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.
|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 Master Wang Xiang from Rencheng (today's Jinning, Shandong), Master Tang Hengdong from Hua County (Huaxian, Henan) and Master Wang and Li from Hejian. The various boxing systems from those teachers and others included Erlangquan, Huaquan, Ditangquan, Chaquan, Xinyi Quan, Yanqingquan, Meihuazhuang, Taizuquan, Bafanquan, Hongquan and Zhiziquan (Chuojiao) which are the basis of the skills that Feng Keshan later propagated across the Cangzhou and Baoding regions of Hebei Province.
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 he first taught Huaquan (Marvellous Boxing) in 12 Tangzi (Routines) in the Southern villages. In the Northern villages he taught Jinggang Jia (Jingang frames) and Jing Gang Chui (Jingang Strikes). 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 his disciples included the Duan Family, the Duan brothers (Duan Yonghe & Duan Yongqing) received tuition in Chuojiao as they were taught privately (Zhao Canyi (name in Raoyang) was hired as a private martial arts teacher for the household). 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. Feng Keshan then in approx. 1825 headed to Lixian (Li county), northwest from Raoyang. He was introduced to the Liu family (to teach their three sons) by Duan Yonghe to become resident teacher there.
The Liu family records state three teachers of the household Feng keshan, Yang Jing and Tang Youyi. This time Master Feng taught a complete and ordered system which included Liu Tang Gen, Jing Gang Jia as fundamentals and then 18 sequences of Chuo jiao divided into scholarly and military (Wen/Wu Tangzi). In addition Yia zi Chui, San lan Shou and other great works were developed. Although teachers of the Liu family proper other locals were also taught. Some of the disciples in Li county included Wei Chang Yi and Wei Laofang amongst many others. Another Master Wang Zhiguo of the same generation as Master Zhao Canyi, was also a practitioner of the Chuojiao and Fanzi martial arts and contributed to various branches of the style. His sons were sent to study with Zhao Canyi and developed excellent skills. Since Zhao Canyi spent many years in Hebei teaching in different areas, the variations to Chuojiao are numerous. Fundamentally, however they have all become similar in concept and essence whilst the structure and organization of the systems contents may differ.
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. 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 the combined efforts of Feng Keshan, his associates,military personnel and disciples. This means it encompassed all the martial from Feng Keshan as well as those from contributors such as Duan family, Yang Jing (1789-1856) was a practitioner of Taij 13 Shapes, Tang Youyi (expert of Ditangquan) and so on.
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) and excellent disciples (Duan, Zhou) coupled with the students in Li county further developed the style into the complete art which then became a very comprehensive system of martial arts known as “Chuo Jiao Men”.
Thus, although Chuojiao is recognized as a specific martial art it in fact encompassed a great many martial arts systems from the Central China Plains (Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi and Henan Provinces). Presently there are 3 main branches of Chuo jiao teachings. Hebei Chuojiao, Dongbei Chuojiao and Beiping (Beijing) Chuojiao. Hebei Chuojiao is classified as the ‘Original’ or older, with two main sub-branches, the Raoyang school and the Lixian school. Both counties are recognized as “Wushu Zhi Xiang” (Chuojiao zhi xiang) a term used in China to indicate the concentration of martial arts skills in areas. They are known as representative of the Hebei branch of Chuojiao. Of the students in Lixian, the Liu Family continued the teachings proper and following the Wen/Wu classification of the sets. Zhou Laoting's disciple Zhao returned to his county Gao Yang and only passed the art to his sons and their family, being supplemented later by his descendants and the boxing styles from neighbouring villages. Wei Changyi taught the style which later became the Beijing Chuo Jiao Fan Zi style as passed on by Wu Binlou, who had researched all branches and attempted to restore or develop the style. Master Wu Binlou was famous in Beijing and taught many students. The arts contents differ in structure and the forms contain many ‘fanzi’ based names. Although a division of Chuojiao it is known as Chuojiaofanziquan. Since the developments above Master Feng Keshan (Zhao Canyi) is regarded as the first patriarch/generation master of Chuojiao.(In some lineages it is Master Wang Zhiguo).
In 1843, Feng Keshan already advanced in age left Li county, and records suggest he travelled to Sunning or Gu'an counties, others suggest that he journeyed to the west (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 Disciples of Chuojiao Men
As Master Feng Keshan (Zhao Canyi) taught martial arts for a living there were no shortage of students, however, since some of the private disciples (such as the Duan and Liu households) were very priviledged, they achieved a great deal of mentoring. There are said to have been about 20 or so disciples that had studied to mastery the comprehensive Chuojiao system. Often many of the disciples were existing masters in their own right or had acquired previous skills prior to meeting Master Feng.
