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Taolu, or form, is one of the two disciplines in competitive wushu. It is a kind of performance sport, and involves routines that competitors perform in front of a panel of judges, who will award scores accordingly. Individual events involve both specially choreographed as well as compulsory routine categories. The latter requires all competitors to perform identical pieces, and are graded on their execution. In addition, there are also dui lian (duo) and ji ti (group) categories, where competitors perform choreographed sets.
The duration of each routine will depend on the type of event you are competing in, and may last from 50 seconds all the way to six minutes. However, regardless of duration, competitors must finish before the stipulated time. For example, in a 50-second event, you will need to execute a concluding gesture, such as a Chinese fist salute, a few seconds before the 50-second mark and conclude your item in time. Music is permitted for contestants who wish to perform to it. However, they must not contain any words or lyrics. Verbal commands and cues are not allowed either.
Each event group in a competition must consist of exactly six competitors or teams. If there are less than six competitors in a category, they will be added to another which involves a style similar to the one they had signed up for. If there are too many competitors, they will be split to form new groups of six, with the remaining ones added to other categories. Grouping decisions are made solely by the competition committee and director.
Competitors perform on a simple carpet with a safety area marked out in white around it. Individual competitors use an eight by 14-metre carpet with a two-metre-wide safety area, while group events are conducted on a 14 by 16-metre carpet, with a one-metre-wide safety area. The ceiling must be at least eight metres above the carpet, in order to accommodate high jumps and leaps.
There are also strict regulations for the weapons used in taolu competition events.
Jian and dao (swords and broadswords)
The tip of the weapon, when held up with a straightened arm behind your back, must reach the top of the competitor’s ear.
Nandao (southern broadswords)
The tip of the weapon, when held up with a straightened arm behind your back, must reach the bottom of the competitor’s chin.
The length of this weapon must not be shorter than the competitor’s height.
The length of this weapon cannot be shorter than the distance from the ground to the competitor’s middle fingertip when his or her arms are extended overhead while standing straight.
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