Twirling spears, swords and clubs at frightening speeds, the brightly clad fighters performing flying kicks could be mistaken for extras in a kung fu movie. They are not actors, however, but athletes hoping not just to win gold at the World Wushu Championships but also to elevate the Chinese martial art — made famous by Jet Li and Jackie Chan — from an ancient warrior code to a modern-day Olympic sport.
Wushu, a broad term for the martial arts disciplines from China, is often called kung fu and pits fighters against one another in hand-to-hand combat or intricate acrobatics focusing on flair and weapon work. It has transformed from a centuries-old, exclusively Chinese combat discipline into a global sport.
Now wushu hopes to follow other martial arts, like Japan’s judo and Korea’s taekwondo, by becoming an Olympic sport. The International Wushu Federation’s efforts suffered a setback when wushu was dropped from a short list of sports being considered for the Tokyo 2020 Games, but the organization is confident of inclusion in 2024. Agence France-Presse