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Zui quan (Traditional and Simplified Chinese: 醉拳; pinyin: zuìquán) is a concept in traditional Chinese martial arts, as well as a classification of modern Wushu forms. Literally meaning "drunken fist", the term is also commonly translated as drunken boxing or drunkard's boxing. In Chinese it is sometimes called zuijiuquan (Chinese: 醉酒拳; pinyin: zuìjiǔquán, literally "drunken alcohol fist"). The techniques were traditionally considered unsuitable for women due to cultural attitudes regarding excessive drinking among women.
Zui quan is a category of techniques, forms and fighting philosophy that appear to imitate a drunkard's movements. The postures are created by momentum and weight of the body, and imitation is generally through staggering and certain type of fluidity in the movements. It is considered to be among the most difficult wushu styles to learn due to the need for powerful joints and fingers. While in fiction practitioners of zui quan are often portrayed as being actually intoxicated, zui quan techniques are highly acrobatic and skilled and require a great degree of balance and coordination, such that any person attempting to perform any zui quan techniques while intoxicated would be likely to injure themselves.
Even though the style seems irregular and off balance it takes the utmost balance to be successful. To excel one must be relaxed and flow with ease from technique to technique. Swaying, drinking, and falling are used to throw off opponents. When the opponent thinks the drunken boxer is vulnerable he is usually well balanced and ready to strike. When swigging a wine cup the practitioner is really practicing grabbing and striking techniques. The waist movements trick opponents into attacking, sometimes even falling over. Falls can be used to avoid attacks but also to pin attackers to the ground while vital points are targeted.
Zui quan within Chinese martial arts
Many traditional Chinese martial arts utilize drunken techniques and fighting philosophy within forms and techniques. For example:
- Some lineages of Choi Lei Fat contain "drunken" forms and there are also "drunken" segments contained Jow-Ga Kung Fu. Choi Lei Fat drunken technique teaches feints, explosive power generation, swaying motions and various other distraction techniques.
- Houquan or monkey style contains a drunken monkey set.
- Performance wushu contains several exhibition forms known as "drunken" forms, but which bear no actual connection to the forms found in traditional Chinese martial arts.
- Some family styles incorporate drunken techniques. In modern times the Ma family style known as Eight Shadows Fist (ba ying quan) has a large drunken curriculum with a long involved hand form and weapon sets including staff, spear and sword.
- Most lineages of Hung Gar and Hung Fat contain drunken forms.
- Zui quan received mainstream media attention outside of China after the premiere of the Jackie Chan film Drunken Master in 1978. Since then, Drunken Fist has featured in many books, movies, comics, games and television shows.
- In the manga and anime "YuYu Hakusho" the character Chu is famous for his drunken fist technique.
- The videogame characters Lei Wulong of Tekken, Chin Gentsai of The King of Fighters, Li Xiangfei (though in a very simplified, heavily toned-down form) of Fatal Fury series, Bo Rai Cho of Mortal Kombat, Shun Di of Virtua Fighter, and Brad Wong of Dead or Alive all practice zui quan.
- The character Rock Lee from the Naruto series is easily intoxicated, a state which briefly enhances his fighting skill much like the Drunken Master movies.
- The style has also appeared in the 2010 movie True Legend.
- "Six Shaolin Boxing Styles". Shaolin International Federation. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
- "Drunken Kung Fu". Kung Fu Tai Chi Magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
- Chen, Calvin. "Drunken Kung Fu". KungFuMagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-11-13.
- "Choi Lei Fut Drunken Form". The Martialarm.com. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
- "Choi Lei Fut Drunken Boxing". Flying Eagle Martial Arts. Retrieved 2008-04-07.