Chuojiao is one of the ancient martial arts of China which was propagated in Zhili (today’s Hebei province, China). It was legendarily developed over 1,000 years ago as legend has it during the Song Dynasty by Master Deng Liang, who had develoepd 18 fundamental kicking methods on the basis of cuju (Ancient Chinese Football) and combined them effectively in battle. Chuojiao means 'Piercing Foot' and indicates the strength in developing strong and effective legwork/kicking methods. Throughout history many legendary heroes and masters were practioners of Chuojiao, such as Master Zhou Tong (Teacher of General Yue Fei) and the outlaw Wu Song (from the classical novel "Heroes of the Water Margin")
Chuojiao's reputation is so lethal that a common saying was -
" Once Chuojiao is released (upon an opponent), if not killed then would be fataly wounded, 戳脚一出，非死即伤’"
Chuojiao is a very complete martial art system that encompasses the development of the full arsenal empty hand, internal development and traditional weaponry. With tactical and distinctive boxing methods, powerfully deadly kicking techniques, dynamic Shenfa (Body methods) and advanced ground fighting (Ditangquan), Chuojiao is one of the most comprehensive traditional chinese martial arts systems. Chuojiao was developed through countless generations in war and rebellion, designed for battle. Substantial training in weaponry and combat strategy is included throughout.
The full name of Chuojiao has sometimes been referred to as 'Jiufan Yubu Yuanyang Gougua Lianhuan Xuankong Chuojiao' or [9 Changes, resisiting/wardoff Step Mandarin Ducks Hooking and Hanging Continuouos airborne Piercing Feet]. Jiu fan refer to the two Wen and Wu Tangzi sets with 9 routines each. Yu Bu is a classical leg/stepping method in Chuojiao. Gougua lianhuan refer to another classical method but more so to the mutual interchange between movements as elaborated by the mandarin duck kicks. Xuankong refers to the kicking into the air and Chuojiao means Piercing Foot. Chuojiao is also deemed to be a representative of the ancient Wenjia boxing which had been recognised as been one of the best martial arts during the time of Chang Naizhou (1724-1783) in his records. It is truely representative of Northern martial arts and requires a lot of effort to practice, since it was created by so many warriors and has absorbed so many different types of combat methods it is also one of the largest systems of martial arts in China. However it is also very protected and very rarely taught to outsiders completely.
|Cuju [蹴鞠] , the ancient football game popular in the Song Dynasty|
Chuojiao [戳脚] is one of the most ancient of traditional Chinese martial arts that dates back to at least the Song Dynasty (960-1279), given such a long history it is difficult to assess its exact origin accurately. One of the legends of its origin mentions that a Daoist wanderer named Deng Liang [邓良] who created the style commencing with 18 basic kicking/footwork actions (some research suggests leg actions from the ancient Chinese football game of Cuju [蹴鞠]which was popular in the Song Dynasty) and then deriving 108 variations according to combinations developed from the Abacus that became the essential components of the style. At the end of the Song Dynasty the style was nicknamed Fist of the Heroes, Fist of the Knights and Kicking Fists.
In the Song Dynasty, traditional Chinese martial arts were divided into 4 great sects : Chi , Bo , Chuan, Wen and ten great boxing styles : Hong, Liu, Zhi, Ming, Mo, Tan, Zha, Pao. Hua and Long. Chuojiao is often referred to as belonging to that of the Wen Sect and of the Zhi boxing style, therefore often referred to as Wenjiaquan or Jiu Zhizi. The Wen family were well known fighters at the time owning many businesses including the escorting of valuables - security logistics bureaus.
Legend of Zhou Tong and Yue Fei
Deng Liang is said to have passed his skills to Zhou Tong [周侗]. A legendary martial arts master from the Central Plains (中原) in China. Zhou Tong had practiced martial arts and military strategy (such as Sunzi's Art of War) from a young age and in his later years started teaching these methods to various disciples. Of those one of the more famous disciples was esteemed Yue Fei [岳飞], a heroic general and Chinese patriarch of the Song Dynasty. Given Yue Fei's fame and respect by the Chinese population, the style to this day contains a set of practice known as Yue Fei Sanshou. It is said that Zhou Tong being a master of high calibre taught disciples in accordance with purpose, Yue Fei was said to have excelled at military strategy, weaponry (Archery and Spear methods) and practical chinese boxing.
According to the Yuejia Pu (Yue Family Annals), Yue Fei studied some straightforward striking methods, these are considered as the basics of BaFanMen, and to this day have been named Yue Jia Chui (Strikes of the Yue Family). Yue Jia Chui are the basics on which the latter style of Yue Jia Quan in the South (Hubei, Jiangxi provinces) is based upon, it is also the fundamentals of Ba Fan Men (also known as Ba Shan Fan, or Fanziquan). Ba Fan Men was a highly influential style across the Central Plains mixing with many other methods and is the mother of Ying Zhao Fanzi (Eagle’s Claw) and was instrumental in the development by Li Luoneng (who had studied some of its methods) of Hebei Xing Yi Quan (thus the differences from the older Dai Family Xinyi and Xinyi Liuhe methods).
Legendary Heroes of the Water Margin
|Modern film portrayal of Zhou Tong [周侗]|
Another claim to fame is that a number of fighters (such as Wu Song & Lin Zhong) in the world-famous Chinese novel Outlaws of the Marsh (Shuihuzhuan-Water Margin) are depicted as Chuo jiao practitioners: also making the style also known as Shuihuquan “Fist of the Outlaws of the Water Margin”. For example in Chapter 28 of the Water Margin Novel "Drunken Wu Song beats Jiang Menshen innkeeper" the words "step of Jade ring, leg of mandarin duck" appeared, these movements being central to Chuojiao.
