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Great Grandmaster Liu Yun-Qiao

Great Grandmaster Liu Yun Qiao

Founder of Wu-Tan and master of styles such as Bajiquan, Piguazhang and Baguazhang.
Grandmaster Kurt Wong

Grandmaster Kurt Wong

Our instructor's shifu teaches traditional guoshu in the city of Anchorage, Alaska.
Sifu Paolo Castaneda

Shifu Paolo Castaneda

Wu-Tan's proud tradition was brought to Oslo by Shifu Paolo Castaneda, head instructor at Oslo Wu-Tan.

About Guoshu

Among the many rich cultural treasures of China, the martial arts is perhaps among the most significant of them all. Guoshu (national art or martial art) has a long and glorious history. During early times, guoshu was developed during times of wars and political unrest. It’s main purpose was survival. Many guoshu systems were tested in these situations and if by any means was not effective, the style would die out of use.

UppercutGuoshu is characterized by both linear and circular movements combining hard and soft techniques. There are four fighting areas that guoshu specializes in: da (striking), ti (kicking), shuai (wrestling), and na (controlling). Guoshu does not limit it's practitioner's to just punching and kicking, rather the whole body is the fist. Shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, back, etc are used in combat situations.

Among the most important concepts of guoshu is to use the entire body for delivering powerful and explosive strikes. Guoshu is learned by practicing a number of sets or forms. Forms are a series of movements that are stringed together to develop timing, coordination, and power. The forms serve as a encyclopedia of combat techniques that has been preserved for many hundreds of years. 

Within guoshu there are many styles and subdivisions. Guoshu can be divided into two main divisions: Northern styles and Southern styles. Northern styles of guoshu are those that are found above the YangTze river. These styles stress the use of footwork. Partly because the landscape of Northern China was more mountanous, footwork was essential for combat. Northern style legwork helps to aid the hand techniques in breaking through the gates (defense) of an attacker. Examples of Northern styles are Bajiquan, Baguazhang, Long Fist, Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, Tongbeiquan, Tanglangquan, etc.

Southern styles focuses on a firm stance and strong hand techniques. In southern China, the environment was much smoother than the north also containing many trading ports. Many fights occurred on boats and a strong stance was needed to keep balance. Examples of Southern styles are Hung Gar, Choy Li Fut, Ngo Cho Kung, Wing Chun, Bak Mei, etc.

In almost all guoshu, close range fighting is preferred, since real fights tend to happen at short range, and most styles don't use high kicks.

So how is this different from kung fu? If we look at the translation of kung fu, we can find that it means “hard work.” Another translation of the word kung fu can also be “level of achievement.” Anybody who has dedicated a certain amount of hard work and time to develop a skill is considered to have kung fu. An example we can use outside the martial arts is calligraphy. A calligrapher practices long hours to perfect his skill in calligraphy. It can be said that his kung fu is calligraphy. The same goes with a singer. A singers practice many hours to develop their voices. Singing is their kung fu. The actual term to call what is referred as “kung fu” is actually guoshu.

When we refer to guoshu, we are referring to the martial arts of China prior to the Communist take over. The traditional aspects of guoshu was actually preserved in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia. Its focus is on developing power and combat usages.