Wushu is a Chinese word that translates to "martial arts." In China, wushu refers most commonly to what westerners call kung fu. Wushu is a fast martial art that utilizes circular motion and attacking movements that flow easily from one to another. Its circular, flowing movement can make wushu appear showy, even flowery. However, if wushu is like a flower, it is most like a rose, for along with its beauty, its thorns are sharp indeed.
Wushu Fighting Techniques
Strikes in wushu utilize fingers, open hands, fists, elbows, forearms and shoulders. In wushu practically any part of the body can be used as a weapon. The flowery, flowing beauty of wushu in fact masks its potentially devastating power.
In wushu, as in western boxing, punches are given their power by putting body weight behind them. This is achieved by pivoting, twisting or otherwise advancing in some way as the punch is thrown.
Commonly used stances in wushu are the horse stance, cat stance and back stance.
Horse stance, sometimes known as horse-riding stance, is a low sitting, stable stance that is assumed by spreading the feet about two shoulder widths apart and pointing your toes forward. As you sink lower into your horse stance it becomes even more stable for attacking and defending.
Cat stance achieves agility by placing your feet close to one another, sinking your body slightly and bending your front knee in a manner that places your weight just slightly more on your back leg. Point the toes of your front foot downward. From cat stance you are well positioned to launch rapid, short kicks of your front leg.
Back stance is mainly a defensive stance in which almost all of your body weight falls to your back leg. As you sit back it's almost as if you were in an invisible chair. Back stance is excellent for evading an attack and then launching a quick counterattack off your front leg.
Kicks in Wushu
Kicks in wushu tend to be direct, basic and straight at the target. The simplicity of an effectively delivered wushu kick is the key to what makes it so devastatingly effective.
A basic wushu front kick is launched off the rear leg from a fighting stance. Keeping your leg straight you launch the rear leg forward with toes arched back, swinging your leg straight up and out as high and close to your chest as possible.
The sidekick in wushu is similar to the front kick except that it is launched to the side, rather than straight out to the front.
Both the inside and the outside kick are very similar to the wushu front kick. The inside kick, however, circles in from the outside, while the outside kick circles from inside to outside. These kicks both possess a circular motion that gives them added power and velocity while at the same time making them harder to block or evade.
Putting It All Together
In wushu, it's important for one move to flow into the next. Attacks can easily flow one after the other. Conversely, from a failed attack you should be able to flow just as easily into a defensive position or evasion and from there back into your next attacking move.
Wushu's circular motion is about much more than making it pleasant to watch. The circular motion of wushu gives the moves momentum, as well as having a mesmerizing effect your opponent.
In practicing wushu, try to incorporate the circular motion into all of your movements. Also maintain a flow of each movement following another, occasionally breaking one rhythm, only to start another.