Legend proclaims that Zhou Tong taught Hebei’s Hu Jiuyi for 8 years, after which he acquired the skills of Yanqingfanzi and Stick Methods. As a result the style later became known asYanqingquan (Also popular in Cangzhou, Hebei province and Shandong Province). Zhou Tong also taught Lin Zhong the Fanzi boxing and excelled in Spear methods. Wu Song was said to have mastered Chuojiao, Ditangquan and 8 Drunken Immortals.
Militrary Leaders and Warriors throughout History
In every generation that followed countless experts and masters added to their development until this day. Those ancient arts and masters laid the foundation for the various martial arts known today. In fact Chuojiao is one of the oldest Chinese martial arts still in existence. Having its origin amongst warriors, rebellions and army battallions, the style of Chuojiao continued its development through countless battles. It was trialed, tested and developed generation by generation of not just individuals but complete armies. This enhanced the repertoire of the style by additional various specialised weaponry, as well as boxing methods from various styles and strategies encountered in battle.
Through the efforts of brave and courageous experts, the art of Chuo Jiao continued its application to battles. Shi Dakai, a leader of the huge Heavenly Kingdom rebellion (1851-1864) (TaiPingTianGuo)- a national rebellion that actually took over and held parts of China and involved more people than the American Civil War - was known for his scholastic and martial interests (Wen/Wu). He taught his troops, the famous Shi Battalion, who actually effectively used the skills of Chuo Jiao against Imperial troops in battle. In Volume 20 of the Unofficial History of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, it recounts how Shi's soldiers fought Qing Imperial troops using the basic jade ring skills of Chuo Jiao taught by their leader. They stood in front of the enemy line with their eyes covered by their hands, and then jumped back about 10 steps. When the enemy came close, they used both feet to kick the enemy soldiers in the abdomen or groin. If the enemy soldiers were stronger, they doubled their kicks and turned their jade rings simultaneously to defeat their enemy. These selected soldiers were called the braves of Shi and won many battles against the Qing army. Unfortunately many masters of Chuojiao also saw a bloody end after such military conflicts and thus resulted in few surviving to pass on their skills.
Feng Keshan, founder of Chuojiao Men
Great Master Feng Keshan (冯克善, 1776~1858), was said to have studied a multitude of martial arts since his youth, he had a natural talent and could acquire the essence of both letters and combat quickly. His father was an able martial expert whom associated with martial arts experts regularly. In this manner Feng was exposed to his family martial arts and obtained instruction from a large number of masters. Given his skills at the time, during his adolescence and young years Feng Keshan was a ruffian, often being involved in quarrels, fights and troubles within the community, yet he acquired quite a following and this later led to the interest in his skills and qualities by rebellious leaders.
In the Chuojiao tradition whilst it is understood that Feng Keshan studied from many teachers since his youth, he was known later principally as a disciple (in 1797) of Wensheng M Wang Xiang from Rencheng (today's Jinning, Shandong), Meihua M Tang Hengdong from Hua County (Huaxian, Henan) and Bafan M Wang and Li from Hejian.
As his teacher Wang Xiang was a well respected and capable boxing master, as well as a prominent figure in the Bailian Jiao (White Lotus) and later the Bagua Jiao (8 Trigrams， also known as Tianli Jiao, 天理教- The Heavenly Order). Feng Keshan became associated with Lin Qing and Li Wencheng, to become the leader of the Li Trigram. However, after his teachers death in the 4th month of 1813, Feng Keshan became disinterested in the Uprising plans and abandoned the cause. Official Qing government records indicated that Feng Keshan was executed by the Qing government in 1814, but this was common practice to proclaim the death of rebellious leaders to demonstrate success over rebellions.
Feng Keshan and some members of his sect dispersed to Zhili (Hebei province). As a result, Feng Keshan (or Zhao Canyi in the Raoyang tradition) was the father of Chuojiao Men. research has confirmed the various village records (Shen County, Raoyang and Li County), traditions (both Meihuazhuang and Chuojiao) passed on amongst martial arts practitioners that Feng Ke Shan was indeed Zhao Canyi, Zhao Laoxian, Feng Keming and Wandering Shaolin Monk Fa Jing , as those were all aliases that were used to hide his identity from authorities after the failed Bagua ‘8 Trigrams’ uprising.
In 1813 Feng Keshan had travelled from Dezhou county in Shandong province to various counties across Hebei Province. He changed his names many times and as a result was known in each area often by a different name. Only his closest disciples would know his actual name. In Dezhou he taught Liu Tang Gen (6 Sequences of Roots). In Raoyang together with colleagues and local boxing practitioners, there was taught Huaquan (Marvellous Boxing) in 12 Tangzi (Routines) in the Southern villages. In the Northern villages they practiced Jinggang Jia (Jingang frames), Jing Gang Chui (Jingang Strikes) and Jiu Zhizi. In Shen county, in addition to Jingang Chui he taught various boxing methods - Erlang quan and Bafan shou.
Master Feng Keshan’s earlier students in 1811, were Song Yulin and Song Yuelong in Dezhou , whom had joined the Li Trigram division of the 8 Trigrams Sect. After Song Yuelong having lost a duel with Feng Keshan his followers all were to join the Li Trigram. They were recorded as having studied the Liu Tang Gen methods from Feng Keshan.
Later around 1815 in Raoyang together with his colleagues Zhang Jingxiu and Duan Luoxu they taught the first generation disciples included Zhou Laoting, Zhao Bafang, Li Laosui, Li Laojian, Duan Yongqing, Duan Yonghe, etc. During that time together with key local boxers they taught aspects of a system to be known as Chuojiao. Also around the time there was a famous Hongquan (Red) and Huaquan (Flower) boxing teacher Zhou Laoting, who became Master Feng’s senior disciple and contributed to further developing the Chuojiao art in Raoyang.
