Wushu is literally translated as "martial arts" and, when written, is comprised of the two Chinese characters "wu" (martial/military) and "shu" (arts). The character for "wu" is the result of two simpler characters, when separated, has been interpreted as "self-defense".
The term "wushu" comes from Mandarin Chinese, the national language of China, while the term “kung-fu” comes from Cantonese, a dialect of the Chinese language, and both are often used interchangeably to refer to Chinese martial arts in general in English. It was created in the People's Republic of China after 1949, in an attempt to nationalize the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts. Wushu is often used to refer to modern competitive taolu (choreographed forms) and sanda (sparring/fighting) while kung-fu refers to the classical counterpart from which wushu is derived.
The Chinese martial arts are made up of numerous styles which are often categorized into internal (nei jia) and external (wai jia) arts. Internal Chinese martial arts focus on the use of the relaxed body and is used to describe styles such as Tai Chi Quan, Bagua Zhang, Hsing-I, and Baji. While typical physical characteristics of external Chinese martial arts include physical development, speed, and explosive movements as is found in Long Fist, Southern Fist, Ground Tumbling Boxing, and Eagle Claw - both internal and external arts require coordination of the mind and body, and it has been said that they have the same destination while simply taking different paths.
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