Now, at the end of the World Wushu Championships we’ve seen the unity which martial arts can bring. However we also know the hard feuds and stony hearts created by the rupture of this great art. It’s important to understand that not every traditionalist thinks that Contemporary Wushu is a lost cause, without any redeeming value. But, for all practical purposes, most of those outside mainland China have been excluded from the debate. One of my teachers, Adam Hsu, stuck to his Confucian principles and acted in the good faith of a court critic actually contacting the Chinese government with his criticisms and suggestions.But most dissent is rare because most people don’t see the point.

As a person who has seen literally thousands of Contemporary Wushu performances in person as a judge, a spectator, a reviewer of VCDs and DVDs, a friend of many teachers and a viewer of the famous Wushu survey films; I now raise some suggestions of my own. They may appear relatively conservative and even technical but that’s exactly what I have attempted, to create little variations which, given time, will lead to major renovations. If you see no use to all this, fair enough, chalk it up to an discharged obligation.

Proposals for changes in  Tao Lu competitions in Contemporary Wushu:

1. Standard salutations are mandatory but individual teams and countries should be allowed to show a short secondary signature salutation.

2. End postures of the standardized form should drop the final, elbow out posture which displays and perprtuates incorrect martial principles (elbow out, wide silhouette, high stance: an eyesore).

3. Mandatory, graduated aerial kicks are fine in the Long Fist forms but the butterfly kick, inappropriate and non-functional, should be eliminated as a mandatory aerial skill.

4. Freeze postures, traditionally either effortless and controlled or the affect of strong Power Issuance, should be redesigned to show functional skill instead of posing. The frozen postures now utilized are often wobbly, hyper-extended and lacking meaning.

5. A short section of a  maximum number of free style moves should be allowed in each form. We are aware of the flexibility of the forms interpretations now,  but this should be increased and individualized significantly.

6. Since Wushu is claiming international status, approved signature movements for a country or national team should be allowed. (Example: A capoeira kick for the Brazilian team.) Each country can take from a group of common shared skills or a list of skills specific to their country.

7.  “Corner runs” are used to build up speed and height but are often martially non-functional. These should be converted to authentic means of locomotion according to centuries of proven  usage.

8. Allow a section of strength movements. This may favor certain countries but should be allowed to individuate the performances and allow somatotype differentiation. Wushu can easily accommodate this.

9. Make mandatory a section where the performer matches the timing, speed, force issuance and intent of real usage. This should be a section of multiple movements (though in typical Northern fashion they can be distributed with a single step for each single movement) demonstrating the practitioners awareness of powerful, highly focused, concentrated motion.

9. Allow the Four Corners to be reached in any order of performance as long as the player ends in the proper spot.

10. Applications where there is an immediate and efficient angular adjustment in the movement itself should be allowed as distinguished from a performance angular attitude. In other words, sections should show FUNCTIONAL angle changes instead of relaxed, slow, dramatic and NONFUNCTIONAL changes.

11. International means international. Movements geared toward certain body types such slighter, taller Han peoples should be compensated with movements (perfectly traditional) from any human body type. Scoring, while remain esthetically concerned, should not favor a “type” of any kind.

Other posts in this series:
10th World Wushu Championship
On the Championship
The Sad State of Southern Kung Fu

3 Responses to “Proposals”

  1. I agree completely with these proposals as a means of preventing the practice of Chinese martial arts from denigrating into an alternative form of dance with no other true value. I believe our children’s children should understand the wonderful things that we human beings have come up with in our long history on this planet, including traditional martial arts. Thanks for sharing and caring.

  2. Craig says:

    I disagree with point 7. The great martial functionality of this is simply…Running away! 😛 Just kidding. I agree with your points and it’s good to hear these. However unfortunately, I don’t think they’ll be taken seriously by the contemporary wushu community. It has grown to be a completely different bird than CMA – modern or traditional. Unfortunately as well, is the fact that too many of the general public will relate the wushu pop-culture as representative of CMA. We traditionalists find that disgusting, however I am sure that the contemporaries find it wonderful… 🙁

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