Chuo Jiao Poking Feet

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Chuojiao (戳腳, literally “poking foot”) is a Chinese martial art that comprises many jumps, kicks, and fast fist sequences. The fist and feet work in unison and strike continuously forward, like “falling meteorites”, never giving the opponent a moment to recover.

The qinggong portion of this style’s training involves a practitioner jumping against a wall with heavy weights affixed to his/her calves. This style is practiced mainly in western China.

History: Chuōjiao originated in the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127) and became popular during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368–1911), especially among boxers of the northern Chinese Hui community, or ethnic Chinese Muslims. Chuōjiao comes from the Wen Family Boxing style of the Song dynasty (960–1279).

Chuojiao is attributed to Deng Liang, who is said to have created the style on the basis of the 18 basic feet plays. He developed the basics according to calculations of the Chinese abacus to form a chain of feet plays incorporating 108 tricks.
According to legend, he later taught the monk Jow Tong the style, who later passed it on to his pupil General Yue Fei.

Some of the outlaws who appear in the famous novel The Water Margin, such as Wu Song, were experts in this style; this is why Chuojiaoquan was alternately known as the “Water Margin Outlaw style”.

It is also known as Yuānyāng Tuu (鴛鴦腿) or “Mandarin Duck Leg.” In The Water Margin’s 28th chapter, entitled “Drunken Wu Song beats Jiang Menshen innkeeper”, it mentions that Wu Song uses the following moves: “step of nephrite ring, leg of mandarin duck”.

Zhao Canyi, a general in the failed Taiping Rebellion of the mid-19th century, was a Chuojiao Fānziquán master. After the failure of the rebellion, Zhao went into seclusion in Hebei Province in Raoyang, where he taught Fānziquán, which emphasizes the hands, to the Wang family and Chuojiao, which emphasizes the feet, to the Duan family. During practice, the families would exchange techniques.

Styles: The northeast China style of Chuojiao falls into two categories-martial and scholarly routines. The Beijing Chuojiao does not have any such division. It is called Chuojiao Fanzi, which is short for Chuojiao (feet poking Chuan) and Fanzi Quan (tumbling Chuan). There is still another style which combines the martial and scholarly routines.

Techniques: The martial routine was the origin of Chuojiao (feet poking Chuan). The martial routine in Shenyang later became known as the Hao-style Chuojiao, namely feet poking Chuan named after Hao Mingjiu. It features powerful but comfortable moves and its blows are accurate and incorporate a variety of subtle feet tricks. Hands and feet cooperate well for better advantage and longer reach. Its strikes are short but fatal. Hardness is the core of Chuojiao which it combines with suppleness. Its routine consists of nine inter-connected twin feet routines. These routines can be practised either one by one, or linked together. The feet plays call for close cooperation between the feet which is why it is called twin feet play. Another feet poking Chuan is called nine-tumble 18-fall Chuan.

The scholarly routine is a derivative of the martial routine. It is said that during the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1875-1908) of the Qing Dynasty, boxer Hu Fengsan of Shenyang learned of the fame of Chuojiao masters, the Duans in Hebei Province, and traveled 500 kilometers to study with him. After years of hard work, Hu came to understand the secrets of Chuojiao and went back to his native town, where he further developed the art into the scholarly routine, known later as the Hu-style Chuojiao. It is characterized by its exquisite and compact stances and clear-cut, accurate and varied movements.

It is also very fast in delivering both fist and feet blows. The scholarly style features such routines as 12-move Chuan, 18-move Chuan, flying swallow Chuan (small flying swallow Chuan), arm Chuan, turning-ring Chuan, jade-ring Chuan, six-method Chuan, two-eight Chuan, two-eight feet plays, 16-move Chuan, 24-move Chuan, 32-move Chuan, soft tumbling Chuan, one-legged 80-move feet plays, one-handed 81-move fist plays, etc.

The martial-scholar tumbling Chuan has combined the strengths of the martial and scholar routines, especially the combative techniques. It is arranged according to the rhythms of offence and defence of the martial arts and combines high-low, release-catch, extension-flexion and straight-rounded movements.

Its tricks, combinations of motions, still exercises, hardness, suppleness, substantial and insubstantial moves are well planned and accurate. New tricks include ground skill feet poking, feet poking tumbles, Shaolin feet poking, leg flicking feet poking, free-mind feet poking, eight-diagram feet poking, etc. All these have their own styles, forms, rhythms and techniques.