History and Style Guide of Shuai Jiao Introduction:
When China’s Yellow Emperor Huangdi took the throne in 2698 B.C., one has to wonder if he knew what the impact of his actions would be on history. You see, he invented a style of wrestling that involved horned helmets called Horn Butting or Jiao Di for his troops. Imagine the intimidation a troop of men coming to kill you with horns on their head could muster. Anyway, jiao di would serve as the basis of many martial arts styles, including shuai jiao, as it was really the first formal martial arts type invented in China, making it one of the oldest in the world. Now that's impact.
Shuai Jiao History:
Jiao di came to be during the reign of the Yellow Emperor in China for military purposes. Speaking of the military, records indicate the army actually used the horned headgear of jiao di to gore a rebel army to death in 2697. Gruesome. Later, this throwing style, changed to jiao li, would include joint locks, strikes, and blocks, and would even became a sport during the Qin Dynasty.
Jiao li competitions took place on a leitai or raised platform, and winners could often count on becoming bodyguards or instructors of the Imperial Military. Jiao li would form the basis of the style we now know as shuai jiao.
The Name Shuai Jiao:
The Central Guoshu Academy of Nanjing decided on the name Shuai Jiao in 1928 when competition rules were standardized. The term shuai actually means "to throw onto the ground", which correctly identifies shuai jiao as a primarily throwing art (meaning practitioners learn to take opponents to the ground). The word jiao can mean one of two things. In the past, it meant "horns," but these days also may stand for "wrestle or trip using the legs." Therefore, in modern times shuai jiao translates in the following manner: "to throw onto the ground through wrestling with legs."
Basic Goals of Shuai Jiao:
Throughout this style guide, you'll see references to shuai jiao being a wrestling style. Not in the classical sense, however. Shuai jiao competition rules, which are basically thrown out in real fighting situations of course, indicate that for the most part if any part of the body other than the feet touch the ground, a practitioner loses. Hence, the goal of shuai jiao is to throw or trip one's opponent to the ground, not to wrestle with them on the ground.
The Garb of Shuai Jiao:
In the past, competitors used horned helmets. Later, they began to fight bare-chested. These days, heavy quilted canvas cotton jackets are usually worn along with martial arts pants and wrestling boots, depending on the style in question.
Baoding Style: Also called Kuai Jiao or Fast Wrestling. Obviously, what separates this style of shuai jiao is the speed with which techniques are applied. Beijing Style: Straight from the Imperial Palace Guard Manchu Buku style, the Beijing style is characterized by using the legs to knock opponents off balance. Tianjin Style: Considered a rougher style than the Beijing variety, the Tianjin Style uses kicks to a great extent to knock opponent's off balance. It emanates from Ming Dynasty and Manchu Buku lineage. The similarities between the Beijing, Tianjin and Baoding styles cause them to sometimes be called Hebei Style Shuaijiao or simply Shuaijiao. Shanxi Style: This style emanates from Song Dynasty Shuaijiao. It is practiced in the counties between Datong in northern Shanxi and Taiyuan in central Shanxi. What sets the Shanxi style apart is the use of leg catching techniques. Mongol Style: Comes from the lineage of Mongol Boke. Xinjiang Style: This one comes from a variety of Turkish styles of wrestling. The utilization of waist techniques sets it apart.