After the fall of the Jiaqing Emperor, Feng Keshan then in approx. 1825 headed to Zhaoduanzhuang in Lixian (Li county), northwest from Raoyang. There he stayed with Liu Shang, a fellow martial arts colleague and head of the Liu family household. Liu had taught Luohan Quan, Liuhe Quan and Taizu Quan to his three sons. Then he invited Feng keshan (Chuojiao), Yang Jing (Taiji 13)) and Tang Youyi (Ditangquan). They taught the Liu family and close acquaintances for an estimated 10 years.
Development of the superb system of Chuojiao Men
To avoid the authorities, Feng Keshan when he commenced teaching in areas around the Baoding and Cangzhou prefecture of Hebei Province but undertook a few precautions. This included changing his name (such as Zhao Canyi) which took many different versions including that of Buddhist priest (Fa Jing) as well as teaching different martial arts or aspects in every location. This resulted in both confusion over his identity but also over his boxing methods. This is further complicated because some of the teaching was done by his colleagues, others by his disciples and often they had similar names to the aliases. It was later in his life when located in Li County that he started to apply his real name, even then it was as Feng Keming, prior to reverting to Feng Keshan.
The boxing methods encompassed within Chuojiao actually are the different combined efforts of Feng Keshan, his associates,military personnel and disciples across of each of the areas in particular Raoyang and Li County. The collective practiced a large array of boxing methods including Jingangquan, Wenshengquan, Erlangquan, Liuhequan, Bafanquan, Chuojiao, Taiji 13 shapes, Luohanquan, Taizuquan, Ditangquan and specialized weapons systems too.
There is a story that in the early teaching period, some of the student from different villages/counties compared what they had learnt and approached Master Feng about the problem. Essentially disciples in one village studied the boxing methods (forms or routines) whilst the other only studied combat methods/applications - thus they inquired as to which is better. Master Feng responded that neither is better, nor are either deficient and that in fact they should mutually exchange. It was after this period that the comprehensive Chuojiao system started to take shape. Together with his fellow comrades from the 8 Trigrams Sect (Tang, Yang, Zhao) and excellent Raoyang disciples (Duan, Zhou, Li) coupled with the disciples in Li county (Liu, Wang) further developed the style into the complete art which then became a very comprehensive system of martial arts known as “Chuo Jiao Men”.
In 1843, Feng Keshan already advanced in age left Li county, and records suggest he traveled to neighboring counties, others suggest that he journeyed to the west (Emei/Sichuan province). A formidable fighter, a keeper of many martial arts systems, a rebel, a daoist, a buddhist, a leader, a teacher, a wanted man, a monk, a healer, a wanderer, a begger, a sage - Feng Keshan's legacy is left through the Chuojiao system.
The descendants of Chuojiao
Resultant from both the variety and non cohesive teaching methods of Master Feng Keshan, coupled with the skills from other styles that were held in some of the key disciples it has resulted that there are a few different variations. In general though, these variations are but stylistic and the core are still in common among the styles. It should be noted that before Feng Keshan arrived, many styles were practiced in the area (Li County, Gaoyang County, Sunning County etc) thus were absorbed into Chuojiao as well. The Baoding prefecture is well known for being the source of many great military leaders and has historically been a centre of martial arts excellence, there are styles such as Bafanquan, Taizu Changquan, Xixia Quan, Ma family Quan, Luohan Quan, Xinyi Taiji Xing Quan, Mianzhang, Ditang Quan, Cha hua Quan, Duan Quan, amongst many others - many of these had been incorporated into Chuojiao overtime.
|Hebei Chuojiao Masters|
Raoyang was the first destination after Feng Keshan was saved by Zhang Jingxiu, Duan Luoxu and Liu Shang. They had found him in a cell located in Xian county (neighbouring Raoyang) and since the then emperor was still actively seeking anyone associated with the Tianli Jiao (Bagua Jiao) uprising, Feng kept a low profile in Raoyang areas. He was accompanied in Raoyang by fellow colleagues including Zhang Jingxiu, Yinyang Huzi (alias of Tang Youyi), Zhao Bafang and Duan Luoxu. Later Zhou Laoting (Huaquan) an established teacher became one his first disciples and his students joined the Chuojiao system. Zhao Bafang, also known as Zhao Youyi was from Lijiaying village in Ningjin county and had previous martial arts including Erlang Quan (sometimes called Shaolin Quan) and Bafan Shou. As a result some of the teaching was not always by Feng Keshan directly but also by his colleagues and disciples.
The younger generation of disciples included Li Laosui, Li Laojian, Duan Yongqing and Duan Yonghe, Liu Laowang, Li Laoti (Timing), Jia Laokai, Zhang Laoxiao, Wang Laoyuan, Zhao Laozhi and Song Laoqian.
In some of the various records they were taught by Zhao Laocan, Zhao Canyi (which is both considered an alias of Feng Keshan but also Zhao Bafang). In different villages like Feng Zhuang in Shen County (Zhang Jingxiu's hometown) it was said that Shaolinquan and Bafanquan were taught, noting that Zhang was a Bafanquan practitioner. In Beiguanzhuang of Raoyang it is said that Zhao Canyi (Zhao Bafang) taught Jingangquan. As it is normal sometimes two generations are teaching simultaneously so it is not a direct method but one of multiple contributions, often leading to differences in lineages.
