Do you want to practice your throws, but no one wants to be thrown? Are your training partners just not interested in taking the punishment so you can get your moves down? Wouldn’t it be great to have a throwing partner who never gets tired, never gets sore, and is always up for one more throw? Well, the shuai chiao one-sided rock pole may just become your new training partner.
Shuai chiao is a modern fighting style built on thousands of years of Klingon-like contests in Northern China and Mongolia. Many of the ethnic groups in the region have their own variations of shuai chiao skills, as its training produced skills that were immediately available and therefore popular as a form of self-defense and entertainment. Technical skills similar to those contained in shuai chiao can be found in
Mongolian boke, Korean ssireum, Japanese sumo and judo, and even Russian sambo, Scottish backhold wrestling and Swiss schwingen. For many, fighting in the dirt pits of the northern steppes of China was a way to build true combat skills against opponents who were eager to defeat them.
For thousands of years shuai chiao, its antecedents and cousins, flourished tftf BlAI as one of the A primary training methods for combat skills. As a form of jacketed wrestling, shuai chiao was easily modified to full-contact usage, and is often seen as the root of Chinese quan or fist styles.
In the modern era, shuai chiao as a martial art reached its apex of development at the Central Nanking Martial Arts Institute, which was founded in 1927. There, General Ma Liang wrote a textbook called, Neiu Martial Arts -Shuai Chiao, and featured shuai chiao techniques combined with striking techniques.
According to master David Lin, this development reached its high point when Chong Feng-Yen became the head coach at the Nanking Institute. Many great fighters were produced in this era, including the legendary Chang Tung Sheng, who was known as The Flying Butterfly, because of his gflB remarkable throwing ability. It was master Chane’s stu-dents who brought this art one-sided rock pole looks like something out of a picture book of old-time strongman tools. And it is, only these strongmen were interested in throwing you. Originally constructed of a metal or wooden rod about two inches thick, with a concrete wheel on the bottom, the modern version is constructed of two-inch circumference galvanized pipe, welded to a 20-pound (for beginners) weight plate. A length of string is tied around the pipe and stretches out about two feet. This simple, unassuming tool can help you get to the top of your throwing game.
Imagine the Possibilities
True to shuai chiao philosophy, the many ways you can practice with the one-sided rock pole are limited only by your imagination. But it is important that one not attempt to use this device without an experienced instructor’s guidance; misuse can result in crippling injury or even death.
Let’s focus on some skills that readily apply to basic throws in shuai chiao and how you can use the one-sided rock pole to improve your skills. We’ll cover four methods: steal step to chopping; waist control lift; steal step to reaping; and shaving.
A quick technical note before we begin: shuai chiao uses many strategies that evolve from its overall doctrine. One of these theories is the fixed hand and moving hand. This concept is important, not only in executing throws, but also in avoiding serious injury when practicing with the onesided rock pole. The theory works like this: When you engage an opponent, one limb will either create a fulcrum or lock the opponent’s body onto a fulcrum created by some other part of the body. The other limb applied is the moving hand. Not being locked in — keep in mind that being locked in is a momentary action — it is free to choose its attack and manipulate the opponent in the most efficient way possible. Completion of the throw merely requires the transfer of the rest of the kinetic force.
Steal Step to Chopping
The steal step maneuver is often to the United States.
During the heyday of shuai chiao’s development at the Nanking Institute, many fist styles were incorporated into the practice of shuai chiao.
This method continues today, as shuai chiao offers a unique training methodology and set of principles that allow the skilled practitioner to learn from experience and adjust his skills to fit his ability and temperament. Shortcut To Skills
This author studied under Dr. Brian Wu, a master shuai chiao instructor who was a student of Chang Tung Sheng. In Dr. Wu’s shuai chiao club, the training hall was filled with experienced martial artists from a wide variety of systems, such as long fist, northern shaolin, xing-yi, and even southern praying mantis, who were seeking to improve their combative skills. This unique Chinese precursor to mixed martial arts attracted skilled players because it truly was the shortcut to good martial art skills. You can see many quan methods mixed in with the combat shuai chiao, which were then given room on the fighting floor to test its effectiveness. Combat shuai chiao offers a complete methodology and teaches the student how to fish rather than just giving him a diet of techniques. Once the principle is understood, the options are endless. And the proof of your effort is found on the mat.
Dr. Wu always taught that there was more to training than the technique; that you must understand the idea behind it and try the idea out in free fighting. But to be successful in free fighting, you need to develop the right attributes to pull off the technique. Here is where we come back to our friend, the one-sided role pole.
Shuai chiao is an art that focuses on high velocity. However, throwing obviously has limitations; you can only throw your training partners so many times, and when no one is around, how do you get practice? Well, the long line of skilled players that have gone before us have left a rich legacy of training methods designed to help the shuai chiao exponent do just that. At its surface, the
Choy lay fut kung-fu is a martial art infinite in its variety of techniques. Steeped in theory, it draws from its roots of both southern and northern styles.
Yin/yang is one such theory adapted by choy lay fut. This balance of opposites provides an effective and skillful strategy. Hard and soft, inner and outer, upper and lower, and flexible and solid are examples of choy lay fut’s yin/yang strategies. These strategies overlap and support each other, demonstrating the strength of balancing opposite forces. An example of this balancing of forces in choy lay fut is lau-da or leaking attack, which means not using force to fight force. Rather, it is the practice of utilizing the opponent’s force to your own advantage.
