Shuai jiao (Chinese: 摔跤 or 摔角; pinyin: Shuāijiāo; Wade–Giles: Shuai-chiao) is the general Mandarin Chinese term for wrestling. As a generic name, it may be used to cover various styles of wrestling practised in China in the form of a martial arts system or a sport. The narrower term pertains to wrestling styles of the North China Plain. The art was introduced to Southern China in Republican era after 1911.
The earliest Chinese term for wrestling, "jǐao dǐ" (角抵, 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 first referenced in the Classic of Rites during the Zhou Dynasty. 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.
Jiao li eventually became a public sport held for court amusement as well as for recruiting the best fighters. Competitors wrestled each other on a raised platform called a "lei tai" for the potential reward of being hired as a bodyguard to the emperor or a martial arts instructor for the Imperial Military. Jiao li was taught to soldiers in China over many centuries and its popularity among the military guaranteed its influence on later Chinese martial arts through the end of the Qing dynasty.
The term "shuai jiao" was chosen by the Central Guoshu Academy (Zhong Yang Guo Shu Guan 中央國術館) of Nanjing in 1928 when competition rules were standardized . The art continues to be taught in the police and military academies of China.
The word "shuai," 摔, stands for "to throw onto the ground", while "jiao" may be one of two characters: the first and older, 角, stands for "horns" and the second and recent, 跤, stands for "wrestle or trip using the legs". In modern Chinese Shuai Jiao is always written using the more recent characters 跤, and should be translated as "to throw onto the ground through wrestling with legs". The use of the character 角 is because in the earliest form of Shuaijiao, players wore helmet with horns and head-butting was allowed. This form of Shuaijiao is called 'Ciyou Xi'.
Styles of Shuaijiao
Shuaijiao can be divided into the following styles:
Beijing Style (北京) - This is in essence the lineage from the Manchu Buku style that was practised by the Imperial Guards Brigade, Shan Pu Ying (善扑营, literally the Expert in Wrestling Unit). The main characteristic is the use of the legs to kick and off-balance opponents, and the use of arm locks.
Tianjin Style (天津) - This is the lineage of Ming Dynasty Shuaijiao mixed with Manchu Buku (布庫). The main characteristic is the use of legs to kick and off-balance, and the use of forearms in blocking and striking.
Baoding Style (保定) - This is the lineage that is called Kuai Jiao (快跤) or "Fast Wrestling". The main characteristic is the fast application of technique. Another characteristic is the adaptation of Shaolin Quan from Ping Jingyi, a famous teacher of Shuaijiao who learned Shaolin style from the Meng family of Nanguan County even though he was a Muslim Hui.
The above three styles are sometimes called Hebei Style (河北) Shuaijiao or simply Shuaijiao. Wrestlers wear a jacket called Da Lian.
Shanxi Style (山西) - This is the lineage of Song Dynasty Shuaijiao. It is mainly practised in the counties between the mining city of Datong in northern Shanxi and the provincial capital Taiyuan in central Shanxi. The main characteristic is leg catching techniques, as traditionally wrestlers wear only tight knee-length pants.
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Notes and references
- Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Chinese Language, entry 35831.82
- Chinese Fast Wrestling for Fighting, Liang, Shou-Yu and Tai D. Ngo, ISBN 1-886969-49-3
- Journal of Asian Martial Arts Volume 15, No. 1, 2006. Via Media Publishing, Erie Pennsylvania USA. ISSN 1057-8358
- ShuaijiaoNation.com Online Community
- United States Shuai Chiao Association
- European Shuai Jiao Union
- British Shuai Jiao Union
- Institute for Chinese Martial Arts
- San Diego Shuai Chiao
- Shuai Jiao Skills on Video
- Combat Shuai Chiao
- World Shuai Chiao Society: Shuai Chiao
- Mongolian Shuai Jiao Association: Shuai Chiao
- Niteroi Shaolin Kung Fu Association
- Shuai Chiao Association