai Sword” by Gene Ching and Gigi Oh, which features Piguazhang (劈挂掌; pīguàzhǎng, literally “chop-hanging palm”) master Wang Zhihai, Wang is quoted as saying, “‘Modern fanzi skips the traditional conditioning.  This is where it fails.’”  This subsequent lack of depth of traditional practice is the main pitfall of modern Wushu as a martial arts system.  The Kung Fu Magazine article “Modern Fanziquan” by Emilio Alpanseque observes that Fanziquan “has not seen appreciable changes in shape or emphasis.”  For instance, traditional Fanziquan, while very mobile and beautiful, remains solidly grounded like Western boxing.  By contrast, modern Wushu Fanziquan, especially the way it is performed nowadays, can be said to be little more than a “look-how-fast-I-can-punch” fest.  Like Fanziquan, many other traditional Wushu styles are treated like modern Wushu; the original principles of the style being performed are oftentimes ignored just for the sake of enhancing the performance itself.  Most recently, the inclusion of nandu (难度; nándù, difficulty movements) has been seen in these “traditional” performances, which is purely an invention from modern Wushu.  These kinds of changes in modern Wushu athletes’ interpretations of the traditional styles are what are particularly troublesome in the eyes of Wushu martial artists who value how traditional is represented.  Some exceptions are events I consider not to be affiliated to a specific style, such as open weapon events like double broadsword, double straight sword, and chain whip.  However, events that are standardized from specific styles, such as that of Bajiquan (八极拳; bājíquán, Eight Extremes Fist), Baguazhang (八卦掌; bā​guà​zhǎng, Eight Trigrams Palm) and Xingyiquan (形意拳; xíng​yì​quán, literally “shape-will fist”), are more of a subject of this debate.  While I find this kind of change to be tolerable for the primary competition events of modern Wushu Taolu, which are geared specifically for performance, I consider traditional Wushu to be another matter.

Unlike modern Wushu, where competitive Taolu is trained specifically for competition and performance goals, and Sanshou is trained only in the full-contact freestyle environment with little to no consideration of styles, traditional Wushu styles can be said to have a much more complete spectrum of practice.  Traditional Wushu is not just about learning the forms and sparring.  Other skill sets trained in traditional Wushu styles are combat sensitivity drills that relate directly to the application of techniques from forms, as well as long weapon (长兵; chángbīng, literally long weapon) and short weapon (短兵; duǎnbīng, literally short weapon) fighting, all of which were not standardized in modern Wushu.  There is a complete martial arts culture in traditional Wushu.

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At the risk of sounding condescending, I would like to cite my own training experience as an example.  I have had the opportunity to learn Chen Style Taijiquan, one of the base styles of modern Wushu Taijiquan.  Although I am by no means an expert in Chen Style Taijiquan, my short time training in it has opened my eyes to the depth and knowledge that traditional Chinese martial arts has to offer.  In forms, virtually every movement has a martial application.  In additional forms, there is the practice of combat drills, all of which relate back to traditional techniques in one way or another.  One example of this is the practice of push hands (推手; tuī​shǒu), which at the beginner level works its way from preset drills to Sanshou style exercises at an advanced level (it is interesting to note that the term Sanshou originally means freestyle sparring in Chinese martial arts, and was an idea that existed long before its modern Wushu version).  Push hands is an especially famous two-man exercise within Taiji, but is also present in traditional Baguazhang and Xingyiquan.  Furthermore, my formal instructor in Chen Style Taiji, who is the head coach of my Wushu school, my first modern Wushu coach as well as my Sanshou coach, has made a point of differentiating traditional Chen Style Taiji from the style of modern Wushu.  It should be noted that this man is experienced and capable in both areas of modern and traditional Wushu, yet still stresses that there is a difference between the way the two should be interpreted and practiced.  There has always been a clear difference in practice between modern and traditional Wushu.  However, this does not mean there isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a relationship between modern and traditional.  The main problem here is that because there is such a lack of understanding and connection between modern and traditional Wushu today, traditional Wushu is being watered down in the practice of modern Wushu.  But there have been movements to try to address this.

