January 6, 2010
Shuai Chiao (Chinese Wrestling)
My friend Michael Ashwix has his Shuai Jiao site/blog back up and going. It is a great resource for all things Chinese martial arts related, but specifically on the art of Shuai Chiao / Jiao, or Chinese Wrestling. Michael is an excellent source for all things Shuai related, being a student of the infamous Li Bao Ru, and his blog has always had interesting articles and clips. Lets hope he keeps on top of it and continues to post on a regular basis.
Shuai has a long and interesting history within the Chinese martial arts. Arguably one of the oldest wrestling systems still practiced today, much myth and fantasy surround the art in it's various manifestations. To try and categorize each school is silly, as China contains hundreds of various ethnic tribes from all corners of the world and it seems that each ethnic group brought their own grappling methodologies to the table. Depending on where in China ones teacher learned will dictate the flavor or style of Shuai Chiao, but ultimately it is all the same in principle and function. Each "school" brings their own favored methods and / or techniques, but since all of us are human we are restricted to the same basic mechanical laws of physics.
All systems of Shuai use the Da Lian jacket, which is similar to a Judo gi, but tighter across the chest, with shorter sleeves (usually only covering the biceps), and a more open chest. This changes little in terms of efficacy, because of the jacket Shuai brings some unique grips into the game.
In general the rules are the same as Sumo (which can be argued derived from Shuai Chiao), first to touch anything other than your feet to the ground...losses! For this very reason sacrifice throws are not common place. The Chinese NEVER formulated a comprehensive curriculum for ground grappling, so their is no "pulling guard" nor ground grappling. Many consider ground grappling to be akin to "rolling in the dirt like dogs." Though it has become fashionable for Shuai schools to now "find" the lost ground techniques of the Chinese martial arts.
I have been very fortunate to train Shuai Chiao with some of the best in North America! My teacher Hu Xi Lin was a student of Pu Liu (Pu En Fu), one of Beijing's most famous coaches and wrestlers! Hu has incorporated many various throws and take downs into his Mantis and free fighting. Unfortunately the overwhelming majority of what he has taught me has been based off of strikes, not using the jacket and grips. This has left me with a weakness in my jacket / gi game, though I am starting to work out the kinks.
I have also been privileged to train with some of Chang Tung Sheng's top students who migrated to America over the past 30 years. Chang was one of the most famous wrestlers of the 20th century, nicknamed the "Iron Butterfly" Chang produced many champs who settled here in the US. I have never trained with Jeng Shing Ping, but if I ever get the opportunity many say he was possibly better than Chang himself! Here he is in his younger days demonstrating on hard concrete!
Dave Pickens is another great source for Shuai in the US. Living in Texas (we won't hold that against him), Dave is one of the most open, nicest guys you will meet in the Chinese martial community. Dave does a lot with local charities, as well as being instrumental in spreading the art of Shuai Chiao throughout North America.
It has been said that David Lin has the best Shuai in country, and from the couple of times I have had the pleasure to train with him I could not argue. Though I have never sparred with him, David has thrown me a time or three and he is very solid in his technique! He has produced some tapes/DVDs and a book, look for reviews in the near future.
John Wang has also taught me a lot of Shuai Chiao, and again you will not meet many nicer than John. He is very humble about his origins, yet contains a wealth of knowledge in regards to Shuai Chiao theory and technique both with and without the jacket.
Though severely outdated this is a great site for info on mainland styles of Shuai.
There are a handful of DVDs and books on the market today, and some are better than others, but overall few are worth the money. Michael Ashwix has been working on a translation of his teachers text on Shuai Chiao, but as of this writing there is no word on when the project will be complete. As the days tick by early in 2010 I will put up more when I find quality stuff regarding Shuai. Meanwhile I hope you enjoy the above clips.
Train Hard. Train Smart.