Let’s begin with two opposing statements, a yin and a yang, so to speak: Wushu will be included in the 2008 Beijing Olympics; Wushu will not be included in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Which is true? For all intents and purposes, they both are.
But I’m getting ahead of my story. First things first: What the heck is wushu?
It is the national sport of China. More accurately, it is China’s national sports — wushu, it seems, is the umbrella term for a disparate range of activities. Some are blatantly combative, akin to kickboxing or wrestling, while others are more gymnastic, celebrating individual grace rather than brute force.
Traditional wushu has been practiced throughout China for thousands of years, with each region, and many individual teachers, formulating their own styles. In 1949 the Communist Party created wushu in a concerted effort to formalize and nationalize Chinese martial arts. Committees were formed, rules were drawn up, and two principle disciplines were defined.
The first is san shou, a form of one-on-one fighting. Wearing protective boxing-style gloves, chest protectors and headgear, the combatant attempts to topple his opponent out of the marked arena using a combination of punches, kicks and throws. It is aggressive and frenetic, with bouts usually consisting of three two-minute rounds.
The second discipline, taolu, sees competitors perform a choreographed routine in front of five judges who score each performance on a scale of one to 10. Some routines are executed bare-handed, while others involve the use of swords or spears. This is gymnastics with attitude, a sublime fusion of kung-fu and ballet.
Taolu, in all its guises, is the predominant form of wushu, and over the decades it has become established in 86 countries, including the United States, where the presiding body is the United States of America Wushu- Kungfu Federation (http://www.usawkf.org). The global popularity of wushu is enhanced by blockbuster movies featuring the former wushu champion, Li Lian-jie, better known as Jet Li. Among Li’s most famous films is the action-packed Shaolin Temple trilogy, set in the real-life Buddhist monastery of Shaolin (http://www.shaolin.org.cn), where for centuries monks have practiced wushu as part of their quest for enlightenment.
Wushu is also featured in hit movies Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers, further bolstering the sport’s exotic mystique. With its marriage of grace and power, physical exertion and mental serenity, wushu continues to attract converts, especially in Western countries where it offers an antidote to the stresses of modern life. In fact, it’s estimated that 80 percent of wushu practitioners are non-Asian.
But back to the Olympics conundrum: Encouraged by its increasingly global appeal, China has persistently lobbied for wushu to be accorded official Olympic status. When the Olympic Committee named Beijing as the site of the 2008 Olympic Games, China hoped wushu would finally be included as an Olympic sport or, at the very least, as a demonstration sport.
Unmoved by pleas for its inclusion, Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, stuck to a commitment to limit the number of Olympic sports to 28.
So began a process of political agility worthy of the wushu arena.
Call it a happy coincidence or a skillful compromise, in August at the precise time Beijing is hosting the Olympic Games, the city will also be staging the 2008 Olympic Wushu Tournament. Though it’s not an official part of the Games, the tournament does have the blessing of the IOC. Yin and yang.
As more destinations around the globe reopen to travelers, we are ready to get back to one of our favorite activities. Join us over the next several weeks as we take you to places around the world saying #WelcomeBacktoTravel. Take a visual journey through New York’s Finger Lakes region with us.
Finding a beachfront Punta Cana all-inclusive resort for all ages can be daunting when you want to take home great memories with loved ones but also experience a sophisticated escape. Now, you can have both thanks to a new resort: Finest Punta Cana.
Hawaii Governor David Ige delayed the end of Hawai’i's pre-travel testing program from Aug. 1 to Sept. 1. All travelers visiting Hawai’i will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, now in place until Sept. 1, even if travelers take a COVID-19 test.
All airplane flights begin on the ground. An airport is the starting point, but airspace issues continue to expand from the terrestrial to the aerial. Altitude is no barrier when countries claim sovereignty from the Earth to beyond the stratosphere.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, small businesses create two-thirds of net new jobs and account for nearly 48 percent of the U.S. private sector workforce. And small- and medium-sized businesses outpace all other sectors as one of the fastest-growing in the United States. InterContinental® Hotels Group (IHG) goes above and beyond to create opportunities for this segment with its IHG® Business Edge program, voted Best Small- to Mid-Sized Business Program in Global Traveler’s 2019 GT Tested Reader Survey awards.
Flanked by the ski resort-studded Balkan Mountains and situated directly downwind from the fragrant pine forests of the Vitosha mountain, Sofia’s gorgeous landscape and strategic location between Asia and Europe put it at a crossroads where business and pleasure intermingle effortlessly. In recent years Bulgaria’s capital city has ranked as one of the top 10 best places in the world for startup businesses, and the onslaught of new tax exemptions for businesses looking to invest in the country make it an attractive option for many corporations to begin operations within the city.
Yonder, a reimagined outdoor lodging and camping experience in southern Utah, is set to open Sept. 1. Located on scenic Highway 12 on the grounds of an old drive-in movie theater, Yonder will boast 10 custom Airstreams, 22 modern cabins and 67 RV camping sites. The property also features 2,000 square feet of communal space, with a clubhouse and bathhouse, general store, “drive-in” movie theater, resort pool, hot tub and bonfire pits.
IHG® Business Edge provides small- to midsized enterprises with benefits and confidence to navigate the evolving business travel environment.
Andaz West Hollywood launched its Andaz WeHo Extended Stay Program, available through Dec. 31. Available for $179 per night, the offer includes a waived destination fee; automatic upgrade to a deluxe room; pet-friendly (dogs only) for one-time $100 fee; a discounted parking rate of $15 per day or $300 monthly; 15 percent off food and beverage; 15 percent off normal laundry service; Keurig coffeemaker and supplies in room; complimentary bottled water, orange juice and dry snacks in the lobby; Chromecast for streaming services at no additional charge; complimentary local calls and HSIA; a refrigerator; and a microwave available upon request in advance. A minimum stay of 14 consecutive days is required; the maximum stay is 120 consecutive days.