The main branches of Raoyang Chuojiao existing today are:
Li Family Chuojiao 饒陽李氏戳腳: Li Timing was the disciple of Li Laosui had the most disciples and his skills spread throughout the villages. In Shen County, there was Wang Yuetong and Han Qichang. In Beizhangbao village, Li Fushan, Li Ancheng, Zhao Biao. In Zou Village, Yang Kuishan. In Wangqiao village Wang Chenzhang. In Yuanzi village, Zhou Jinhui and others.
Song Family Chuojiao 饒陽宋氏戳腳: Song Laoqian, a disciple of the Duan brothers taught his descendants and the style has now been taught across Hengshui.
Feng Keshan after his time in the south (Raoyang) moved to Lixian. There were further developments and methods at that time and many new techniques were created. Since his personnel from his former days such as Tang Youyi and Yang Jing also contributed, Chuojiao became well established as a formidable martial art.
Liu Family Chuojiao 蠡縣劉氏戳腳: These are the practitioners descended from Feng Keshan's disciples the Liu brothers, Liu Guanlan (1820-1903) in particular, spread the art in their county and elsewhere (as they worked in security escort business). Lixian Chuojiao was the most widely spread. It is in fact the Liu family that consolidated the skills from their family (Luohanquan, Taizuquan, Shuaijiao & Liuhequan) as well as Tang Youyi (Ditangquan), Yang Jing (Taiji 13 shapes), Wang Zhiguo (Bafanquan) and Feng Keshan (Chuojiao) into a complete system. The Wen Tangzi of Chuojiao were completed by Liu Guanlan. Therefore Liu Guanlan is respected as one of the key ancestors of Chuojiao. Feng Keshan and Liu Shang had sent a note for Liu Guanlan to work for the Chengxing Bureau in Cangzhou where Da Liuhe Men expert Li Fenggang was the head (Liu Shang had studied Liuhequan). There Liu Guanlan studied further but also learn the Security Bureau business. Later he established the Fuyuan Security bureau which helped spread the boxing skills far and wide. The Fuyuan Bureau hired mostly Chuojiao and related practitioners from Liu's hometown, at that time Wang Zhiguo from a nearby county in Li county had established a bureau but later closed down. His son Wang Zhan'ao joined Liu's Fuyuan bureau and after Liu retired managed it as well, it is there that many branches/derivatives of Chuojiao rose.
Liu Junjie (Liu Guixin) was the brother of Liu Guanlan and he passed Chuojiao within the family in Zhaoduanzhuang, especially Liu Zhenguo who maintained the Chuojiao methods onto next generations at its home.
Wei Changyi was the cousin of the Liu family and he later also joined the Security Bureau business with the Liu family. He later taught in Qi county, including his nephew Wei Zankui and his Deyi disciple Wang Luocang who also became a security officer then later taught in Zhuzuo Village.
It is noted that whilst Liu Guanlan taught and exchanged with many, he had passed all his key skills only to the Liu family (Zhen generation) and four key Deyi disciples: Wei Laofang, Zhao Zhenji, Liu Zhenjiang and Ran Zhenji. They each taught in neighboring villages where Chuojiao had been propagated comprehensively.
Gaoyang is just north neighbouring Li County, in its southern areas there are many villages known for martial arts predominantly Duanquan, Bafanquan, Yanqingquan and Taizu Hongquan. Descendants from Zhao Zhenji, Liu Zhenjiang and Wang Luocang later brought the Chuojiao system and integrated it with the local methods. In addition Zhao Fupan from Raoyang Chuojiao and Wang Zhan'ao from Bafanquan had descendants in Gaoyang as well.
Yin Baisui and Yin Guifang were from Bianjiawu village in Gaoyang, whom had partially studied Gaoyang Chuojiao (which includes Duanquan, Taizuquan, Bafanquan and Chuojiao) then taught some of the methods in the Houbaisi village. Yin Ruyan also from Houbaisi village, taught Yin Bingwu and Yin Xuejie. Yin Xuejie taught Zhang Hong who called the practice 'Gu Zhizi'. Yin Bingwu, in addition to learning from his father, further studied Chuojiao with Liu Renyi (Li county Geng village). Miao Xiaolan was Yin Bingwu's student, and later she further studied with Liu Qingpo (Liu Renyi's son).
Wei Zankui had served as a security officer and imperial guard, achieving a high rank for fighting against the eight alliance forces and protecting the Empress Dowager, his boxing was also called in honour as Yu Fanzi (Imperial Fanzi). He latter taught many different disciples such as Wei Xing, Wei Youcai, Wei Xishen, Wu Zhentang, Xiao Chunrong and Wu Binlou. Later Wu Binlou relocated to Beijing, where his style became known as Chuojiao Fanzi.
The further derivations or new styles of Chuojiao
In addition to the different branches of Chuojiao, there are also derivations where parts of chuojiao were learnt and then mixed further or that only remnants of the overall style evolved in other locations. Some of these include the following :
Yangzhou Chuojiao 扬州戳腳- Zhang Family Chuojiao 張氏戳腳 - Zhang Jing Tian, was a disciple of Master Wang Zhiguo/Wang Zhan'ao. He passed his skills to Zhang Heng Qing, nicknamed “Iron Leg Zhang Heng Qing” taught parts of Chuojiao mixed with Tongbei Quan in Yangzhou to Wang Qing Fu, He Yu Shan, Tian Chun and others
Tianjin Chuojiao 津門戳腳 - Was taught by Han Yixiang (1906-1981) who was originally from Gaoyang County, was said to have studied with Wang Zhan'ao. In 1926 M Han moved to Tianjin and being young he continued studying other arts such Yingzhao Quan from Cao Qingfeng, old shaolin boxing from Guo Fushun. In the 1950's he held many official positions
Digong Chuojiao 地功戳腳- Gao Family Chuojiao 高氏戳腳 -In Shenyang a master from Li county by the name of Gao Bai Quan passed on a Chuo jiao style named “Di Gong Chuo Jiao” (Ground Skill Chuo Jiao). Master Gao was born in Li county and commenced the pracitce of Chuo Jiao at the age of 11 under master Wang Yong Cen (a disciple of Wei Lao Fang).
