When it comes to grappling arts most people have heard of Judo, Ju-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Sambo, and Sumo. The dynamic art of Shuaijiao, though it is not as well known as the others, should be.

What is Shuaijiao?

Shuaijiao (also spelled Shuai-Chiao) is a Chinese martial art that is approximately four thousand years old. Shuaijiao was born in a time of warfare long ago when to fall on the battlefield meant likely to never get up, and in that spirit, the curriculum of Shuaijiao focuses on throwing in a variety of ways. It is a standup grappling style, meaning that although there are hip throws, leg sweeps, and hand techniques, like many other arts, there is no ground grappling. The goal of Shuaijiao is to end up in a dominant position standing.

I spoke with Jan-Yu Weng, president of the United States Shui-Chiao Association (USSA) about the goals of the organization as well as for the best definition of Shuaijiao, "It's a stand up grappling martial art from China that can be used as self-defense, a competitive sport, and like any other martial art, a life-long way to stay fit and exercise."

When watching a Shuaijiao match, I think most martial artists familiar with any of the popular grappling styles mentioned previously will see some familiarity and even recognize similar techniques in their styles. As Weng explains, "If you're already a grappler where you're doing Judo or JiuJitsu or wrestling types, Shuaijiao is going to come relatively easy to pick up as those are all complementary systems." Anecdotally, years ago I learned some Shuaijiao techniques, and a decade or two later when I began learning Judo, I noticed some of the throws were remarkably similar.


Shuaijiao Training

Like any martial art, especially grappling styles, practicing with a partner is key. And while there is no substitute for a body, Shuaijiao has some unique solo practice drills that practitioners of other styles, whether grappling styles or not, may want to try, as Weng tells, "We use a lot of apparatus to do our training. One of the most basic ones is our belt, to do what we call belt cracking." The name comes from actually snapping the belt to build up the practitioner's grip and forearms, as well as overall conditioning of the body. "The solo forms, belt cracking, and other apparatus training are all dynamically linked to Shuaijiao techniques. You can train conditioning, timing, strength, with that connection to a technique."


Shuaijiao Competition

Like other grappling styles, Shuaijiao is also a sport and there are national and international competitions. Traditionally, the top national competition for the last 25 years has been held every April in Cleveland Ohio. International competition is held through the World Shuai Jiao Federation (WSJF). The tournaments are held biennially in China and alternating between locations throughout the world including the US, and countries in South America and Europe. While the Covid pandemic has cast a shadow over national and international competition for 2021, check the website below or the Shuaijiao USA Facebook page for information and updates.

The Future

With the popularity of grappling styles growing it makes sense that Shuaijiao should have as good a chance as any at finding students and expanding their reach. That said, there are some challenges as Weng states, "We realize our limitation to growing Shuaijiao in the U.S. is the lack of qualified teachers and schools in more areas around the country. Our desire is to be able to use our digital framework that we're building, as well as have our coaches, begin to reach out and help, and not only build up coaches and teachers but build up healthy schools."

People interested in finding out more about Shuaijiao and how to start training in your area should make contact through the website and Facebook page for online seminars and/or a qualified teacher in your area.

Watch a Great Shuaijiao Match:

2013 Shuai Jiao World Championships at Yixing, China.

Check out their USSA website and Facebook!

Introducing Martial Arts School Listings on Black Belt Mag!
Sign Up Now To Be One Of The First School Listed In Our Database.
Don't miss a single issue of the worlds largest magazine of martial arts.

Two-Time Black Belt Hall of Famer Hayward Nishioka has been campaigning for judo in the United States to harvest more shodans (1st degree black belts) Shodan literally means student. It's analogous to being a freshman in college. It's not the end but the beginning according to Jigoro Kano, the Founder of Judo.

A very dear friend and sensei of mine the late Allen Johnson, may he rest in peace made a home at Emerald City Judo. In Redmond, Washington.

Keep Reading Show less
One Championship Winter Warriors ONE Championship

On Friday, December 3, ONE Championship returned to the Singapore Indoor Stadium for ONE: Winter Warriors.

The exciting six-bout card kickstarted the final month of 2021 with new contenders emerging and a dominant World Champion defending his crown. It was a fun night of martial arts action and set the stage for a massive 2022 campaign.

Did you miss what transpired? Do you want to relive the spectacle that went down inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium? Then here is your recap of ONE: Winter Warriors.

Keep Reading Show less
Bruce Lee Enter the Dragon / Enter the Dragon/ Warner Bros.
Bruce Lee really did have the Midas touch when it came to training. Most people think Bruce was advanced and complicated, but he was the master of simplicity. He was not worried about doing the jump-up flip spin-around back kick. Not sure if there is one. But by the time you land, Bruce would just throw a simple kick or punch to knock you down as you landed to the ground. However, that is the point. Simplicity is often overlooked because of the coolness and the latest and greatest workout when simplicity produces the most significant effect. Super complicated does not mean superior. This is actually reverse in fact. We see super complex exercises that don’t need to be. Truthfully, if an exercise or method is not straightforward in its approach, then it probably is not good.
Keep Reading Show less