Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chinese Spec-Ops Combatives

Back in the day when relations between Nationalist Chinese Taiwan & Communist Mainland China were at their diciest (immediately following the Communist Revolution), both sides were eagerly in pursuit of anything that would give them the combative edge over their rival. My parents had to flee the mainland because of the war, and they had no shortage of vignettes to tell me about the atrocities that one Chinese committed on another during those dark years.

In spite of the hundreds of martial styles and schools that were at the disposal of both Chairman Mao and Generalissimo Chiang, I understand that both men employed high level Shuai-Chiao experts in the training of their most elite special operations troops. Shuai-Chiao is the most primitive of the Chinese martial arts and perhaps the most tested by sparring and real-world combat. The last undisputed king of Shuai-Chiao, Grandmaster Chang Tung-Sheng, was known to have killed men in combat with nothing more than his Shuai-Chiao skills. This art is no place for theoreticians.

Yet in spite of its viciousness, Shuai-Chiao is a remarkably complete system of physical culture. The fundamental training methods include a yogic system that strengthens & aligns the body, in addition to power training methods that include everything from twisting reeds and holding bricks to training with stone padlocks, which function like Chinese kettlebells.

The combative side of Shuai-Chiao is full featured as far as stand-up arts go. With kicking, punching, throwing, and joint manipulation, and because of its emphasis on NOT going to the ground, Shuai-Chiao is a remarkable system that goes well with the multiple-attacker realities of modern troop warfare and civilian self-defense.

Combat Shuai-Chiao was systematized in the 1990s and headed by Headmaster David C.K. Lin, who is my teacher. Master Lin taught the Spec Ops troops in Taiwan until he immigrated to the US, at which time he was retained as a Hand-to-Hand instructor for counter-terrorism operatives. He was the preferred demonstration partner for his master, the late Grandmaster Chang Tung-Sheng. In the picture above, Master Lin's got me hurtling toward the ground with both of my arms trapped. That's Shuai-Chiao.

Legendary martial arts icon, Guro Daniel Inosanto, has said that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu's ground game with the power throws and takedowns of Shuai-Chiao would be an unstoppable blend. And unlike many other grappling arts, Shuai-Chiao is predicated off of dealing with a striking opponent. There's no sudden shock of training against someone only grabbing your gi and then dealing with an opponent who's punching your lips into the next county. While you may not train all the time at full-force and full-contact in Shuai-Chiao, you still train against what you're going to have to face in real life: hair grabs, eye gouges, punches, kicks, headbutts, and weapons.

In addition to the Hard Style Kettlebell Masterclasses, I'll be teaching Combat Shuai-Chiao workshops in both Scotland & New Zealand. Timewise, this is going to be the bulk of what I'm scheduled to be teaching in Auckland. And it looks like I'm going to give a "surprise" workshop for the Combat Ready class right after I land in Scotland.

Nice to know that no matter what I achieve in the world of Kettlebell instruction, I still have a home and deep roots in martial arts! Off to Scotland in a few hours! Bring your Advil!


Boris said...

That looks awesome Doc. I'm very jealous of Rannoch et. al.

Rannoch Donald RKC said...

Damn Right Boris! This is where the action is this weekend. You'd be more than welcome were it not sold out!

Rannoch "Lucky" Donald

jcaorlando said...

I would love to train in this system, as it looks to be very combative and effective. The self training is amazing, belt snapping, footwork drills, something I have never seen in Judo. Too bad there are few instructors!

Jeff said...

Would anyone happen to know of a shuai jiao school in Orange County? I currently study mantis under Sifu John Cheng, and I think focusing on shuai jiao this summer would really help me.