Workshop 5: Kids vs. Shuai Jiao

by | Nov 26, 2022

Only 1 lessons to go…. Instead of blogging weekly, I decided to skip a few weeks and will write something when it is gets interested. I had made the switch to teaching groups 6 and 8 and this weeks lesson was all about doing some Shuai Jiao


Shuai Jiao explained in a nutshell!

Instead of doing weekly Kungfu, I had decided to do some Shuai Jiao instead. But before I would tell you something about how and what we did in the lessons, let me explain in a nutshell what Shuai Jiao is. For those who are really interested.

Shuai Jiao or when translated into a more English sentence is a modern interpretation of a wrestling style which has is origins in China. If we look at the martial arts history within China, that goes back for a couple thousand years. “Shoubo” (‘Hand wrestling’) or “Jiao Di ” (‘Horn butting’) was a first attempt of a systematic way of fighting each other in a “hand to hand’ combat. It included a lot of trowing ” Shuai ” techniques. If you read the old textbooks, or the ones about the “Shaolin History” you noticed that it was also shown as a form of entertainment at the emperors court during the Tang dynasty (618 till 907). Some say or claim it was another particular style of Kungfu, when others say it was not. In my opinion Shuai Jiao is a wrestling and not a Kungfu style. Yes, indeed we can see movements that look similar to the Kungfu style you practice, but do not all styles have this!. Wrestling each other goes further back then the Shaolin martial arts so we can assume that this system of fighting is much older.

I already mentioned, that the system included 4 major techniques called: Shou bo (‘Hand wrestling’) (Da 打, Ti 踢, Na 舒, and Shuai 摔), meaning, box with hands, box with feet, seizing and throwing.” Wrestling during this time period (Tang) was not only practiced in mainland China, but also in its neighboring countries like Mongolia. The Mongolia empire ruled over en large part of China once, so a lot of wrestling influence was present. Bökh wrestling is the Mongolia nations traditional wrestling arts. It was used in the old days to improve a soldiers way of getting a better feeling into fighting. I think the same purpose can be applied to China.

Shuai Jiao is a more modern given name, to China’s only wrestling related style. China today, is highly recognized by its many styles of Kungfu, that can be divided into Shaolin and Wudang schools or extern vs intern. In these arts we fight at a distance, but in Shuai Jiao we do not. We stick to each other like glue.

The main purpose is to always stay upright. Whatever you do don’t go to the ground. You are playing with your opponents balance by applying a systematic way of pulling and pushing techniques. Shuai Jiao has around 36 techniques that can be applied in a endless variety.

Kids doing some controlled “Shuai “

So after I did my, we’ll sort of explanation about “What Shuai Jiao” is, I asked the kids to find themselves a trainingspartner. For most it was easy picking. I had placed some mats on the ground and pointed one of the kids to be my trainingspartner. Fun fact is that 2 weeks earlier, I myself had a 3,5 hour trainings session in Den Haag in techniques that are ideal for beginners and kids. So why not use some of those I thought.

Let’s start with some “controlled falling”. I demonstrated a few ways how to practice this on the mat. You can do it standing up right or already with a bent knee if you want to reduce the hight. Why start with falling you may think! It is in our nature, that when we fall to the ground we automatically try to catch ourself with our hands. Your wrists are getting the full force of your bodyweight, amplified by the speed you are falling. Result is that you are in danger to break bones followed by a big face smack at the ground. There is a much better way to prevent this.

Sweeps and falling combined

With 30 minutes to go I wanted to teach the kids two techniques called: Shou Bie Zi and Guan. Because we already practiced some controlled falling, this would be a perfectly fit. The technique is a simple defend with your arms, followed by connecting the shoulders. One hand is trying to bend the knee of the opponent and with a good push and pull you execute. Done correctly your opponent is falling sideways.

Next was “Guan”. Using this technique is a full body back sweep, You position yourself in a horse stand behind both legs of your opponent. With your shoulders connected, you lift en push him/here backwards over your knee, Falling backwards, when you are not able to see the ground can be scary. In Hung Gar Kuen a southern Shaolin Kungfu style, that I practice we execute this in almost the same way.

Learning how to fall and get up again is important, just like knowing some wresting techniques. When in a real fight you may quickly find yourself sticking to your opponent, not because you want to, but mostly done automatically, (By nature) usually to control . The kids really enjoyed this weeks lesson, but without them knowing the lesson learned was, that in some situations you have no distance to move, but you have to protect yourself. So using a sweep or knowing how to fall can make a big difference.

More information about Shuai Jiao can be found at Shuai Jiao Nederland

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