The Secrets of Shuai Jiao Chinese Wrestling

Last updated on 02.02.2023 by

If you think grappling in a jacket started with judo, you would actually be wrong. In China, they have been using similar throws for thousands of years. The modern version of this style of Chinese wrestling is called Shuai Jiao.

It’s a style of grappling that has a long history that not many grapplers know about. That’s why we put this together to tell you the secrets of Shuai Jiao Chinese wrestling. Going over its history and how it can help your BJJ game.

What is Shuai Jiao Chinese Wrestling? 

Shuai Jiao
Credit: YouTube

For those that don’t know, Shuai Jiao (also called Shuai Chiao) is a form of jacket wrestling practiced in China. It has many similarities to Judo, but the techniques used within the martial art were first developed centuries ago.

Earlier Wrestling Styles That Influenced Shuai Jiao

Shuai Jiao was said to have developed off of an earlier form of Chinese wrestling called “Jiao Di.” In English, this phrase translates to horn-butting.

This was a style of wrestling where wrestlers would wear horned helmets. Each wrestler would headbutt the other while trying to take their opponent to the ground.

It was also said to be developed from another form of ancient Chinese wrestling called “Jiao Li.” A style of wrestling that dates back to the Zhou Dynasty. It consisted of throwing techniques along with strikes, joint locks, and pressure point holds.

As time went on, each region of China would specialize in their own form of wrestling. Much like how there were different styles of wrestling practiced throughout Europe.

The Development of Modern Shuai Jiao

The development of modern Shuai Jiao(Shuai Ciao) as it’s practiced today began to be established in the early 1900s. It was introduced into the Central Guoshu Academy by a martial artist and educator named Ma Liang.

Ma Liang first called the style of wrestling Shuaijiao. It was formalized in 1917 in the manual called Zhonghua Xin Wushu (New Chinese Martial Arts) written by Liang.

The academy changed the name to Shuai Jiao in 1928 when they added formal rules to the competitions. After formalizing the rules, the first Shuai Jiao competition was held in 1935.

Today, this style of Kung Fu is taught within Chinese military and police academies throughout China. It has also practiced internationally in small niches around the world.

Shuai Jiao Techniques

Shuai Jiao Chinese Wrestling Techniques
Credit: YouTube

Shuai Jiao uses techniques that are very similar to those used in Judo or wrestling. We found these two videos that break down some effective Shuai Jiao Chinese wrestling techniques.

Shuai Jiao Hip Throw

Shuai Jiao teaches a hip throw that is very similar to the Ippon Seoi Nage that is taught within Judo. Just with a little different twist.

The Shuai Jiao version uses just one sleeve grip that you use to counter an opponent’s collar grab. Just like with the traditional Ippon Seoi Nage, you take your penetration step, backstep, and turn. 

As you step in, use the sleeve grip to lift your opponent up and off-balance. Now, in a traditional Seoi Nage, you use two hands on the arm to complete the throw. In the Shuai Jiao version, you control your opponent’s arm with just one hand.

Your other hand cups their knee to assist you on the lift-off to take them up and over.

Shuai Jiao Inside Trip Variation

Shuai Jiao also practices a version of the inside trip that’s commonly done in freestyle wrestling. The big difference here being the setup of the trip and how you hook the leg.

Instead of turning your opponent to set it up like you would in freestyle wrestling or BJJ, you go right in. Taking a penetration step in with your back foot following.

You then hook at your opponent’s calf and simply give them a two-handed push to the chest. Just a short little jolt as you hook their calf to knock them over.

Shuai Jiao Uniforms 

Shuai Jiao Chinese Wrestling Uniforms
Credit: YouTube

The Shuai Jiao uniforms are rather unique and different from any other grappling martial art. They consist of four pieces of clothing.

  • Shuai Jiao Gi Jacket(Shuai Jiao Yi): A short-sleeved jacket with short sleeves similar to Kyokushin Karate.
  • Gi Pants (Shuai Jiao Kuzi)
  • Wrestling Shoes
  • Belt

The Rules of Shuai Jiao

This grappling art may look like Judo and freestyle wrestling blended together, but the rules of competition are uniquely Shuai Chiao. Here is a brief explanation of a Shuai Chiao wrestling match.

  • Match Time: 2 Rounds/3 Mins Each (Woman’s Matches 2 Mins)
  • A 3rd round at 90 seconds is added in case of a tie.
  • If there’s still a tie after three rounds, another tiebreaker round is added, where the first point wins.
  • Win by earning the most points.
  • A competitor that gains a 6 point lead automatically wins the round.

Point System

  • 3 Points: A perfect throw where the opponent lands on their back and the thrower maintains perfect balance.
  • 2 Points: Two point throws are where both knees, hands, elbows, or one of each touch the mat. The thrower must also remain standing.
  • 1 Point: One hand, knee, or elbow touches the mat during a throw. A point is also given if an opponent steps out of bounds or the thrower lands on top of them.

Shuai Jiao Belt System

In Shuai Jiao, a unique belt system is used to show the rank of students and teachers. Adults go through six low ranking belts before reaching the black belt rank.

  • White Belt
  • Green Belt
  • Green-Blue Belt
  • Blue 1
  • Blue 2
  • Blue 3
  • Black Belt

Once a black belt, a Shuai Jiao practitioner will earn higher black belt ranks by years practiced, like in BJJ. 

How can Shuai Jiao Help Your BJJ? 

Shuai Jiao Chinese wrestling can definitely benefit your BJJ game. It has many of the same elements as wrestling and Judo all rolled into one. 

Also, many techniques that you probably already know, but with different setups. These setups can open your game up and help improve your takedowns and throws.

In Summary

If you run into someone that practices Shuai Jiao on your jiu jitsu journey, be open to learning their techniques. Learning some Shuai Jiao wrestling techniques will benefit your BJJ by improving your ability to get opponents to the mat.

Hitting your teammates and opponents with these different takedown setups will leave them incredibly annoyed and frustrated. It might even lead them to go learn some Shuai Jiao techniques. 

Image Credit: Wikipedia