The 2019 World Chinese Martial Arts Competition hosted by New Tang Dynasty Television’s (NTDTV) Global Competition Series has begun. This is a global martial arts event that aims to pass on and promote the essence of traditional Chinese martial arts. The competition brings martial arts contestants of different styles together in one arena and gives younger generations the opportunity to recognize traditional Chinese martial arts and its position on the world stage.
The chair of the competition’s jury is Li Youfu, a famous American doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, as well as a world champion in Wushu. Li Youfu explained the latest rules for this competition and described the essence and meaning of traditional martial arts to the audience.
He said the word “traditional” consists of two Chinese characters, read as “Chuan Tong” (傳統), out of which the emphasis is on the first character, “Chuan” (傳, “bequeathing”). Here, Li Youfu said: “The Wushu (martial arts) that you see nowadays has been modified and has lost the meaning of traditional Wushu. That’s why in this 2019 competition the contestants are required to clearly distinguish their performances as either traditional Wushu or new Wushu.”
What is the difference between traditional Wushu and new Wushu? Li Youfu said: “Traditional Wushu is the one taught by a master in the past to his disciples. Whether it is of Inner Strength or of External Strength, each stream of martial arts has its own characteristics. Although in the process of inheritance, there may be a number of changes in the opening and closing moves, these are still categorized as traditional Wushu.”
However, the new Wushu has lost its traditional meaning. He says: “Everything has been adopted into the martial arts styles and made a technique, to the extent that even gymnastics and ballet were mixed into it. We can see things mixed with new Wushu that is incompatible with the criteria of the competition.”
Martial arts morality
According to Li Youfu, martial arts is part of China’s 5,000-year-old divine heritage. Li Youfu said: “In the process of inheriting Wushu in the past, the masters would choose and select students to teach, and then develop and build their morals. This is what we call martial arts morals, and it’s the most important thing in traditional Wushu.”
Li Youfu said that he encourages young people to study traditional Wushu and to begin with learning martial arts morals. This involves restraint and learning to control themselves. Also, to understand that the goal of learning martial arts is to stop doing bad things and to promote virtues.
He noted that martial arts morals are there to help us prevent evil and to defend kindness. In the face of real danger to our lives, there should be a spirit of sacrifice for the sake of truthfulness. That this is the basic fundamental morals of a human being. If we can inherit this, then the virtues in our society will improve.
Li Youfu also said: “The World Chinese Martial Arts Competition held by NTDTV specifically focuses on tradition and martial arts morals. The purpose of learning traditional Wushu is to have the ability to defend ourselves, to have a healthy body, to have an unyielding will to never give up, to develop courage, to not be afraid when facing difficulties, and to dare to stand up to dispel evil.”
However, from his past experience, while studying martial arts, Li Youfu believes that it is difficult to find a person with the spirit required for what he had to undergo in the learning of traditional martial arts. He said: “When the teacher told me to practice the next morning, I didn’t even dare to sleep for fear of waking up late the next day. At that time, some of my classmates wanted to practice martial arts with me, but they couldn’t get up early the next day. There were only a few days, over a few months of training, but they were unable to persist. From this, you can see how traditional Wushu is a process for practicing for the rest of your life, and it has a deeper meaning of self-cultivation.”
Recalling his heartfelt journey as the chair of the jury in this competition since 2008, Li Youfu felt that some children who were not born at that time are now practicing martial arts very well, and this has made him feel that there are successors able to inherit the traditional Wushu. As a result, this year’s competition has added the Junior Division to allow traditional Wushu to be passed down to future generations.
Because of this competition’s concerted efforts over the years, the 2019 New Tang Dynasty Chinese Wushu competition is the world’s best place to show how Chinese martial arts traditions have been inherited, to promote martial arts morals, and to gather martial artists from around the world to display the true essence of Chinese martial arts.
Translated by Chua BC and edited by Derek Padula