The Chinese martial arts are an important and unique component of the Chinese cultural heritage with centuries of history. They embody the entire Chinese cultural characteristics from one aspect. The Chinese martial arts is generally called Wushu, where Wu means military and shu means art, thus Wushu means the art of fighting . The Chinese martial arts not only include the physical exercise but also Chinese philosophy, meditation, military, strategy, techniques, education, aesthetics, etc, and mirroring the character and sagacity of the Chinese people.
The Chinese martial arts contain the traditional cultural spirit of Chinese people and pay great attention to mental activities in fighting. They stress that mind should guide breath ,breath should guide the motions of the body , that hands , eyes and pacing , spirit , breath and force , ferociousness and agility , the external and the internal , all should be harmonious , and that motions should be changeful and rhythmic . Furthermore, they advocate winning the opponent artfully and through taking advantage of the opponent’s momentums. At the same time, the martial arts practices do not mind to retreat a step first so as to be justified, advantageous and well controlled. In fighting, the players strive to hit surely, accurately and forcefully, and put sureness in the first place.
Settling the relationship between the body and the mind is the top concern of the Chinese martial arts which emphasize the “the external exercises for bones and muscles and the internal exercises for breath.” All the schools of the Chinese martial arts stress “presence of mind, breath and strength”, so as to equilibrate Yin and Yang, regulate breath and blood and build up body and strength. By settling the relationship between mind and body and the relationship between oneself and the opponent, they also settle the relationship between “form and content” of the martial arts. In fighting, it is very important to achieve “changing according to different opponents”, and “getting opportunities through defending”.
The Chinese classic philosophy is the principle of the Chinese martial arts. Generally speaking, theories of the Chinese martial arts have been influenced mostly by Chinese philosophies; while the technical progress of the Chinese martial arts corresponds with the development of the classic culture and technique, especially with the development of combating methods, artistic interests and hygiene. They underwent three phases. The first phase was the phase of bravery, based on strength and bravery; in the second phase, martial skills are developed, ground on tactics and skills; the third phase is the phase of martial arts exercises which are based on standardization and stylization. On the level of philosophy, the marital arts stress “unification of man and nature”, i. e. the unification of existence and nonexistence, acting and stopping, Yin and Yang, mind and things, the subjective and objective. And on the social level, the martial arts emphasize cultivation of mind and personality, awareness of the natural law and complacency. They thus break all prejudices with regard to winning and losing and to successes and failures, and take a calm attitude. In fighting, the practitioner of the martial arts plays calmly as in a game, with a free and initiative attitude. Therefore, the Chinese martial arts are not simply a sport event or a fighting technique, but are thinking, life attitude and personality cultivation. In a contest with an opponent the Chinese martial arts exercisers not only take a great care about the moves , and exertion of force , but also take a great care about his own temperament and mind , with a martial arts spirit transcending mere technique.