Martial Arts: Wushu has company

India is sending participants for three of the martial arts forms at the 2018 Asian Games, skipping the ju-jitsu and sambo competitions.

Sambo, a mix of judo and wrestling, was developed by the Russian army in the 1920s. The name translates as únarmed self-defence'.   -  Getty Images

Of the five martial arts that are part of the 2018 Asian Games programme, four — ju-jitsu, kurash, pencak silat and sambo — are being contested for the first time at Jakarta-Palembang. Wushu has been included in every edition since 1990. India is sending participants for four of the martial arts, skipping the ju-jitsu competition.


Wushu, a traditional Chinese martial arts form, is divided into two categories — taolu and sanda. Taolu deals with predetermined, acrobatic movements where the contestants are judged on their technique against imaginary attackers. Sanda, on the other hand, is a full-contact sport, a combination of ancient practices and modern sports principles, resembling wrestling or kick-boxing with a lot of grappling. In the seven editions that have featured wushu, China has dominated with 65 medals. India has won five — one silver and four bronze — and is sending a 13-member team this year.


A Japanese traditional martial arts form, ju-jitsu is a grappling-oriented combat sport that involves a lot of ground fighting. Matches are won by points or submission. India is not participating in this event.


Sambo, a mix of judo and wrestling, was developed by the Russian army in the 1920s. The name is an acronym of a Russian expression that translates as ‘unarmed self-defence’. Striking isn’t allowed and points are won by throws or submissions. India has selected a six-member team for the event.


A traditional martial arts form from Uzbekistan, the main difference between kurash and other martial arts is the absence of ground fighting. It is an upper-body-only form involving a lot of standing techniques. Twelve participants from India are being sent for the Games.

Pencak silat

Pencak silat is a form of fighting that originated in Indonesia as a means of self-defence and turned into a competitive sport. It is a full-body sport that involves, striking, grappling techniques and throwing along with the use of certain types of weapons. After first announcing a 22-member team, the Indian Olympic Association cut the squad down to three, sending a handball team instead.