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The History of Wushu
Wushu's history is extremely controversial. However, there are two main theories about its beginnings in the form of Kung Fu. A large number believe that Bodhidharma, (also called Ta Mo), an Indian Buddhist monk is the founder of Kung Fu. Throughout history credit has been given to Bodhidharma as a creator of Sil Lum Kung Fu or the man responsible for introducing the martial arts to China. But some believe that Kung Fu was already in existence long before Bodhidharma arrived in China. There are vague references to a King in China some thousands of years ago who trained his men in techniques of hand-to-hand combat to use against invading barbarians. Some historians date it as far back as the Shang dynasty (16th century B.C.). Others date it back to the time of Huang Ti Emperor (475-221 B.C.). The first written record we have of Chinese martial arts is from a Taoist acupuncturist from the 5th century.
"Wu Shu" is the Chinese term that translates into "military art." Wushu in its early stages served as a means to build up health, fitness, cure disease, prolong life, temper the fighting skills and character and wills, and train military skills, for the members of the societies. Intense military conflicts progressed the further development of Wushu. Wushu matured and formed complete systems of offense and defense.
During late Shang and Zhou Dynasty (1027-777 B.C.), Wushu was not only used for military training but became part of the school education subjects. As time progressed, innumerable people tempered and processed Wushu in different ways. During the period of Warring States (770-221 B.C.), the heads of states and government advocated Wushu in their armies and kept Wushu masters for their own purposes. During the Tang and Sung Dynasties (618-1279), many civil Wushu organizations came into existence. Military Wushu developed more systematically and exhibitions of Wushu arts were held in the armies as morale boosters and military exercises.
Wushu Develops Internationally
By China's Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911), Wushu had formed its basic patterns and was at its height. The Republic Government established the Central Wushu Institute in Nanjing in 1928. After its establishment, local Wushu institutes were created in provinces, cities and counties. Two National Wushu Meets were held by the Central Wushu Institute in 1928 and 1933 in Nanjing, which carried out competitions on long weapons, short weapons, free sparring and wrestling. In 1939, the Chinese Wushu Team gave a demonstration in Berlin at the XI Olympic Games. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Wushu has become a part of the socialist culture and the people's physical education and sports. The latter half of the 20th century has seen a great upswing in the interest in Wushu globally due to the lectures and exhibitions given by Wushu delegations, teams, instructors and experts.
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