It is only to advanced practitioners that this balance of opposites becomes natural and free. This freedom and flow makes choy lay fut a well- respected and practical fighting style.
Master Tat-Mau Wong, one of the most-honored choy lay fut masters in the world, has experienced first hand the effectiveness and power of this style. In his days as a Hong Kong and Southeast Asian Full-Contact Fighting champion, he dominated the ring with choy lay fut techniques.
S students worldwide.
When discussing his days as a fuii-contact fighter, Wong states, Because of choy lay fut’s versatility it worked well against any style of martial arts. Along with the principle theory of llau-da,’ choy lay fut is distinct in that there are no fixed set of techniques that are only offensive or only defensive. A block becomes a strike. A strike becomes a block. This makes it hard to characterize a choy lay fut fighter — their actions or reactions are difficult to detect as they manipulate their opponent. Building Blocks
The foundation for this seemingly unlimited combination of actions is the ten elements of choy lay fut. These ten elements are the fundamentals, the building blocks, the very heart and soul of the style. It is a common misconception that the elements are actually single tech-niques, Wong explains. The elements are simply a theory of action behind the hundreds of individual techniques.
For example, chum, the first element, is often mistaken solely for the technique chum qu. Chum describes the movement of any downward block- ing or striking motion. Chum qu, hooking the wrist with the outside edge, is just one technique of the chum element.
The classification of techniques for the elements is complex. Each tech-nique can have a variety of features and applications. Therefore, many tech-niques can fit under the category of more than one element. For example, the pak choi, an inward hammerfist, can be used at several different angles, giving it the components of cup, sau and chum. Instead often single uncom-plicated movements, the elements are actually ten resources from which to pull an unlimited series of techniques.
The ten elements of choy lay fut kung-fu are: Chum — Any downward movement. The action can be applied straight down, at an angle, or be circu-ar in nature as used in a throwing technique.
Because these movements utilize the forces of gravity, chum techniques can be damaging. For example, pole yik sao or flapping crane hand; chum jong or downward elbow strike; and gough-sao or cutting knifehand.
Lah — Claw-like seizing and controlling usually attacking an opponent’s joints or pressure points. Grappling techniques fall under the lah element. Lah techniques employ a seamless flow of pulling, twisting and thrusting actions. When applied properly, they can fell an opponent and cause joint dislocation. Examples include: seung lap
sao or double seizing hand; chin nau or crane block; and fu jow or tiger claw.
Gwa — The translation of the word gwa means ‘hanging, as in the action of hanging clothes on a hook. Gwa is an arching movement that starts from an inside position and accelerates outward, using the waist to generate power. Gwa can be both short and long range. Used as a short- range technique, gwa is a quick reaction for both defense and offense. Long-range gwa techniques are generated from the waist to deliver an even more-devastating impact. Examples include: gwa choi or backfist; poon qu com jeung or open-hand whip with downward palm strike; and biu lean toi or crescent kick.
Sau — A circular movement beginning from an outside position generating its force inward. Sau can be both short and long range. The short- range techniques are effective as a quick action or response. Although not as impactful as long-range techniques, the short-range action can quickly and easily vary its attacks or blocks. Sau’s long-range version generates tremendous force and speed similar to that of a rock at the end of a rope.
For example, the renowned choy lay fut technique of sau choi is often used as a knockout technique. Examples include: sau choi or circular punch; lam choi or knuckle punch; and kau ton seung toy jeung or sweep-swings over, direct the top of the pole through the middle of your legs.
Steal Step to Reaping
This combination effectively uses the same footwork as elbow lock with chopping, but utilizes a reap-ing motion instead of a chopping motion with the legs. Reaping takes the opponent airborne — and as long as you maintain good control — lit-erally puts his fate in your hands. First, steal step into your opponent, then apply a reaping motion with the leg. It is important when practicing this throw to make sure your hip gets below your opponent’s and floats through his center of gravity as you throw him. The one-sided rock pole makes it easy to vary the height of your entry, so you can practice with opponents of varying size.
Shaving is a quick throw, which takes the opponent down quickly and docs not require tremendous commitment to set up. There are many variations of shaving, where you grab an opponent’s belt or employ a headbutt to finish the throw. To practice the shaving skill with the one-sided rock pole, stand in front of the pole in a ready position. Then, suddenly grab the top of the pole and wrap your leg around the pole.
As your leg wraps, your heel locks onto the pole and you swing it down and through the legs. Unlike other practice methods, this does not as closely match the throw itself, but the specialized practice of passing the one-sided rock pole through your legs helps build the attributes to train this effective throw.
The one-sided rock pole can also be used for leg strengthening or for exercises that require the pole to be hung from a tree limb. Rich in train-ing skills, combat shuai chiao is a fighting method designed to help the student build the attributes he needs to be successful in free fighting. The one-sided rock pole is a training partner that will help you explore the many hidden attributes shuai chiao has to offer.
Name: Master Tat-Mau Wong Birthplace: Kowloon, Hong Kong Residence: San Francisco, Calif.
Instructor: Grandmaster Lee Koon Hung Styles: Choy lay fut kung-fu. Also has degrees in judo, tae kwon do, Chinese medicine and acupuncture Achievements: 1972-78 Hong Kong/Southeast Asian Full-Contact Fighting Champion; 1997 Inside Kung-Fu Man of the Year; November 13th San Francisco Master Tat-Mau Wong Day CONTACT: