Can you imagine being thrown the second you are touched? This is a characteristic movement of Baoding Kuai Jiao (“kuai jiao” literally means “fast wrestling”). It originated in Muslim communities in northern China but now has spread to Taiwan, Europe, and the Americas.

Shuai Jiao Master – Chang Tung Sheng

Shuai Jiao

Born into a Kuai Jiao family in China, Chang Tungsheng learnt the art at an early age. He earned the moniker “wrestling king” and later served as the Chinese wrestling coach at the Central Guoshu Institute. He also taught wrestling to troops across the country. When they appointed Chang  to teach police tactics at Taiwan’s Central Police University after the Nationalist Party retreat, he created a mandatory Chinese-style wrestling, or Shuai Jiao, program for all students.

After a decorated three-decade career that included a performance in front of the king of Morocco, Chang retired. His spirit lives on in his grandson David Chang, who was the Central Police University’s wrestling coach when he was still a college student. He later took over his grandfather’s position. Like his grandfather, David has been training in Kuai Jiao since childhood, eventually achieving the highest level in Kuai Jiao.

David explains that this type of Kung Fu incorporates kicks, punches, throws, and locks. “You have to think during a fight, remain flexible, and differentiate between empty and full attacks,” he says. “You cannot merely count on your strength.” Unlike mixed martial arts, Chinese wrestling is not beating opponents completely or knocking someone out.

“It’s practical for police to learn,” he says. With these grappling and throwing techniques, police officers can take down and arrest suspects easily. He also trains new recruits to the army.

Chinese Martial Art Shuai Jiao Association

In addition to his duties as program administrator in school, he instructs Shuai Jiao classes weekly at civic sports centers. And also he serves as head judge at national Shuai Jiao tournaments.

David established Chinese Martial Art Shuai Jiao Association to promote the art and science of Shuai Jiao domestically and abroad. Nowadays, there are 25 member states around the world. Antonio Langiano, president of the European Shuai Jiao Union, traveled to Taiwan just to learn Chinese-style wrestling skills from David. Japanese and Russian students also visit David to expand upon and hone their Shuai Jiao skills.

The association also holds various tournaments. They successfully pushed for Shuai Jiao to be an official sport in the International Chinese Kuoshu Foundation world championships. There’s also the biennial International Shuai Jiao Tournament, while the annual National Shuai Jiao tournament is another good chance for powerful local wrestlers to compete.

Shuai Jiao Belt Ranking System

BJJ Shuai Jiao martial arts belts

The belt ranking system is similar to that of other modern martial arts, where one rises from the first Chieh (purple belt) the sixth Chieh (white belt) and then proceeds from the 1st Teng (9th degree black belt) to the 9th Teng (1st degree black belt). David has achieved an even higher level of Teng of Perfection, and the absolute highest degree of Teng of Art is reserved solely for his grandfather, who founded the belt ranking system.

Although there are classes open to the public, joining Chang’s Shuai Jiao family is not easy. The masters scrutinize the morals, aptitude, and determination of all potential disciples. There are only around 20 to 30 official Chang school disciples all over the world who are tasked with the promotion of the martial art.

“Shuai Jiao is the grandmother of Kung Fu, also the oldest martial art of China. Many styles derive from it.” David says. “But a wrestler should step out of his comfort zone and welcome the challenges from different styles of martial arts.”

Many martial artists indeed have tried to challenge him whenever he goes abroad to promote the martial art.

“Undoubtedly, every time I give demonstrations and seminars in Europe, paramedics are always ready for an emergency because those who tried to challenge me all failed and ended up injured.”

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