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Posts Tagged ‘chiao’

Brooklyn Monk: Greco for MMA Video (Part 1)

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2015 at 11:58 pm

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In his first year at Shanghai University of Sport, Brooklyn Monk Antonio Graceffo, a wrestling major, was a member of the Chinese traditional wrestling team (Shuai jiao dui). In his second year, he began taking private training in Greco-Roman wrestling, with his coach, Hong Fang Yuan, as well as private san da, and judo training with other coaches. This video is part of a small glimpse into the research Antonio is doing for his PhD dissertation, comparing Chinese traditional wrestling to modern Olympic wrestling.

Watch the video on youtube: https://youtu.be/nLb88MOgHjE

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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 amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
Email Antonio
Antonio@speakingadventure.com
website
http://www.speakingadventure.com
Twitter
http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk
facebook
Brooklyn Monk fan page
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

Brooklyn Monk in 3D
Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/
Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)
http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com
Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)
http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

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Greco-Roman Wrestling SUS (Parts 1 – 3)

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2015 at 9:56 pm

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In his first year at Shanghai University of Sport, Brooklyn Monk Antonio Graceffo, a wrestling major, was a member of the Chinese traditional wrestling team (Shuai jiao dui). In his second year, he began taking private training in Greco-Roman wrestling, with his coach, Hong Fang Yuan, as well as private san da, and judo training with other coaches. This video is part of a small glimpse into the research Antonio is doing for his PhD dissertation, comparing Chinese traditional wrestling to modern Olympic wrestling.

Watch it on youtube: Greco-Roman Wrestling SUS (Part 1) http://youtu.be/KimvmI3Eq-4
Wacth it on youtube: Greco-Roman Wrestling SUS (Part 2)

Greco-Roman Wrestling SUS (Part 3)

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 amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

Email Antonio

Antonio@speakingadventure.com

website

www.speakingadventure.com

Twitter

http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

facebook

Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

Brooklyn Monk in 3D

Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

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Wrestling Stars, Shanghai University of Sport (Part 1)

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2015 at 9:44 pm

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Antonio Graceffo’s wrestling teammate, Zheng Tong, at Shanghai University of Sport interrupted Antonio’s san da training session, asking him to help film a movie-style fight scene. Although great at real wrestling, they had no clue about movie fighting. The final scene lasted about 8 seconds but took over an hour to shoot.

Watch it on youtube: http://youtu.be/XCso3iykpAU

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 amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

Email Antonio

Antonio@speakingadventure.com

website

www.speakingadventure.com

Twitter

http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

facebook

Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

Brooklyn Monk in 3D

Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Shuai Jiao Realist

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2014 at 10:39 am

By Antonio Graceffo
On deciding not to wrestle in the Chinese national shuai jiao championships:

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I originally wrote this on May 10, 2014, after long, painful deliberation on whether or not to pull out of the Chinese national wrestling championships. Today, May 14, 2014 the assistant coach told me the team has been pulled out of the competition for the same reasons I explain in detail below, namely, that while we can take opponents down and get point, we aren’t really using traditional techniques. So, the team is now focused on improving their traditional wrestling skills for the remaining 4 weeks of the semester. And we will hopefully compete, as a team, in the Fall of 2014. I personally will be going to wrestling camp for the whole summer in another country.

