Q.: It is well known that karate and other Eastern martial arts have passed through a difficult time of development in our country and in Moscow in particular and now are widely spread among people of different ages and professions. What are the distinctions between wushu-sanda and other martial arts?
A.: Wushu-Sanda has been developing in Russia for more that 10 years. In August, 1999, after more than a two-year recession, wushu-sanda again got an official recognition and became a member of the United Russian Sport Classification (URSC).
Now young sportsmen taking part in competitions can be awarded with categories and titles. The first representatives of wushu art were from Dagestan where wushu-sanda had got government support and became one of the most popular sports.
Now representatives of famous school headed by Russian coach M. N. Rabadanov remain leaders not only in Russia but also abroad. At the World Wushu-Sanda Championship which took place in Hong Kong in November, 1999, two of Rabadanov’s students won gold medals. By the way, it was Hong Kong where at the International Wushu Conference it was decided that hence forward wushu (traditional wushu) would be considered as an independent branch of wushu developing. It was also negotiated to include wushu-sanda into performance at the next Olympic Games.
Wushu-Sanda is a sport combat on platform where all actions are regulated by the rules. Serial attacks with arms and feet into body and head, throws, pushes and trips are held in the sport. So fight is drawn to real situation as much as possible. Injure problems does not take place if there is good judging, sportsmen have good technical skills and are physically well-prepared. Light protecting equipment and mitts are provided for sportsmen.
How it differs from karate? With all my respect to karate and other martial systems (I myself had been training them for many years), sanda is more natural system and it corresponds to circumstances of a real fight. We should just mention that in widely advertised martial arts, famous in our country due to the expansion of international centers and states, there are no hand strikes into head and besides there are a lot of other conditional characters… Sanda (can be translated from Chinese "natural strikes") came to our country with the comprehension of the fact that the real martial traditional wushu with its history (including the Dao methods of finding immortality, the achievements of the Chinese national medicine and the methods of the Chan psycho training) is an inexhaustible source of all the Eastern martial arts.
Q.: How traditional wushu and sport wushu-sanda connected with each other?
A.: There are practically no traditional wushu masters left in China. The thing we’ve been taught during many years by government structures (also in Russia) was just the echo of wushu, its poor shadow – mere gymnastics. The most interesting fact is that the famous master, professor Ma Menta, a son of the Tongbei style founder in China, decided to develop the strongest martial art – wushu – in Russia.
A great number of clubs in Moscow, where so-called wushu (sort of a mixture of gymnastics and wrong karate) was taught, surprised even the famous master during his visit. The enthusiasm of our wushu sportsmen surprised him as well. Then the master decided to revive his family style… in Russia. His best students, leading masters of the traditional wushu, have been coming to our place and generously shared their knowledge with us.
The result was that the knowledge and experience became the foundation of Tongbei methods and Wushu-Sanda competitions became a touchstone giving the real chance to prove the effectiveness of different holds.
Q.: Isn't it the same thing - Wushu and Kung-Fu?
A.: The term "kung-fu" became famous because of actor Bruce Lee. Literally it means - "the best in one's business". One can be a master able cooking duck in a Peking way, the "kung-fu". It's more appropriate to use the term "Wushu", i.e. "martial arts". Earlier martial arts names were chuanshu, ui and others.
Q.: So, you mean that wushu-sanda has some advantages compared to other limited and ritual systems of karate, etc. And what about safety? Should we give weapons to all young people? And what about moral and ethic qualities of your students?
A.: We say every cook praises his own broth. But still we can't but admit that traditional wushu technique is a great deal refined than any canonical style of karate or other system, which in fact set up on their own, from some "hard" wushu branches (translation of the term "karate" is "Chinese arm"). Our students really get a serious training (concerning not only technique and some skills of a hand-to-hand combat).
Traditional wushu training also develops a number of necessary physical and moral qualities, influences in a good way one’s health. While in wushu gymnastics the form prevails over the sense and the aim of exercises, sport rules (like "keep your back straight") lead to negative consequences of intensive training (it is well known that most of the famous masters of China get a number of professional diseases), in traditional wushu everything is different. Old traditional wushu masters famous in China have always been notable for their wonderful health and despite their age they demonstrate wonderful technique.
Self-regulation and education are the most important aspects of our school activity. We have talks, tea ceremonies and theoretical lessons with our students. In all times great attention was paid to physical and moral training in martial arts in China and all other Eastern countries. The Eastern martial arts have a long history and many traditions. Being formed long ago and changed with human and society development, they were not only aimed at self-defense and victory over the enemy but they were also an important part of the culture absorbing and multiplying the greatest achievements in different areas, first of all in human and his inner being and spiritual world.
Unfortunately, we often come across with the misrepresenting of the "inner work" in people's minds. The space can be filled with “revelations”, mass “meditation”, and “liberation” methods. And all this along with rituals, rules of behavior and regulations, which imply unconditional submission to the will of master, is pressed into students' heads. For young personalities it is a success to pass such a trial and to win it with an unbroken mentality.
Q.: And the last question… At what age can one go in for traditional wushu and where?
A.: There is a clear age division in our groups. There are experimental groups of children from age of 5. We use games and music during training. Our students get belts and certificates, and are trained according to the program worked out together with the Chinese specialists. Medical attendance is mandatory. One can go in for traditional wushu at any age. There are styles and techniques recommended to the middle-aged and elderly people. Besides, even if a person has never gone in for something like that it is not an obstacle for further success. Training Center is located in sport club "Malakhit" ("Malachite", Maximova St., 1). You can also take traditional wushu lessons on our website: http://www.wushu.org/.