Feature: Wushu's growing popularity in U.S.-Xinhua

Feature: Wushu's growing popularity in U.S.

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-11-16 10:39:16

This photo taken on May 6, 2023 shows Claire Chevalier performing at the AsiaFest festival in Plano, Texas, the United States.(Photo by Tian Dan/Xinhua)

by Zhou Yilan

FORT WORTH, United States, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- "Go strong! Go strong!" called out Wang Tao, a master coach and owner of a Kung Fu studio in Plano, Texas, to a group of learners who were kicking, punching, jumping and turning against a full wall.

Wushu (Martial arts) studios have become a growth industry in the United States, mainly comprising small operators serving local residents, like Wang's studio located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.

"You won't be surprised if you find you are surrounded by a diversity of martial arts studios in the United States. Everywhere you go, you will see either a Kung Fu institute or a Wushu studio," said Allen Riley of Wylie, Texas.

According to Bookee, a platform for fitness entrepreneurs, there are more than 3.9 million Wushu participants in the United States, with 15,900 Wushu schools helping them perfect their craft.

"Martial arts is spreading like an umbrella throughout the west, not only due to entertainment, but also for keeping fit and being healthy," said Krist Caldwell, an attorney and a Wushu practitioner of more than 20 years.

Asked to describe Wushu, fellow practitioner Claire Chevalier of Plano shared her thoughts.

"The beauty of Tai Chi, [for example] I would say it's very elegant. It's a little bit like a dance, but it has something else on top of it. It's a little bit like a drama or something added to it, like the passion of Kung Fu in the skills," she said.

Chevalier has been practicing Kung Fu for seven years, and traveled to China in 2019. "You can tell that you work not only on the muscle, but you also work on the tendons, which is very specific to Tai Chi. You feel like you also work on your internal organs when you practice the routine. So it has a lot of pluses," she added.

Various research indicates that the popularity of Wushu has steadily increased in the United States in recent years. According to Statista, between 2010 and 2021, the total number of people practicing the sport went up by nearly 23 percent to reach around 6.2 million. The latest IBISWorld data estimated that the revenue of Wushu studios in the United States will reach 16.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2023.

"Martial arts is generations old in the United States," Riley said.

Through practicing Wushu, American practitioners have also become exposed to Chinese history and culture.

"In [Chinese] Kung Fu, what we call the master is "Shifu". And it's my understanding that this comes from two words: One is master or teacher, the other one is father. So it shows that [in] martial arts, you have a special relationship with your teacher, but I also think in Chinese culture it stresses the importance of family and the group. So that's one very specific thing I've learned about the culture from martial arts," said Krist.

"Training Wushu has certainly been a good introduction to Chinese culture. It sparked the interest in Chinese customs, language, cuisine and travel," said Angela Saucedo Warren, a 37-year-old mother of two from Fort Worth. "Wushu is powerful, acrobatic, and beautiful."

"I think there's a great market for martial arts in the United States and we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg. But beneath it is a very large iceberg under the water and it will continue to grow," Caldwell said.

The 16th World Wushu Championships (WWC), which begins on Thursday in Fort Worth, is expected to bring the world's top Wushu athletes to the United States and set up a platform of showcasing China's cultural legacy to the world.

It will be the second time for the United States to host the tournament after the third WWC was held in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1995.

This photo taken on May 6, 2023 shows enthusiasts from Wang Tao Kung Fu studio performing at the AsiaFest festival in Plano, Texas, the United States.(Photo by Tian Dan/Xinhua)