Dongbei Chuojiao 東北戳腳 - Xu Family Chuojiao - Xu Zhaoxiong, was a student of Wang Zhanao (from Gaoyang County, Son of Wang Zhiguo and disciple of Wei Laofang, part of Liu Guanlan's Logistics Security Bureau) studying rudimentary bafanquan and chuojiao wu tangzi. Master Xu brought his Chuojiao methods and propagated the art in Dongbei areas (Liaoning etc). This is also known as Dongbei Chuojiao.
Hu Family Chuojiao 胡氏戳脚 - Hu Feng San, nicknamed “Hua Qiang Hu” (Flower Spear Hu) for his command of the spear, was a master of other martial arts (Shaolin, Xingyi etc) prior to studying some elementary Chuojiao. He created and taught his Hu Family boxing, later known as sequences of Wen Tang Zi (Scholarly Sequences) to students in the city of Shenyang in Liaoning Province. These are new creations that include other martial influences not specifically related to the Chuojiao Wen Tangzi from Li county. Since Hu Fengsan later was friends Yang Junfeng and Hao Mingjiu (student of Xu Zhaoxiong) and their combined efforts was called Chuojiao Fanzi, also known as Dongbei Chuojiao.
The above are basically the specific Chuojiao branches, additionally there are also styles which have incorporated or combined with Chuojiao such as:
Chuojiao Tanglang (Chuojiao Praying Mantis), Shuihuquan (水滸拳 Water Margin Boxing), Ma Shi Tongbei (馬氏通备 Ma Family Tongbei), Chuojiao Dai Fanshou (戳腳帶翻手Chuojiao with Rotating Hands), Yuanyang Tui (鴛鴦腿 Mandarin Duck Kicks), Ditangquan (地躺拳 Ground Tumbling Boxing) and others.
Taiping Chuojiao System
Taiping Chuojiao is predominantly Gaoyang Chuojiao which encompasses both Raoyang and Lixian Chuojiao. Over the years we have researched/studied many different branches of Chuojiao and have adopted some of those as well. Chuojiao demands the full use of all parts of the body and as a result one of the key fundamentals is to develop coordination and flexibility to the same. When commencing the study of Chuojiao one commences with specific exercises to strengthen the structure of the body, which includes both strength but pliability development as well. All the joints need to be highly tuned to ensure proper absorption. The preliminary methods of Chuojiao focus on some unique kicking fundamentals. Additionally, basic stances are developed including unique Zhanzhuang (Standing Post Exercises) methods. From here some introductory drills (both individual and partner) are practiced ranging from the obviously simple to more advanced. At this stage some of the key stepping methods, combinations and hand works are introduced.
Jiben Gong Fa/基本功法 - Fundamental conditioning and training exercises
As Chuojiao requires all aspects of the body to be applied, the conditioning is a thorough program of gaining strength and flexibility across all major parts. To achieve this there are many isometric and calisthenics like exercises that are practiced, these are divided into a few major categories.
- Zhuang Gong Fa (Static stance and standing meditation methods））
- Ti Zhuang Fa (Static Kicking or Leg strengthening Postures)
- Di Gong Fa (Ground Strengthening methods, upper limb strenghtening)
- Tui Gong Fa (Dynamic Kicking or Leg Strengthening Movements)
- Yao Gong Fa (Waist, back and abdominals development)
- Kao Da Fa (Body bumping, striking, development)
- Huo Bu Fa (Stepping and Footwork development)
- Die Pu Fa ( Falling and Dropping onto ground)
The exercises and methods above are supported by other fitness methods to provide the basic development of the physique to be able to study further within the Chuojiao system.
Liu Tui Shi/溜腿势 - Fundamental kicking practices
The practice of standalone kicking methods are both treated as exercises and practice, with emphasis on gaining flexibility and strength. Many of these are as a result high based kicks.
Dan Cao/单操 Shou Tao/手套 - Techniques and methods practices
The practice of standalone techniques. These form important basics and develop the coordination and techniques. These are not single techniques in terms of movement rather they encompass an range of methods. As a result for example Wu Hua Pao and be practiced as 3 step variation or a 6 step one, as well as with different footwork. Liu He Shou as an example includes techniques in short and long, from a turn or stationary variations.
In addition to the standalone techniques, Chuojiao also includes the practice of fundamental drills that range from conditioning of the body and limbs by knocking with an opponent but then advance into more complex yet practical combat techniques practice.
In Chuojiao applies the use of apparatus to aid in the process of training and conditioning, as well as for techniques practice. These include poles, logs, posts, sandbags (multiple, stationary and moving setups), iron bags, pads, boulders and many more which develop the necessary power, impact skills and evasive methods.
Nei Gong Fa/内功 - Internal Cultivation Methods
Chuojiao absorbed the methods from the Daoist Quanzhen School and from the Buddhist Shaolin School in terms of nourishing and stimulating the internal organs. There are as a result a few different practices that are taught at various in the curriculum to support the requirements at the relevant time.
