2012, Volume 8, Issue 1

Traditional Asian martial arts and youth: Experiences of young Chinese wushu athletes

Marc Theeboom1, Zhu Dong2, Jikkemien Vertonghen1

1Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
2Shanghai University of Sport, P.R., China

Author for correspondence: Marc Theeboom; Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium; email: marc.theeboom[at]vub.ac.be

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Background and Study Aim: Traditional Asian martial arts have often been associated with positive outcomes in youth. But despite the absence of empirical evidence, especially countries with a long tradition in martial arts (such as China and Japan) have reemphasised these proclaimed positive effects. A study was set up to investigate the way how contemporary Chinese youth experience distinct aspects of wushu, the collective noun for the Chinese martial arts.
Materials and Methods: Data were collected among 150 youngsters (7-16 years) regarding, among other things, their views on wushu, the training sessions and their teacher.
Results: As reported in the literature, wushu practice is regarded to serve a variety of functions, among other things, they include moral cultivation, self-defence, health improvement and intellectual development. Findings of this study however, showed that youngsters only reported a few functions.
Conclusions: Data revealed that youth’s experiences and views are not in line with the characteristics of wushu and its traditional teaching practice as described in the literature. It is concluded that these youngsters seem to experience wushu as a modern sport, in which the focus is on learning technical skills rather than on ethical and spiritual cultivation.

Key words: asian martial arts , china, chinese youth, experiences, martial arts, teaching, wushu, youngsters