The key disciples were Song Yuelong, Song Yulin, Zhou Laoting, Duan Zhixu, Duan Zhiyong, Liu Pangui, Liu Guanlan and Liu Guixing. Others included Yin Chunzhang, Wei Laofang, Wei Changyi, Wang Zhanao, Wang Zhanxiong and Gao Qintian (whom likely studied with Liu Guanlan). Each had their own distinct stylistic approaches and obtained mastery in their own right further developing the Chuojiao system and propagating the art to latter generations.
Song Yuelong (宋跃隆, 1778-1835) and Song Yulin (宋玉林,1803-1859) had studied for only a short time with Feng Keshan in Dezhou county (in Shandong province, near the border of Hebei province. This was in 1811-1812, still prior to the Bagua Uprising. They had focused on some of the Bafan Shou methods (originally from Hejian county, Hebei Province) that Feng Keshan taught.
Zhou Laoting (周老亭, 1789-1861) was Huaquan expert in Beihuanzhuang, Raoyang County. After hearing of a well known master in the Northern districts of Raoyang, It was said that Feng Keshan had passed by where Zhou Laoting was teaching and commented whether his techniques could cut it on the battlefield. After a short challenge, Feng Keshan with his powerful and furious Chuojiao methods overcame the techniques of Zhou Laoting who then became one of Feng's disciples. In fact Zhou's students also studied under Feng Keshan thereafter. Zhou Laoting studied for over 8 years with Feng Keshan and became an expert and one of his most skilled disciples.
Duan Zhixu (段志绪, 1806-1867) and Duan Zhiyong (段志勇,1808-1892) (known as the Duan brothers) were residents in Raoyang, whose father (a martial arts expert in his right) had organized for Master Feng keshan to be their private Martial arts teacher. The diligent brothers became some of the most endeared disciples of Master Feng.
Liu Pangui (1826-1873), Liu Guanlan (刘观澜, 1820-1910) and Liu Guixing (1818-1859) (known as the Liu brothers) were from Li County, and their father was acquainted with the Duan family. As a result Feng Keshan was later hired to become the private tutor for the Liu brothers in Li County. Wei Laofang and Wei Changyi were also disciples in Li County.
During his time in each of the various locations - Dezhou, Hejian, Shen, Raoyang and Li counties and surrounding areas (such as Jinning and Gaoyang), Feng Keshan had taken up other disciples as well as those from his employer. Wang Zhanao and Wang Zhanxiong (Wang brothers, sons of the famous Wang Zhiguo) had taken tutelage from Feng Keshan but also received instruction from the Duan brothers and Wei Laofang.
Also, the teachings of martial arts masters Tang Youyi (Ditangquan) and Yang Jing (Taijiquan) were incorporated into the already comprehensive 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 thought, these variations are but stylistic and the core are still in common among the styles.
|Hebei Chuojiao Masters|
Descended from the earlier teachings of Feng Keshan and his key disciples, the Duan brothers who taught in Raoyang county and elsewhere to their key disciples including Liu Laowang, Li Laoti (Timing), Jia Laokai, Zhang Laoxiao, Wang Laoyuan, Zhao Laozhi, Song Laoqian and others. In fact many of the people with Feng Keshan were also martial arts experts (including the Duan brothers' father who had known Feng through battle and offered him refuge), so the skills at the time were many.
Li Family Chuojiao: Li Timing 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 : 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 : are the practitioners descended from Feng Keshan's disciples the Liu brothers, Liu Guanlan in particular, spread the art in their county and elsewhere (as they worked in security escort business). Lixian Chuojiao is the most widely spread.
Wei Family Chuojiao: Wei Laofang was a notable disciple of Feng Keshan in Li county, later taught others including Wang Zhanao, Wang Zhanxiong, Xing Laohai and Han Zhantai.
Chuojiao Fanzi : Wei Changyi had studied in Li County with Liu Guanlan (sometimes said to be Feng Keshan). His most notable disciple was Wei Zankui, whose most well known disciple Wu Binlou (吴斌楼) taught throughout Beijing. Commonly known as Beijing Chuojiao Fanzi.
In the greater Baoding area (which includes Lixian amongst many others), Chuojiao had been taught by the second and third generations prominantly. In many cases these styles would often encompass both the old (Raoyang) and later (Lixian) methods, resulting in a very comprehensive system of Chuojiao. In other cases only pieces or remnants would remain and mixed with other local styles.
Wang Family Chuojiao - The Wang brothers (from Gaoyang) studied with their father, Wang Zhiguo and later with Feng Keshan's disciples. Zhang Jingtian and Wang Zhongli are other disciples of Wang Zhiguo which emphasised Chuojiao methods. Notable disciples of Wang Zhanao include Xu Zhaoxiong (whose descendants created the Dongbei Chuojiao style).