Recently, the CWA (Chinese Wushu Association) has implemented a new duanwei (段位; duànwèi, formal ranking system) system to standardize traditional Wushu style, similar to the dan ranking system in formal Japanese and Korean martial arts systems.  These include standard curriculums for modern Wushu styles like Changquan and their apparatus forms, as well as the recognized styles of traditional Taijiquan, Shaolinquan (少林拳; Shào​línquán, Shaolin Fist), Fanziquan, and even Wing Chun (永春; Yǒngchūn, literally “eternal spring”).  For each standardized style, the duanwei systems include a package of textbooks and DVDs complete with the breaking down of basic postures, stances, techniques, solo routines, and even duilian (对练; duìliàn, choreographed fight sets), which in modern Wushu is a Taolu event that is only trained for competition and performance.  These DVDs also include top Chinese Wushu athletes and champions, including members of the prestigious Beijing Wushu Team, who serve as models for the basics, routines, and duilian.  These standardized traditional Wushu styles also appear to have been formulated from legitimate lineages as well.  For example, the Fanziquan duanwei was formulated in part by Bai Wenxiang, a Wushu grandmaster who has studied Ma Style Tongbei, the source of modern Wushu Fanziquan.  As the Kung Fu Magazine Article “Making the Grade” by Gene Ching states, this direction by the CWA is interesting, particularly the inclusion of Wing Chun after its rise in popularity with Bruce Lee and the Ip Man movies.  Nonetheless, this shows that the CWA is trying to bridge the gap between modern and traditional Wushu, and strengthen the relationship between the two.

Another move on the CWA’s part is to emphasize more traditional Wushu today in competition as well.  They have already implemented the compulsory movement combinations (规定动作组合; guīdìngdòngzuòzǔhé) in their national Taolu competitions, as well as the 3rd Set of International Compulsory (规定; guīdìng) Routines, both of which clearly demonstrate a shifting trend towards traditional Wushu movements.  In addition to these integrations, Wushu professor Wang Peikun, who was featured in the “The Southern Sword of Wushu”, said, “‘we are looking at requiring athletes to compete in traditional events in order to qualify to compete in modern ones.’”  It is interesting to note that there are already traditional Chinese martial arts competitions and events in existence, namely the Taiwanese Kuoshu events, where many traditional Chinese martial arts schools come together to compete.  However, I have mixed feelings about the requirement of modern Wushu athletes competing with “traditional” events.  As we’ve already established, the interpretation of “traditional” Wushu in modern Wushu competition and practice is already a longstanding issue.  And rather than encourage and internalize the study and practice of traditional Wushu, which is what should be the goal here, this aforementioned requirement makes it just that: a requirement, something that forces modern Wushu practitioners to have to compete and perform in the shape of traditional, and nothing more.  There is a difference between the performance aspects of an art, and the actual studying of it, and this is where the problem lies.

While the new duanwei system and emphasis on “traditional” competitions is definitely an improvement to the previous lack of promotion and understanding of traditional Wushu styles, there are still some problems that come along with these implementations.  In the CWA’s attempt to compile traditional Wushu styles into standard programs, they fail to capture the essence that makes up the practice of traditional Wushu.  How can you try to package a whole practice of traditional Wushu when preexisting and already diverse branches of practice, like that of the different Taijiquan family styles, Shaolin and Wing Chun, have their own way of doing things?  The CWA is essentially treating traditional Wushu like modern Wushu, and they shouldn’t be.  Whereas modern Wushu needed to be standardized for reasons we’ve already established, traditional Wushu does not need to be.

