Shuai jiao
Take downs

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Take downs

Shuai jiao is believed to be the world's oldest martial art. It is a straightforward
martial art skill that can be acquired rapidly and employed pragmatically in a variety of situations.
Students explore:

  1. Escape from locks & holds

  2. Take the opponent to the floor quickly

  3. Cope with an attack whilst on the ground

  4. Combat throws

Stand alone or incorporated

As a style of combat, shuai jiao can be practiced in its own right or as an aspect of other systems. Tai chi
forms feature countless shuai jiao applications.

Martial art

We teach shuai jiao for combat. There are no competitions, weight categories etc. All martial students learn shuai jiao as they proceed through the syllabus.

Reasonable force

Reasonable force means that you only do what you need to do in order to defend yourself. This is an ambiguous notion, so be careful. Shuai jiao is ideal for this.
The aim is not to strike somebody or break bones. Instead: w
ind them, embarrass them, dissuade them, make them fall to the ground. Do only what is necessary and then walk away.

The way most people do tai chi, it's not a martial art. They could never use it the way they're doing it. Everything's in their hands, they just fill in the rest with fantasy talk.

 (Paul Gale)

'Internal' shuai jiao

'Internal' shuai jiao uses the fighting skills attained in pushing hands: balance, listening, rhythm, stickiness and timing. Various jing skills can also be used.
The applications are performed in a smooth, fluid manner. There is no struggling or fighting. There is no time to breakfall. Shuai jiao is not used to escape locks and holds.

External' shuai jiao

Not all shuai jiao in the world is internal. It is often taught as an external system; akin to judo. Force, tension and aggression are used. There are even fighting competitions.
Shuai jiao is used to escape locks and holds. This is not what we teach.

3 levels of skill

Students work through 3 levels of shuai jiao application:

  1. Fixed

  2. Flowing

  3. Freeform

Fixed applications are taught to 'skilled' students. Flowing and freeform come later.

Do we teach techniques?

No. A technique is a step-by-step formula for addressing a particular type of attack. The purpose of shuai jiao applications is different.
Students discover how to manipulate and manoeuvre their opponents body in an effective, comfortable, flowing, natural fashion. The principles used can be applied to a variety of different attacks.

Tai chi fighting method

In terms of combat, tai chi does not put shuai jiao first. More energy efficient methods are preferred:

  1. Striking

  2. Chin na

  3. Shuai jiao

There are a vast range of striking methods and four main areas of chin na skill. Shuai jiao tends to be used by the more nimble and flexible exponent.

Spur of the moment

As a student advances through the our syllabus, their responses should become spontaneous and easy. The appropriate application should emerge without contrivance or conscious thought.
Eventually, the student switches very rapidly between shuai jiao, chin na and striking. This enables fast counter-attacks; with the exponent changing tactics unpredictably and effectively.

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Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 23 October 2023