Hun Yuan Gong (混元功法 / Primordial Chaos Exercises) | Hun Yuan Gong consists of both seated and standing exercises, as well some Dantian nuturing methods including Yang Dantian (Nourishing the Dantian), Zhan Dantian (Holding the Dantian), Fan Dantian (Turning the Dantian) and so on. Whole body internal power development is then practiced through methods known as Yinyang Dafa (Balancing), yun bafa (Transporting) and Kaihe Dafa (opening and closing)
Taiyi Wushi Fa (太乙五十法/ Taiyi 50 Methods) | 50 Methods of Primordial unity of Yin and Yang: Also known as Dongyi (动意功, Mind moving) methods, these are advanced derivative practices of Nei Dan (内丹/Internal Elixir) Qigong.
Three Classics (三经) | One of the Chuojiao internal development methods are the three classics. These originate in ancient Daoist Internal cultivation techniques over 2,000 years and have developed into comprehensive practice. It is said "If the fluids are well maintain, the spirit is good; If the Blood and Immune system are well, the body is fit and healthy; If the tendons and physique are well, overall longevity will be achieved
- Shui Jin Jing （水津经 / Transformation of the fluids )
- Xue Jin Jing（血筋经Transformation of blood & Immune System)
- Yi Jin Jing （易筋经 / Transformation of Tendons & Physique)
General Principles of the Chuojiao system
Art the heart of Chuojiao lies the study of many methods including the 5 elements, six coordinations, 9 keys, 81 kicking methods, changing and transforming hand methods, energy generation methods and much more.
Some of the key principles of legwork (kicks) of Chuojiao include the following: - Dian (点，Point) - Quan (圈，Circle) - Jue (觉，Trample) - Nian (粘，Roll) - Cuo (搓，Grind) - Ti (提，Lift) - Cun (寸，Inch) - Xian (掀，Cover). - Cha (插, Pierce) - Bai (Swing, 摆) - Ti (kick, 踢) - Deng (Stomp, 蹬 )
In Chuojiao: - Hands and legs can be used simultaneously yet mutually exclusive from each to take advantage of the full arsenal of the human body. - Every plane from upper to lower and middle can be transitioned with ease and methods can interchange accordingly.
Chuojiao System of Practice
Chuo Jiao is a battle orientated martial art which requires the training of many drills and combat. With a martial containing the content and having the long military history of Chuojiao, it is noticeable that there are quite a lot of methods passed down that encapsulate concisely many of the theorems and techniques into a practice method. Once students have mastered the basic exercises, gong, methods and drills, then to learn the forms students must firstly learn and practice the individual techniques, this includes their basic application and mastery of the techniques to an acceptable level. These are composed and the form or routine is taught in full, at which time further applications, power methods and technical aspects are refined.
Jin Gang whilst meaning 'of extreme hardness or Diamond Steel', also refers to the Buddhist Warrior Guards assigned to protect the Dharma (teachings of Buddha), and as a result are found at the entrances of Temples or alongside images of Buddha. They are known for a fierce, powerful stature.
Jingang Quan combines and transforms Jin (Metal/Gold), Ying (Silver), Tong (Copper), Tie (Iron) and Gang (Steel) into one. Its intention is that power is as indestructible as a Diamond/Steel and its postures move like a swinging hammer. Powerful, direct, simple and effective are the core of Jingangquan. The movements are large and extended, every posture every technique emphasizes "Da jia qiang du" (Large improves level of Strength), "Qiang Du jia ying du" (Strong improves the level of hardness).
- Jingang Pao Chui (十二趟五花炮捶 12 variations of Cannon Strikes)
- Jingang Chui (八趟金刚捶 8 sequences Jingang Strikes)
- Jingang Jiazi (金刚架 Framework Set)
- Jingang Shoutao (二十四手套 24 Combat Drills）
- Jingang Sanshou (金刚散手 2 man combat set)
- Jingang Sixing Quan (金刚四行拳 4 Shapes)
- Jingang Babu Quan (金刚八步拳 8 Steps)
- Jingang Lishi Quan (金刚力士拳 Lishi)
Six Harmonies Roots, is also known as Liutang Gen (Six Sequences Roots) since it consists of 6 sections. In Chuojiao there is also the importance of the Liuhe (Six Harmonies) in supporting the Ba Fa (8 Methods) cannot be understated for if the Liuhe are not adhered then techniques are not complete (accurate or powerful enough). The practice of Liuhe Gen introduces many shorter range techniques/methods (compared with Jingangquan) and also introduces fundamentals of Doujing (trembling power).
- Liuhe Gen (六合根 Six Harmonies Roots (6 Sequences))
Erlang Shen is mythical god in Chinese Folklore, known for helping to regulate the great floods and as the nephew of the Jade Emperor. He carries a Trident Spear, a bow, and has a faithful Dog as a companion. In a martial sense, Erlang also referred to two young gents, potraying that this skillset was originally only practiced as a 2 man combat set. Latter practitioners isolated the movements and developed the single set as well. Erlangquan's five short sets are based on the Wuxing (5 Phases), thus referred to as Duanquan (二郎短拳) or Wuxing Quan (五行拳) and the Longer sets or 8 sections are based on the Bagua (Trigrams) of Heaven (乾), Lake (兑), Fire (离), Thunder (震), Wind (巽), Water (坎), Mountain (艮) and Earth (坤). Therefore, sometimes this has also been referred to as Changquan (二郎长拳) or Bagua Quan (八卦拳). The importance of this training is both more angled techniques whereas Jingangquan was predominantly linear, Erlang Quan is across multiple directions and includes a range of attacks and defence.
- Erlang Quan (十二趟二郎拳 12 sequences/sections of Erlangquan)
- Erlang Sanshou （二郎散手 Matching 2 man Combat Set of Erlangquan)
Nezha, is a Daoist Deity for protection, is often depicted flying in the sky with a wheel of fire under each foot, a golden hoop, the "cosmic ring", a red sash around his shoulder and a spear in his hands.