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By attempting to standardize traditional Wushu in the same way that modern Wushu was standardized, the intrinsic value of traditional Wushu has been diluted.  Just look at the three primary competition styles of modern Wushu.  In Changquan forms, especially in the majority of the style’s compulsory routines, there is an abundance of Chaquan movements and techniques to the near exclusion of the other Changquan root styles.  Nanquan’s own compulsory routines have almost of all of their techniques extracted directly from Hung Gar forms.  Modern Wushu Taijiquan, while compiled from the study of the five recognized styles of Taiji, has a dominant Yang “flavor” and techniques in it, although recently I have also seen some Chen flavor and movements in modern Wushu Taijiquan as well.  Zhao Changjun, Wushu legend and supporter of traditional Wushu, says in the Kung Fu Magazine article “Where Wushu Went Wrong”, “‘Competitive martial arts can never represent the whole picture of Chinese martial arts.’”  Again, these modern Wushu styles were standardized in this way because they had to be.  But they don’t fully represent traditional Wushu, which goes to show that the further standardization of such a diverse culture of martial arts is an ultimately redundant movement.  As I said before, it is great to see the connection between modern Wushu and traditional, but it is not perfect.  This is the same problem that the new duanwei system and competition requirements face; you can’t put the whole character of a traditional style into a standard, and that’s where the standardization of something qualitative like Wushu ultimately fails.  The relationship between modern and traditional can be improved upon, but I believe that more standardization isn’t the answer.  We already have standardized Wushu; it’s called modern Wushu, and if anything, more standardization is not needed.  Rather, there needs to be a more intimate practice of traditional Wushu that standardization cannot capture.

To do this, encouragement and opportunity, not standards or requirements, are the way to go, if we want to spread awareness of traditional Wushu.  There have been successful movements, such as the emergence of TV series like Kung Fu Quest (功夫传奇; gōng​fuchuán​qí, literally “Gongfu Romance”) and Experience Real Gongfu (体验真功夫; tǐ​yànzhēngōng​fu), which showcase traditional Wushu styles in a documentary format.  These kinds of programs serve to educate people about Chinese martial arts, and have helped to bring back awareness and respect for traditional Wushu.  And now, more and more obscure traditional styles are being showcased at modern Wushu events.  And no amount of standardization or competition rules can do that for Wushu.  But this is just the first step; as it goes without saying, awareness is the first step in achieving anything, but it’s not enough.  We, as Wushu stylists, should be willing to step outside the competition and performance environment, to further our martial arts experience with traditional Wushu.  We should be willing to actually train in whatever traditional Wushu style we are interested in, and study the principles, learn the martial applications and fighting ideas, original intentions and philosophical ideas behind the style.  By opening up and actually exploring and studying traditional Wushu, we as Wushu practitioners can strengthen its relationship with modern Wushu.  This can actually give Wushu a deeper level of meaning and practice, which was something that I said could be achieved in a previous write-up, “No Medal for You: Why (I Feel) Olympic Wushu is No Longer worth It.”

Actual in-depth of study and dedicated practice of traditional Wushu, not another standardized practice, is what can achieve this.  Again, going back to Taiji, many traditionalists use modern Wushu Taijiquan as an example of how modern Wushu lacks the content of traditional Wushu styles.  For instance, traditional Taijiquan practiced contains four fundamental concepts of peng (掤; ward-off), lǚ (捋; rollback), ji (挤; jǐ, press), and an (按; àn, push) (there are more, but these are undoubtedly the most well-known within Taiji circles).  The principles and abilities of concepts like these can be explained and demonstrated, but that’s one thing.  Peng in particular has a special importance in traditional Taijiquan, as it is the physical structure and foundation where all Taiji movements start.  It’s another thing entirely to be able to practice and apply it, which cannot be achieved by watching an instruction tape or by reading a manual.  Rather, the intimate sharing and studying of this knowledge by modern Wushu Taijiquan practitioners can help to rectify this kind of problem, and address the concerns of misinterpretation of traditional in modern Wushu.  The awareness of these kinds of traditional principles is important in the representation of traditional Wushu styles.  As Wang Erping, an accomplished old school modern Wushu athlete and Taijiquan practitioner, says in the Kung Fu Magazine article “Cultures of China” by Gigi Oh with Zhao Xiaohu, “‘When Taiji movements deviate from Taiji principals, it is a very dangerous thing.  Gradually, it won’t be Taiji anymore.’”  This awareness should apply to the in-depth learning and study of all other traditional Wushu styles by modern Wushu practitioners as well.