Zhao Family Chuojiao - Zhou Laoting propagated the style to disciples, many of which obtained instruction from Feng Keshan directly, including Zhao Laozhi. Later his teachings were propagated in the villages of Gaoyang county where they were consolidated with Liu family Chuojiao from nearby Lixian county. Key descendants included Zhao Zhenhui, Li Kun, Jiang Zhihui.
Also known as Yin family Chuojiao and Gu Zhizi is descended from Yin Chunzhang who studied with Wei Laofang focusing on the 36 methods. Yun Chunzhang then taught his son Yin Ruyan. Since the family had practiced local Duanquan, the Chuojiao was not complete so later generations traveled to study with the Liu family in Lixian county. Key descendants include Yin and Miao Xiaolan.
The derivations 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 - Zhang Family Chuojiao - Zhang Jing Tian, was a disciple of Master Wang Zhiguo. He passed his skills to Zhang Heng Qing, nicknamed “Iron Leg Zhang Heng Qing” taught Chuojiao in Yangzhou to Wang Qing Fu, He Yu Shan, Tian Chun and others
Digong Chuojiao - Gao Family Chuojiao -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 who studied with Zhao Can Yi).
Dongbei Chuojiao - Xu Family Chuojiao - Xu Zhaoxiong, was a sudent of Wang Zhanao (Son of Wang Zhiguo and disciple of Feng Keshan, Wei Laofang). Master Xu brought his Chuojiao and propagated the art in Dongbei areas (Liaoning etc). This is also known as Dongbei Chuojiao.
Dongbei Chuojiao - Hu Family Chuojiao - 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 with the Duan brothers inRaoyang. He taught sequences of Wen Tang Zi (Scholarly Sequences) to students in the city of Shenyang inLiaoning Province, that he was said to have created after studying with the Duan brothers in Rao Yang. It is said that he mastered great Duan family’s short kicks. This is 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 (Water Margin Boxing), Ma Shi Tongbei (Ma Family Tongbei), Chuojiao Dai Fanshou (Chuojiao with Rotating Hands), Yuanyang Tui (Mandarin Duck Kicks), Ditangquan (Ground Tumbling Boxing) and others.
Taiping Chuojiao System
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. Below a few of the most common that we train daily are listed:
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. Some of these are listed below:
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 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 Chui ( 金刚捶 8 sequences Jingang Strikes)
- Jingang Jiazi ( 金刚架 Framework Set)
- Jingang Sanshou ( 金刚散手 2 man combat set)
- Si Da Jingang ( 四大金刚拳 4 Great Guards Jingang)
- Babu Jingang (八步金刚拳 8 Steps Jingang)
- Dali Jingang (大力金刚拳 Strong Jingang)
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 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 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 (二郎拳 8 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. Chuojiao Master Feng Keshan acquired these skills with masters in Jining whilst he was with his teacher Wang Xiang).
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 (华拳 Hua Boxing)
- Hua Quan Sanshou (华拳散手 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. These combinations 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
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) is 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 specialised and differentiated skills of Chuojiao are often referred to as Xiao Chuojiao (or Lesser Chuojiao). This is because there are fewer practitioners and seldom are the contents known. Here most Chuojiao styles deviate because Zhao Canyi taught different skills and often these are from other styles or in fact styles in themselves. Every generation would contribute to these methods and additionally, later generation masters created or adopted methods/sets from other styles as well.
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:
- Da Kun Lun Dao (大昆仑刀 Great Kun Lun Broadsword)
- Xiao Kun Lun Dao (小昆仑刀 Lesser Kun Lun Broadsword)
- Jin Bei Kan Shan Dao (金背砍山刀 Golden Back Chopping Mountain Broadsword)
- Wansheng Dao (万胜刀 Victorious 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)
- Mei Hua Luo Zhi Dao (梅花落枝刀 Plum Blossom Dropping Petals 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.
- Wu Hu Duan Men Qiang (五虎断门枪 5 Tigers Breaking the Gate Spear)
- Zheng Ba Luo Si Qiang (正把罗丝枪 Straight Hold Flexible Shifting Spear)
- Zuo Ba Luo Si Qiang (左把罗丝枪 Left Hold Flexible Shifting Spear)
- Er long Chu Shui Qiang (二龙出水枪 Double Dragons Exit Water 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 3 Treasures Sword)
- Zi Wu Jian (子午剑 Ziwu Sword)
- Qinglong JIan (青龙剑 Green Dragon Sword)
- Qi Xing Dian Dou Wen Rui Jian (七星点抖文儒剑 7 Stars fight pointing Scholarly 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
The staff methods of Chuojiao are not as emphasised as the preferred spear however, tthe Wuhu Panlong (Coliing Staff) is a very thorough method of practice encompassing many of the best techniques from Northern Staff.
- Kai Shan Gun (开山棍 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 5 Tigers Coiling Dragon Staff)
- Da Lian Jie Shaozi Gun (大连节梢子棍 Large Link sectional Staff)
Other / 其他