Traditional Wushu (commonly referred to as kung-fu) is the root of sport wushu, and has a long and diverse history. As wushu originated in China, traditional wushu practices have developed and spread throughout its geographical terrain and absorbed distinct cultural, ethnic and philosophical characteristics of the various groups in China.
Originating from the need for self-defense, survival as well as an art of war, over its thousands of years of development different styles and practices emerged featuring various methods, content, philosophies, tactics and techniques. While at its core traditional wushu is a method of attack and defense, its practice has surpassed a simple means to an end and it is deeply intertwined with ethical and moral principles. Traditional wushu’s practice is aimed at preserving the principles, methods and legacies of previous generations which developed and relied on these arts as a method of survival and for life improvement.
A wide variety of styles and practices can be found, some featuring mainly hand techniques, other focusing on leg techniques, some featuring wrestling; some focus on attack and defense while yet others strive to promote and preserve health and well-being. Traditional wushu also includes an extremely vast array of traditional weaponry which has been handed down from the age of cold weapons with methods that have been preserved by subsequent generations. With numerous clans, sects, family systems and styles, traditional wushu is diverse and colourful and is an extremely deep and complex physical culture. It is practiced by people from all walks of life, irrespective of race, gender, age, social class or physical condition. Traditional wushu is the cultural and sporting gem of the Chinese people.
The International Wushu Federation (IWUF) preserves and promotes traditional wushu as the practice has steadily entered the realm of sport for all. Traditional Wushu conforms to the aims and values of promoting social cohesion, cultural and educational value and the development of healthy lifestyles and habits. In 2004 the IWUF held its first edition of the biennial World Traditional Wushu Championships. As a sport-for-all event, the nature of the competition is to promote its practice through large scale participation and exchange. The event features thousands of competitors in all age groups competing in a wide variety of divisions, the majority of whom are awarded prizes for participation. With a spirit of interaction, the event aims to build friendships and interest in the practice of traditional wushu.