Many modern Wushu practitioners today may disagree with me, because they would argue that this prospect seems too radical or unheard of.  But the fact is, it’s not; this kind of training has been done before, and if anything I’m only inquiring about the possibility of bringing it back.  While the criticism that modern Wushu and its Taolu practitioners don’t understand the martial aspect of martial arts and/or don’t know how to fight is valid today, this cannot be said for old school Wushu athletes.  There were in fact plenty of first generation modern Wushu athletes who had the chance to learn traditional.  Examples of this include Wushu champions Zhao Changjun, who was trained in traditional Chaquan and Tan Tui (弹腿; tántuǐ, Springing Leg) as well as Ma Style Tongbei under the late Grandmaster Ma Xianda, and Yuan Wenqing, who trained in traditional Wu Style Taijiquan prior to his training in modern Wushu, and of course the famous Jet Li, who also learned his alleged favorite style of Wushu, Fanziquan, from Ma Xianda.  These were athletes who were not only adequate Wushu performers, but were also able to demonstrate that there is a deeper level of practice in Wushu.  This was at a time when, according to Bai Wenxiang, “traditional and modern were viewed with equal importance in the ‘80s.”  This is also why many fans of old school Wushu called it “real Wushu.”  Again, I would like to point out that it is these traditional roots and connection to traditional Wushu that give modern Wushu depth and meaning.  This kind of connection seemed to carry on into the ’90s and 2000s.  The online article “My China Trip” by Eric Yeh, which details the author’s experience training both Taolu and Sanda in Beijing the summer of 1995, then-current members of the Beijing Wushu Team, Nanquan specialist Ka Li and future actor Wu Jing seemed to stress that “application was essential” when demonstrating Taolu.  There is a rather humorous anecdote where Wu Jing is demonstrating the concept of drunken style, dodging the attacks of the author at one point just for the sake of demonstration.  These examples demonstrate how the traditional content ingrained within modern Wushu showed the martial arts content that was often overlooked in Wushu.  However, due the changes in modern Wushu that followed, not the least of which was an emphasis on nandu as part a move to get into the Olympics, the vitality of this connection consequently died down.  Today, modern Wushu athletes only care about how good they look with a performance, not caring about the original martial arts content and principles.  The relationship between modern Wushu and traditional Wushu is almost nonexistent now.  Maybe it’s time to bring it back.

In “Putting the ‘Shu’ Back In Wushu: The Art in the Sport Martial Art”, I said before that in order to add depth and meaning to modern Wushu, and further strengthen the relationship between modern and traditional Wushu, we modern Wushu practitioners need to be willing to look at traditional Wushu ourselves.  In recent years, there has been an improvement in the relationship between modern Wushu and traditional Wushu, but again, it can be better.  Standardization and competition requirements aren’t the solution—they’re just constraints that don’t offer the value of actually practicing and learning traditional Wushu.  Traditional Wushu was not developed to be a competition or performance item, and should not be limited as such, if we want to learn it.  In order to not only become better Wushu practitioners, but better martial artists overall, I implore modern Wushu practitioners who practice “traditional” to actually learn traditional, and give Chinese Wushu a deeper meaning and level of practice.  I would like to close with a quote from the great Zhao Changjun: “‘There should be a good relationship between traditional and modern wushu. They should have more interchange. This could lengthen the competitive life of modern wushu. It could increase development and provide more room to grow. You need two legs to walk: one is modern wushu, one is traditional. You cannot give up one of them.’”  ’Nuff said.

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