Chinese Traditional Wrestling Week 4

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2013 at 8:03 am

SONY DSC ???????? ???????? ????????Birthday Wrestling: Shuai Jiao on the Eve of the Anniversary of my Birth

By Antonio Graceffo

This week in Beijing, I was able to train twice every day. Today was the best day of wrestling sparring I have had. I probably wrestled about 17 or 18 rounds (But the wrestling rounds are short. They end when someone gets thrown.) With the younger guys, I am winning most of the time now. Today, my training brother Lee Yuan, the biggest, strongest and best wrestler on the team was there to wrestle me. Not only have I never beaten him, but usually he wins the standard 5 quick rounds, with little resistance.

This time, I determined, to dig my heels in and not make it easy for him. I need to check the time code on my camera, but I believe it was the longest match I have ever had and that I have ever seen in this club. First of all, today was the first time I was ever able to grab his jacket. Not only did I manage to grab it, but in two places, with both hands. Next, I stuffed take down after take down, with him winning only two throws. Finally, the Sifus told us to stop because we were both exhausted. I really felt like it was a victory. Although I still hadn’t got him down, I held out against him and he couldn’t complete the customary five takedowns. It’s my 46th birthday tomorrow, and I really felt like this was my birthday present, to do so well against the best guy. After a rest, I wrestled one of the younger guys for a couple of rounds, then they threw Lee Yuan back in with me. Unfortunately, I didn’t film this second set of rounds, but I finally managed to drive in, through his defense, and grab a leg.

Lee Yuan is probably as heavy or heavier than me, but much taller. In freestyle wrestling or MMA, I would simply take his legs out from under him with my arms. Being that tall might even make it easier. The problem with doing this type of technique in the Chinese wrestling, however, is the jacket. As soon as the round starts, he grabs my jacket in two positions and can either use it to pull me or to push me off. The few times I have tried to go for a leg, he was able to push me so far away as to make it impossible. Today, when I was wrestling the younger guys, I realized that most of the time when I was able to take their leg it was because they pulled me in close for a hip through. Then, I didn’t have to fight through their grip. I was already close up on them. I could take their leg easily, and take them down.

When Lee Yuan went for a throw, I did the same technique, I dropped and grabbed his leg, solidly with my whole arm and lifted it off the ground. The problem was, however, that he was still holding my jacket in two good positions and was able to push me down, like he was going to just drive my face into the floor. In freestyle or MMA, I simply would have dropped on one knee and taken him down, but in Chinese wrestling, that would mean I lost. So, seeing no other option and with his whole body weight pushing down on my neck, I used a San Da throw which is similar to a judo hip throw, except that instead of throwing the opponent by his arm, you throw him by his leg.

I flung Lee Yuan with all my might, and I went with him. In all fairness, I probably hit the ground first, so he got the point, but it was the first time I had ever taken him down. He flew over my body and landed with a thud. Luckily, his leg was unhurt. He won the next round easily and that was the end of our bout.

It was a good way to end my fourth week of traditional Chinese wrestling training and a good prelude to my birthday.

Back to Shanghai tomorrow, where I will continue to practice the wrestling basic exercises and hopefully soon start learning modern freestyle wrestling at the university. Next month, I will come back to Beijing so the Sifu can monitor my progress.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at

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