There’s a Chinese saying that goes, “If a man wants to do decent work, he must sharpen his tools first.” This applies to practicing Wushu as well. Although it is easier to get started in Wushu because it doesn’t require as much equipment as other sports, one can still choose to purchase specific gear such as clothes and swords. By careful choice and application of these accessories, one can not only avoid injury but also improve the aesthetics and momentum of their moves.
Unlike businesses that mass import Wushu equipment from China, Taiji teacher Su Weiyu designs and produces his own Wushu equipment. After trying a variety of martial arts such as Judo and Kendo as a youngster, Su decided to focus on Taiji after he turned 30. He is now the assistant head coach of Kaohsiung’s Taiji Association.
Su also happens to be in the apparel business, with his own factory and team of experienced sample makers. Stemming from a desire to produce better and more diverse gear for Wushu practitioners, he decided to combine his knowledge in both fields to develop and create a large variety of Wushu equipment.
A popular item is his Wushu shirt.
“Generally speaking, there aren’t any specific shirts for practicing Wushu, as long as it permits ease of movement. The fabric should lean toward the elastic side. We have more than 10 types of fabric in our factory, and the most popular is the quick dry one. Because it is comfortable, many hikers and Zen practitioners have purchased from me too,” he says.
While there are few specific requirements for Wushu shirts, there’s more of a science to Wushu pants. Usually, these pants are much wider than usual, allowing the wearer to squat and stretch easily. But when Su showed the pants he designed to his sample makers, they questioned his judgment at first. They told him that they had never seen such wide pants across decades of experience.
But Su persisted, refusing to reduce the size by even one centimeter. He was also very particular about the fabric, even importing high-end white cloth from Japan. After 40 iterations, they finally agreed on a final design and developed nine different materials for different seasons and purposes.
“I know Wushu, so I know what looks good and feels comfortable,” Su insists.
While not every Wushu practitioner needs Kung Fu footwear, Su says that one must choose shoes that have flat soles that can conform to the groun. As it is important to keep one’s lower body stable while practicing. The soles should also not be too high, or one might lose their balance. The material of the shoe does not matter too much, as cloth and fake or real leather would suffice.
Traditional Chinese Martial Arts also includes a huge variety of weapons or props. Because of cost, most manufacturers tend to focus on the mass production of standard items like staffs, knives, and swords. However, Su has tried to modify existing products such as the Taiji fan, creating one that is easy to grasp and use. He even researched the mechanics of making the opening sound of the fan crisper and experimented with material and glue to make it sturdier.
As far as decorative accessories such as shrouds or tassels attached to swords, Su suggests people choose red or yellow, as they are brighter and look better.
Drawing from his own experience and technology, Su continues to innovate and improve his products. One day, he hopes to go beyond producing gear and produce more intricate products that can increase one’s potential in martial arts.