Shuai Chiao Chinese Wrestling

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Shuai jiao (Chinese: 摔跤 or 摔角) is the modern Chinese term for wrestling. In a Western context, the term refers specifically to Chinese and Mongolian styles of wrestling. These styles have a long history and have undergone several changes in both name and form. Ancient Shuai jiao is claimed to be the progenitor of Sumo, and quite possibly Jujitsu and Judo.

Shuai Chiao, also written as, “Shuaijiao,” is considered the oldest form of Chinese kungfu. It is mentioned as “Chiao Ti” in texts that refer back over 3000 years. The Shuai Chiao characters in Chinese literally mean, “Throwing – Horns”: the earliest fighters were reputed to have worn horned helmets, and the rapid open arm movements of the style made the powerful movements appear like a clash of horned beasts.

Shuai Chiao was considered basic training for soldiers in China for thousands of years. The art is designed for survival in the chaos of the battlefield – – powerful throws and strikes, but little ground fighting, since struggling down on the ground could be fatal with multiple attackers. Over the centuries, Shuai Chiao has stayed true to its roots, while gaining sophistication.

Modern Shuai Chiao is often called “the practical application of Tai Chi Chuan,” with the same evasive techniques: blending with, then overcoming, an attacker’s force. While the emphasis for beginning student is on the throwing methods, Shuai Chiao students also practice punching and kicking. Most of the classic throws are demonstrated from a punching, kicking, or grabbing attack, and use “chin-na” joint grasping or locking techniques instead of depending on a grip on a jacket. These characteristics make this ancient art a very effective form of self-defense in modern times.

Shuai Chiao Throw

Chinese Swai Jiao (Shuai Jiao/Shuai Chiao) is one of China’s national arts that have a very long history. Ancient Swai Jiao has been called many names: Jiao Li (Horn Strength), Jiao Ti (Horn Defense), and later in Japan known as Sumo Wrestling (Xiang Pu in Chinese). Eventually during the 20th century, it became standardized by the name Swai Jiao also known as Shuai Chiao and/or Shuai Jiao.

History: The origins of Shuai-Chiao are as old as these of Chinese civilization itself. Since time immemorial, man has fought, and his most basic fighting instinct has always been to grapple. This is evidenced by ancient artwork from cultures around the world, depicting combat through some sort of grappling.

Chin Dynasty (246 BC ~ 207 BC): The earliest recorded dynasty, the Chin (or Qin) Dynasty lasted from 246 BC to 207 BC. It was also the shortest Chinese Dynasty, lasting only during the reign of one monarch – the legendary Chin Shih-Huang Di. Chin Shih-Huang was known for his remarkable cruelty and ironhanded rule.

He ordered the first burning of books, the construction of the Great Wall (which protected China’s Northern borders from the invasion of barbarians), and the legalist school of Chinese philosophy. Chin Shih-Huang kept his military strong, and combat training was emphasized during his short reign.

Yuan Dynasty (1277 ~ 1367): The Mongol hordes were the great Asian Conquerors of early history, leaving their mark on cultures from Eastern Europe to the Pacific Ocean. These great conquerors had a nomadic lifestyle that promoted combat skills for all males. Their tribal games revolved around the so-called 3 Masculine Sports: Horsemanship, archery, and wrestling.

Mongolian Wrestling, also known as Boke, or Bokh in the Mongol tongue, is a rugged hand-to-hand sport, relying more on raw physical power than a wide variety of techniques. Historically, Mongolian Wrestling is reputed to have influenced Chinese wrestling with its power techniques.

Great Grand Master Chang Tung Shuai Chiao

The basic premise behind Bokh is to force an opponent to touch any part of their body other than the feet to the ground, placing them in a position of inferiority. This kind of training served the Mongol hordes well in their conquests, earning them a reputation as fierce soldiers on foot and on horseback. It was this type of military might that allowed Ganghis Khan to Conquer China at the end of the Sung Dynasty in 1127.

Ming Dynasty (1277 ~ 1367): The Ming Dynasty was the re-establishment of Chinese Sovereignty, following the Mongol conquest. During this time, some of China’s martial arts began to flourish abroad, and Shuai-Chiao also made its presence felt overseas. Chen Yuan-Ping is credited for bringing Shuai-Chiao to Japan. His intimate knowledge of Shuai-Chiao’s joint locks, controls, takedowns, and throws formed the basis of what became Jiu-Jitsu, which later evolved into Judo and Aikido.

Ching Dynasty (1644 ~ 1911): At the fall of the Ming Dynasty, China once again fell into the hands of outsiders- this time, the Manchus. Calling their dynasty the Ching (Qing) Dynasty, the Manchus were ultimately responsible for the partitioning of China by foreign powers at the turn of the 20th Century. Nonetheless, Shuai-Chiao still enjoyed an era of progress and development. In the modern era, there were two great masters who brought Shuai-Chiao’s legacy into the forefront of Chinese combat arts.

The earliest Chinese term for wrestling, “jǐao dǐ” (horn butting), refers to an ancient sport in which contestants wore horned headgear with which they attempted to butt their opponents. Legend states that “jiao di” was used in 2697 BC by the Yellow Emperor’s army to gore the soldiers of a rebel army led by Chi You. In later times, young people would play a similar game, emulating the contests of domestic cattle, without the headgear. Jiao di has been described as an originating source of wrestling and latter forms of martial arts in China.

“Jiao li” (角力) was a grappling martial art that was developed in the Zhou Dynasty (between the twelfth and third century BCE). An official part of Zhou military’s training program under the order of the king, jiao li is generally considered to be the oldest existing Chinese martial art and is among the oldest systematic martial arts in the world. Jiao li supplemented throwing techniques with strikes, blocks, joint locks and attacks on pressure points. These exercises were practiced in the winter by soldiers who also practiced archery and studied military strategy.

Shuai Chiao History

Jiao li eventually became a public sport in the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BCE), held for court amusement as well as for recruiting the best fighters. Competitors wrestled each other on a raised platform called a “leitai” for the potential reward of being hired as a bodyguard to the emperor or a martial arts instructor for the Imperial Military. Some contests would last a week or so, with over a thousand participants. Jiao li was taught to soldiers in China over many centuries and its popularity among the Manchu military guaranteed its influence on later Chinese martial arts through the end of the Qing dynasty.

The term “shuai jiao” was chosen by the Goushu Institute of Nanjing in 1928 when competition rules were standardized. Today, shuai jiao is popular with the Mongols, where it is called “böhke,” who hold competitions regularly during cultural events. The art continues to be taught in the police and military academies of China.

Translation: The word “shuai,” æ‘”, stands for “to throw onto the ground”, while “jiao” may be one of two characters: the first and oldest, 角, stands for “horns” and the second and recent, è·¤, stands for “wrestle or trip using the legs”. Shuai jiao therefore means either “to throw onto the ground using horns” or “to throw onto the ground through wrestling with legs”.

If one is figurative rather than literal with the translation of “horns” it could be interpreted to connote raw, animal-like competition. This more figurative translation yields a third possible translation of the term shuai jiao as meaning “competing to throw”.

Concepts: The concepts of Combat Shuai-Chiao include kicks, strikes, throws, and locks. The purpose of every move in this art is to take down opponent quickly using any means: Knockdowns, locks, or throws. However, we emphasize more on throwing techniques simply because it is the more devastating and practical; however, also most difficult to learn. There are two types of competition of Shuai – Chiao: Traditional and Combat. In a Traditional competition, only throws could be used. Combat or Full Body competition allows kicking, punching, and throwing.