Many specialised techniques are uniquely found in Nezhaquan, such as Lian Jian Chui (Linked Arrows Strikes), which is also known as San Tou Ba Bi (3 Heads, 8 Arms), Nezha Tanhai (Nezha disrupts the Oceans) and Nezha Bao Quan (Nezha embraces the Golden Ring). The movements in Nezha Quan are quick and nimble, steadfast and strong. With an array of footwork and stepping skills that add mobility to the powerful Chuojiao methods.
- Nezha Quan (哪吒拳 6 sequences/sections of Nezha Quan)
Legends suggest that during the Tang Dynasty, a warrior knight from Hua Shan (Hua Mountain), Cao Mao killed some nobles from the nearby Chang An (now known as Xian one of the ancient capitals), and thereafter escaped to distant Rencheng (now known as Jining) in Shandong province. Cao Mao was renowned for both his Sword skills (Hua Shan Sword) and Combat (Hua Quan), he passed on to his descendants which gradually developed the system further. Its origin is that either Chuojiao Master Feng Keshan acquired these skills with masters in Jining whilst he was with his teacher Wang Xiang and/or one of his disciples had been an expert of Huaquan prior and then it was absorbed by the next generation of Chuojiao practitioners.
These were then taught to the many followers in Hebei later. Huaquan belongs to the similar set of boxing techniques as in this group, except it is distinct by its execution, the techniques are linked, flowing with both speed and stability, it requires high level of skills to master the methods. There are 12 sequences or sections to Huaquan and there is also a matching 2 man combat set.
- Hua Quan (十二趟华拳 Hua Boxing)
- Hua Quan Sanshou (六趟华拳对练 combat set)
Jiu Zhizi/九枝子, or Wu Tangzi /武趟子
The core of Chuojiao are on these sequences (sometimes referred to as Gu Zhizi (Old Branches), or Jiu Fanzi (9 Rotations - mainly because it consists of 9 squences) and latter as Wu Tang Zi (Military Routines). Jiu Zhi Zi are the core of Chuojiao and are essential to master as all the important kicks are included and elaborated upon in the course of mastering Wu Tangzi, it is the parent and heart of the Chuojiao system.
- Jiu Zhizi Quan (九枝子拳 9 Sequences of Wu Tangzi 武趟子)
Wen Tangzi /文趟子
The advanced sets of Chuojiao were developed on the basis of Jiu Zhizi and the older boxing methods of Bafanquan, Taizuquan, Taijishisanxing and Luohanquan. This process of integration created new methods and combinations, the techniques are less direct as in Jiu Zhizi, and allows for adopting more advanced strategies to combat. More importantly the power in Wen Tangzi is more refined, a harmony between hard and soft. The fist work in Wentangzi also brings a lot of elements to the already impressive arsenal of the Chuojiao practitioner.
- Xie Huan Bu (卸环步 Removing Ring Step)
- Lian Huan Quan (连环拳 Continuous Fists)
- Lian Huan Tui (连环腿 Continuous Kicks)
- Rao Ma Tui (绕马腿 Round Weighted Down Kicks)
- Shi Ba Ti (十八腿 18 Kicks)
- Shi Ba Dian (十八点 18 Points)
- Cha Dian (插点 Stab Points)
- Li Shi Quan (力士拳 Guardian Warrior Boxing)
Meihua Luodi /梅花落地 (Ditangquan /地躺拳)
Attacking angular strikes, kicks, hidden movements of tumbling, falling and ground fighting are a major focus of Meihua Luodi (or Ditangquan). These techniques were derived from the teachings of Tang Youyi and were passed on by Master Liu Zhenjiang.
- Dixing Quan (地行拳 Ground Moving Boxing)
- Zi Sun Dan (子孙丹 Posterity Elixir)
- Fei Jian (飞剪 Flying Scissors)
- Yanzi Ka (燕子卡 Swallow Blocking)
- Wu Xue Jiao (五踅脚 5 single Legs)
- Jing Si Shou (金丝手 Golden Wrapped Hands)
- Xiao Ba Xian (小八仙 8 Small Immortals
- Da Ba Xian (大八仙 8 Large Immortals)*
*The Ba Xian ( Eight Immortals) are also practiced in 'drunk' variation known as Drunken Eight Immortals Boxing 醉八仙拳.
Taiji 13 Shapes /太极十三形
In actuality this consists of two aspects Taiji and Shisan Xing. This ancient system with releases of power, smooth transitions and whole body projection, are the methods passed on by the teachings of Yang Jing. Each of the single methods includes aspects of visible Bo fa li (explosive power releasing). Emphasis is on the opening and closing methods. To each single method there are between 5 to 12 movements/techniques series. This is culminated in a linked set. Training with apparatus such as the heavy ball (Taji Qiu ) is also included. The Shisanxing (13 Shapes/Imitations ) are represented by the Chuojiao 13 animals of Dragon, tiger, monkey, horse, crane, rooster, bear, swallow bird, camel, leopard, eagle, sparrow hawk and snake ( many of the techniques are also incorporated into the Wen Tangzi).
- Dan Cao (Single Methods)
- Shisanxing Quan (13 shapes set )
- Gu Wudang Taijiquan (Old Taijiquan)
36 Locking Hands / 三十六合锁
The Locking hands of Chuojiao, are methods of Chin-na (Joint manipulations) seizing, grappling and controlling techniques. Since each lock has three derivations (Lock and counter-locks), it is sometimes known as the 108 Chin-na methods of Chuojiao.
