If you connect the dots it would appear so…
50 days from today, Wushu, the National sport of China, will make its Olympic debut at the Beijing Games. Backtracking to 1982, Jet Li put this style of martial arts on the map in the transcendent Kung-Fu film Shaolin Temple. The movie is often credited with helping revive Shaolin in China. And prior to his movie star fame, Jet Li honed his skills as member of the Beijing Wushu team, where he was a five-time Wushu National Champ. (via Wikipedia)
The People’s Republic of China formally created wushu, which literally translates to Kung Fu in Chinese, in 1949 in an attempt to nationalize the practice of martial arts. Shaolin Kung-Fu’s origin dates back to the eighth century, and there are over 100 styles of martial arts that have some relationship to Shaolin. However, experts say that aside from a few systems it would be virtually impossible to establish a connection between Shaolin and modern Wushu.
Still, as someone who grew up in the Mortal Kombat-era (Liu Kang was a shaolin monk), I’d be elated to see Olympians executing tiger-style, shaolin shadow boxing and the Wu-Tang sword style.
The International Wushu Federation petitioned the IOC to be included as an official sport in this year's Olympics. The IOC is allowing the IWF to hold an event during this year’s games, but it will not count as one of the 28 official Olympic Sports. Instead, it is being called the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Wushu Tournament. (via Wikipedia)
The tournament will feature teams from 25 countries including the U.S.A. The American team currently trains in Willimantic, CT, and includes 15-year old Wang Kewen who has studied Wushu since he was six years old, and 17-year old Li Tianya who has trained since she was nine.
In 2007, the IOC told the lobbyists for Wushu that they would need at least 80 countries to participate for it to become a legit event at the games. According to Mr. Wu Bin, Director of Wushu Academy UK, they have over 100 countries on board now and are working towards the 2012 Olympics in London.
For more info, check out the International Wushu Federation's Website: IWUF.org
Check out footage of Wushu from Jet Li's 1982 film Shaolin Temple: