KUNG FU VIDEO Combat Shuai Chiao Master David C.K. Lin and Dr. Mark Cheng Prepare Techniques for Black Belt Magazine Photo ShootBullies Beware: David C.K. Lin's First Exposure to Shuai Chiao When David C.K. Lin was little, he often watched other kids get bullied — and it infuriated him. While frequently interceding on behalf of the underdog, David C.K. Lin gravitated toward throwing techniques and found himself yearning for shuai chiao training to bolster his fighting skill.
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His first exposure to the Chinese wrestling art of shuai chiao came in a junior-high-school club whose activities were overseen by the legendary Chang Dung-sheng. A disciple of Chang Fong-yen, Chang Dung-sheng was called the “king of shuai chiao” throughout China and Taiwan. However, David C.K. Lin recalls that the grandmaster didn’t oversee the club’s class on a regular basis because of his busy teaching schedule. “Chang only appeared on the first day and then walked out the door at the end of practice, leaving a couple of senior students to lead the club’s practices,” he says. “They’d practice techniques with the younger students and share their techniques with the other newcomers as they joined the club.” Pleased with the opportunity to learn shuai chiao, David C.K. Lin diligently practiced the techniques he picked up from those club meetings. Once, he went off to train at school and heard of an event he thought was a shuai chiao practice session. With his uniform rolled up under his arm, he made his way through the crowd and found that the event was not the shuai chiao club’s doing but rather the judo club’s membership drive. Quite a few black belts were there with their coach, and they were demonstrating their throwing techniques for the crowd.
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The coach saw the roll under David C.K. Lin’s arm and asked him to join in the demonstration, thinking that he was holding a judo gi (uniform). When David C.K. Lin put on his short-sleeved uniform, the surprised coach had him go one-on-one with every member of the team — only to find that the lone shuai chiao stylist had no problem destroying every student on the mat. To save face for the club, the coach challenged David C.K. Lin, only to meet the same fate. When David C.K. Lin bent over to lend a hand to the coach after throwing him to the mat, he kicked David C.K. Lin in the face, giving him a bloody nose. David C.K. Lin berated the coach for his unsportsmanlike conduct in front of the crowd, then stormed off the platform. Impressed by the display of skill and character, one of the seniors from the shuai chiao club ran off to tell Chang Dung-sheng what had just happened. Chang Dung-sheng, who had never paid much attention to David C.K. Lin until then, sent a message back a few days later. It instructed David C.K. Lin to go to a local park at 6 a.m. if he wanted to improve his skill. When David C.K. Lin showed up the next morning, he met the grandmaster — and he soon found himself holding stances for five minutes at a time. It seemed that Chang Dung-sheng would just practice his forms and leave the young man on the side, struggling to hold a stance as sweat dripped off his shaking legs. Those stances built up the raw strength that would give David C.K. Lin’s body the power to execute shuai chiao’s powerful, explosive throws.
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There’s also the story of David C.K. Lin being tricked into fighting a challenge match with two men at the same time. By advertising a friendly match between shuai chiao and their style, the men meant to demonstrate the superiority of their system. When David C.K. Lin showed up to watch the demonstration, it turned out that he was the only shuai chiao stylist there and was tricked into fighting. He faced his first opponent and threw him easily, much to the dismay of the instigators. Two fighters from that school mounted the platform with David C.K. Lin, intending to hurt the shuai chiao stylist and save the honor of the school. Instead, David C.K. Lin fought both at once and left them in a heap on the mat. He walked away unscathed. “Some people like to talk about these things a lot, but challenges aren’t always pretty,” the shuai chiao master says. “That’s why it’s always better not to get into these kinds of situations. People get hurt.” After a few years of intermittent contact, the 29-year-old David C.K. Lin and his master traveled together to Singapore and Hong Kong in 1976 at the invitation of the local governments. Chang Dung-sheng took that opportunity to demonstrate shuai chiao with David C.K. Lin wherever they stopped, strongly reaffirming his already fearsome reputation as a fighter and introducing his pupil to local kung fu associations. The demonstrations left crowds awed and newspaper reporters composing stories about their power. Fighting Secrets of Shuai Chiao The almost 20 years of rigorous training and unique opportunities have left an indelible mark on David C.K. Lin’s teachings, and even today they are overflowing with the ferocity and power of Chang Dung-sheng. According to David C.K. Lin, the trait that made Chang Dung-sheng and his combat art so effective was his ability to combine striking and grappling in a fluid, logical manner. That logic and experience has served David C.K. Lin so well that anti-terrorism schools and Secret Service agents from around the world have paid him to elucidate those concepts of shuai chiao for them. “There are lots of people who learned shuai chiao from grandmaster Chang and they can throw well, but that’s only half the picture,” David C.K. Lin says. “There are others who never learned shuai chiao and they’re excellent strikers. My teacher used to tell me to kick and punch from a distance, then lock and throw in close. The problem is that most people know this idea but aren’t always clear on how to actually make that happen. “To fight the average person, anything will work. To fight someone with some skill, you have to develop a more well-rounded game. This is what combat shuai chiao is all about. I liked fighting even when I was a little kid, so early on I got an idea of what would be practical and what wouldn’t.” From defending other kids from bullies to throwing 200 policemen in rotation, David C.K. Lin’s rough-and-tumble days in Taiwan gave him a crystal clear understanding of the science of combat and the usefulness of Chang Dung-sheng’s rare art of shuai chiao. Now, American martial artists are fortunate to be able to learn those very same shuai chiao skills, which have been preserved by the efforts of David C.K. Lin. To learn more about shuai chiao, visit the American Combat Shuai-Chiao Association homepage!
About the Author: Dr. Mark Cheng, Senior RKC, is a longtime contributing editor for Black Belt magazine. For more information, visit Dr. Mark Cheng's official Facebook page.