Advanced and Other Boxing Methods/ 小戳脚
The specialized and differentiated skills of Chuojiao are often referred to as Xiao Chuojiao (or Lesser Chuojiao) or Yansheng Quan (Evolve or derived Boxing). This is because they are the remnants and derivations from old local methods, mixed with those and there are fewer practitioners and seldom are the contents known. Here most Chuojiao styles deviate because Feng Keshan and his colleagues taught different skills and often these are from other styles or in fact styles in themselves. Some of these are more rudimentary whilst others are advanced. As an example, Liu Shang (head of the Liu family) had taught Point Striking methods, Shaolin Boxing including Luohan Quan. When Bafanquan (Fanziquan) was incorporated sets like Meihua Pao (also known as Meihua Fanzi) were added, as were Yanzi Quan (Yanqing Quan, Yanqing Fanzi) and so on. Every generation would contribute to these methods and additionally, later generation masters created or adopted methods/sets from other styles as well.
*Since our Chuojiao and Bafan Quan were taught/passed down together from lineages of the same area of Baoding Li County and Gaoyang, there are elements in each therein, so other boxing methods can be found in the Bafanquan section.
Practitioners of Chuojiao did not realm temples or isolated mountains, Chuojiao practitioners were warriors or knights, rebels and bandits. They served as Imperial bodyguards, battled in wars for the rights of the masses and were generals and fighters in uprisings and rebellions. Skilled in empty hand combat, yet masters of military strategy and chinese weapons. There are an enormous array of Weapons skills as a result. The key weapons of focus are the Spear (Qiang), the broadsword (Dao), the sword (Jian) and the Taiping Dao (Long Handled broadsword or Shuang Shou Dai). Other unique and rare weapons were also practiced and we thus continue the practical training of such. Some of the key weapons and their sets/methods are noted below:
- Kun Lun Dao (大小昆仑刀) Kun Lun Broadsword)
- Jin Bei Dao (金背刀 Golden Back Broadsword)
- Bagua Dao (八卦刀 Bagua Broadsword)
- Meihua Dao (梅花刀 Plum Blosssom Broadsword)
- Liuhe Dao (六合刀 Six Harmonies Broadsword)
- Shuangshou Dai Dao (双手带刀 Double Handled Chopping Saber)
- Ye Zhan Ba Fang Dao (夜战八方刀 Night Battle 8 Directions Broadsword)
- Zhan Dao (Miao Dao) (战刀 Battle Long Broadsword)
- Shuang Dao (双刀 Double Broadswords)
Spear / 枪
In Northern China, the spear is considered the king of long weapons. There have been many famous methods throughout history such as the Lihua Spear from the Yang family, the Liuhe Spear, Yue family, Luo Family and Ma Family Spears. the Wu Hu (5 Tigers) refer the five families/styles of spear on which the methods are based. The Luosi (Flexible) Spear is quite unique to Chuojiao and rarely found in other styles.
- Zheng Ba Luo Si Qiang (正把罗丝枪 Straight Hold Flexible Shifting Spear)
- Er long Chu Shui Qiang (二龙出水枪 Double Dragons Exit Water Spear)
- Meihua Qiang (梅花枪 Plum Blossom Spear)
- Wu Hu Duan Men Qiang (五虎断门枪 5 Tigers Breaking the Gate Spear)
- Wu Hu Dian Gang Qiang (五虎点刚枪 5 Tigers Pointing the Hardness Spear)
- Zuo Ba Luo Si Qiang (左把罗丝枪 Left Hold Flexible Shifting Spear)
- Yin Ba Qi Men Qiang (阴把奇门枪 Inverse Hold Mysterious Spear)
- Yi Shou Si Men Qiang (易手四门枪 Changing Hands Four Gates Spear)
- Jueming Shisan Qiang (绝命十三枪, Life ending 13 Spear)
- Liu he Da Qiang (六合大枪 6 Harmonies Long Spear)
- Shuang Tou She Qiang (双头蛇枪 Two Headed Snake Spear)
Sword / 剑
The sword methods of Chuojiao in folklore are said to derive from the best methods of ancient China - such the Hua Shan Pai (famous for its sword), as Wang Xiang was one of the keepers or key inheritors from the Hua Shan system. The Zi Wu methods are those from Hua Shan Pai, the 7 Stars sword is from Quan Zhen Pai (Complete Truth School), whilst the Dragon Sword methods are from Kun Lun Pai.
- Wen Wu San Cai Jian (三才剑: 文，武二路) 3 Treasures Sword)
- Zi Wu Jian (子午剑 Ziwu Sword)
- Qinglong Jian (青龙剑：青，行二路) Green Dragon Sword)
- Qi Xing Jian (七星剑 7 Stars Sword)
- Qimen Jian (奇门剑 (一至三路) Qi Men Sword)
- Shuang Shou Da Jian (双手长剑 Two Handed Long Sword)
- San He Quan Long Shuang Jian (三合圈龙双剑 3 Harmonies Dragon Double swords)
Staff / 棍
It is said that Feng Keshan preferred the Spear - a weapon often used in battle. However the Wuhu Panlong (Coliing Staff) which is thought to have been brought into the system by one of Feng Keshan's student, is one of the most comprehensive Taizu staff methods encompassing many of the best techniques from Northern Staff.
- Kai Shan Gun (开山棍 (一至三趟) Opening Mountain Staff)
- Yin Yang Suo Shou Gun (阴阳锁手棍 Yan and Yang Locking Hands Staff)
- Zi Mu Yuan Yang Bang (子母鸳鸯棒 Mother and Son Mandarin Ducks Stick)
- Wu Hu Pan Long Gun (五虎盘龙棍 (一至五路) 5 Tigers Coiling Dragon Staff)
- Da Lian Jie Shaozi Gun (大连节梢子棍 Large Link sectional Staff)
Other / 其他