Martial Arts or Wushu, have been created and developed for self-defense and survival throughout human history. Correct Chinese Wushu training improves physical ability, health and willpower. It gives an individual an excellent method of exercise, a personal art form, a competitive sport and a basis for self-defense and sparring. Total martial training includes Ti (kicking), Da (punching), Shuai (throwing), Na (controlling), Gi (hitting), Ci (thrusting), etc. Related to each style are basic forms, or sequences, which may involve defense strategies, offense, retreat, mobility and immobility, speed and slowness, hard or soft postures, emptiness and fullness, with or without weapons.
Wushu (literally, "martial methods") was historically termed "Wu-Yi" or martial arts. Fairly recently, the Chinese government changed the term to "Guoshu," or "national method". The term most popular in North America is "Kung-fu" which actually means one's ability in any skill, not necessarily martial.
Ancient Chinese history records that during the "Spring and Autumn" and the "Warring States" periods (770 BC - 221 AD), the King of the Zhou kingdom ordered a sword contest. A young woman by the name of Yu Niu emerged from three thousand swordsmen as the ultimate victor in a seven-day contest. Her sword methods and philosophies were passed down for a thousand years. Some of her writings expound timeless Wushu philosophies. For example:"When fencing, though highly alert, The appearance is as calm as a fair lady's But when in action, a vicious Tiger emerges.
On a similar note:"Weak and exposed in appearance; But powerful when unleashed. One's reactions may start afterwards, But the response arrives there first.
Since the Zhou Dynasty, which ended in 771 BC, practical Wushu training has included basic skills such as strength training, fencing, staff sparring, spear training, etc. and it has also included training by using forms, such as the Shaolin Eight Methods, with the basic form supplemented by weapons forms, two-man forms, staff forms, etc.
The emphasis and importance of this type of martial training has played an important role throughout Chinese history During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), which was one of the most powerful periods of Chinese history, warriors were actually chosen through martial competition and officers were promoted through this same sort of competition Since at that time communications were well established with many neighboring countries; Chinese Wushu had a pronounced impact on these countries and was called "Tang Su Do," or the "Way of the Chinese Hand" During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD), various forms of Wushu were well established in Korea, Japan, Tibet and many other countries What is called "Karate" is actually a descendent of Southern Chinese boxing forms and similarly, Judo can trace its origins to the importation of Chinese wrestling and Qinna, the precursor of Jiu-jitsu.