Wushu's New Poster Girl
Sima Azimi is Afghanistan’s first female Wushu trainer. She became interested in Wushu after watching martial arts movies as a kid and acquired her skills while living as a refugee in Iran.
There are 20 Afghan girls that learn Wushu in the Shaolin Wushu club in Kabul. Most of them are students. The eldest is 20 years old, the youngest is 13 years old. They have been practicing Wushu for almost two years.
Wushu is both an exhibition and a full-contact sport derived from traditional Chinese martial arts. It was developed in China after 1949, in an effort to standardize the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts, although attempts to structure the various decentralized martial arts traditions date back earlier, when the Central Guoshu Institute was established at Nanking in 1928. The term Wushu is Chinese for “martial arts”. In contemporary times, wushu has become an international sport through the International Wushu Federation (IWUF), which holds the World Wushu Championships every two years; the first World Championships were held in 1991 in Beijing and won by Yuan Wen Qing.
Competitive wushu is composed of two disciplines: taolu and sanda. Taolu involves martial art patterns and maneuvers for which competitors are judged and given points according to specific rules. The forms comprise basic movements (stances, kicks, punches, balances, jumps, sweeps and throws) based on aggregate categories of traditional Chinese martial art styles and can be changed for competitions to highlight one’s strengths. Competitive forms have time limits that can range from 1 minute, 20 seconds for some external styles to over five minutes for internal styles. Modern wushu competitors are increasingly training in aerial techniques such as 540-, 720-, and even 900-degree jumps and kicks to add more difficulty and style to their forms.