My eighth month-aversary is coming up now, eight months that I have been on the Chinese traditional wrestling (Shuai jiao) team at Shanghai University of Sport. Before joining the team, I had spent one year training and fighting MMA fulltime, in Malaysia. The final half of that year, I actually lived in the MMA gym. So, I had picked up some grappling, but I had never truly studied wrestling or Brazilian jujitsu. In fact, the only, actual wrestling training I had before becoming the first foreigner on the universityteam was a three week traditional wrestling camp in Beijing.
Most of my teammates at the university grew up in sports schools in China. My best friend on the team, Zheng Tong, for example, lived in a sports school, from age 9, learning Greco Roman wrestling. The other guys on the team have similar stories. The ones with the least training spent 5 years learning Greco, before coming to train at the university. One of the guys actually grew up in a sports school where he majored in Chinese traditional wrestling. So, he has the best traditional wrestling on the team.
During my first seven months on the team, while we were supposed to be doing Chinese traditional wrestling, the coach would often give us a choice of what to work on. And we all inevitably chose freestyle or Greco Roman wrestling. While I tried to learn as much of the Chinese wrestling as I could, I simply liked freestyle better. Freestyle just seemed to focus on effectiveness, rather than tradition. Because we have three codes of wrestling on our team, four if you count MMA wrestling, we are constantly exchanging techniques, and mixing and matching them when we wrestle. And this is exactly what happens in MMA gyms. So, I felt very much at home with my team.
The difference between Shuai jiao and freestyle wrestling, to me, is analogous to the difference between, say karate and MMA kick boxing. In Karate, you do a movement or us a kick simply because it is karate, and not because you have evaluated it and determined it to be the best way to move or kick. In an MMA gym, on the other hand, fighters take from all disciplines, based on effectiveness. When we practice kick boxing, although most gyms will tend to have a Muay Thai base, they will add in EVERYTHING; kyokushin, 70’s style kick boxing, taekwondo…whatever techniques the MMA guys see and like, they simply add to their arsenal. Here in China, we all cross train in san da, Chinese kick boxing, but, we don’t throw away the muay Thai. Some of my MMA training partners have kung fu or wing chun backgrounds. One was even a savat competitor. And we simply take the best of everything, add it together, and call it kick boxing or striking for MMA.
The university wrestling team is like this too. The guys are really good at upper body control because of the Chinese wrestling training. But they can also do upper body strength throws from Greco. They add in leg grabs and shoots from freestyle. They all have good leg hooking, sweeping, and tripping from Chinese wrestling. Next, I came along with my MMA grappling and a number of the guys have adopted the BJJ sit through takedown and a few others that I have shown them. Some of us have had san da training, so we bring the san da throws to the wrestling room.
But true Shuai jiao is different. It’s not just about taking your opponent down. It’s about mastering the real, Chinese traditional techniques. And that takes practice. It starts with ji ben gong, basic kung fu style exercise, and evolves into drills and throws. Until about a month ago, in our sparring, and even in a huge tournament that we competed in, we all just used whatever techniques we wanted, as long as they didn’t break the rules. My teammates always joke with me that I am the king of the one point throws, for example, because I always go down with my opponent, resulting in a one point penalty, reducing my two-point throw to a one-point throw. While going down with the opponent is frowned upon in Shuai jiao, it’s a good habit in both MMA and freestyle wrestling.
Looking at the photos and videos from the tournament, I see my teammates doing body slams and body locks, saltos, a lot of lag grabs and high crotch throws… all sorts of freestyle wrestling techniques that are legal in Chinese wrestling but that are not real Chinese techniques. On the same videos, I see the kids from the sports high school utilizing the traditional Chinese throws.
Do to my age, 47, and the accumulation of injuries which severely limit my range of motion, when the team is doing Chinese drills or acrobatics, the coach excuses me from regular training. Instead, he chooses one of my teammates to free spar with me, until the team is ready to change into their Shuai jiao jackets. Then I rejoin the team for Shuai jiao sparring.
The other day at practice, while my team worked on techniques for the national championships, I did free wrestling with Chen Zengxin, who has been training and competing in Greco Roman wrestling since age 4. He is 22 now and has just retired from national and international level Greco competition. He has just started studying at the university and has only been on our team for a few weeks. When we trained together that day, we didn’t wear jackets, because he doesn’t know Chinese wrestling yet. We just trained freestyle. Or, more accurately, he told me I could do freestyle and he would do Greco. It didn’t matter. I never managed to take him down or even take his leg. I learned a lot from him. And obviously, he took me down at will. I did manage to pull him down with me once or twice, but as a rule, he could have literally killed me with his Greco skill at any moment.
I was so grateful to have a chance to work with a championship level wrestler like Chen Zengxin. And I felt that experience had more impact on my life and development as a wrestler/fighter than would one more session of Shuai jiao.
This realization was like a wakeup call. I don’t seem to be learning Shuai jiao anymore. I am just learning more and better wrestling, which is fine for my personal goal of being a better wrestler and fight. But I need to be realistic about my involvement in Shuai jiao.
Over the last two weeks, as my team has been concentrating on the national Shuai jiao championships, they have been training in traditional wrestling with ferocity. And, I realized I have no place in the national championships. I almost never do traditional wrestling. Every session that I am given a choice of what to work on, I opt for freestyle. My freestyle is really coming along. And even freestyle wrestling I learn for the purpose of being a better MMA fighter, not to really compete in freestyle wrestling. So, I think none of my styles is pure.
After free that day, we sparred 8 rounds of match sparring in Chinese traditional wrestling, and this confirmed for me that I have no idea what I am doing in that sport.
Looking back over photos and videos of training and sparring, I see that it is incredibly rare that I even grab my opponent’s jacket, which is the whole point of Chinese wrestling. Instead, all of my throws are from body locks and taking a leg. Until a few weeks ago, my teammates were fighting that way too, using a combination of Greco and freestyle. So, it just seemed to be the normal culture of our team. But now that the nationals are just weeks away, the guys are all strictly adhering to traditional rules. In fact, when we were choosing partners today, Wang YeChao, the team captain and one of my best friends, actually refused to partner with me. He said, “I want to train for nationals.”
That sort of hurt.
The coach doesn’t want Chen Zengxin to wrestle in nationals because he has only been with our team a few weeks and has literally zero Chinese wrestling skill, although he can still win, using Greco. We had a guest trainer that day, and he kept scolding Chen Zengxin because his techniques all came from Greco. The trainer kept yelling, “Grab the jacket! That’s what it’s there for.
As for my personal development as a wrestler, even now that my teammates are ratcheting up their skills and that I am no longer allowed to break the rules at will, I get some points from reversals. The thing I am proud of is that even though they are fighting with real intensity, I still manage to turn most of their two-point throws into one-point throws by pulling them down with me. All except Chen Zengxin, that is. He probably threw me about 25 times that day. About 70% of those throws, I managed to hook an ankle or a leg and throw him over my head as I fell, and YET, he would simply land on his feet. He is really amazing.
As for Shuai jiao, I am writing my doctoral dissertation on the differences and similarities between Chinese Shuai jiao and modern freestyle wrestling. I think today was one of those “Ah, ha!” moments, where I just discovered a new aspect of wrestling culture to explore. Different from freestyle wresting, traditional wrestling means “traditional wrestling.” It can’t change. It can’t be added to or taken away from. And no matter how many matches you win, you are either doing traditional wrestling or you aren’t.
Backing out of nationals changes very little about my training. I will continue to train hard with the team, and learn as much as I can. I simply won’t go to nationals. I think in proper Chinese traditional wrestling competition with rules that say you can only clinch for 3 seconds before taking someone down, or can only hold a leg for 3 seconds, or where they may penalize me for throwing from body lock or from sacrifice throws, I think it would just be a terrible experience of getting both beat up and demoralized to wrestle in a code where I am powerless against the best guys in the country. After all, it’s their sport. This decision may even be mute as the nationals seem to be right around the same time as my dissertation proposal defense. When I get the official dates, it may turn out I couldn’t have done both anyway.
I have about 5 weeks of school left. After my proposal defense I plan to shoot off to Cambodia and Singapore to train in freestyle wrestling and MMA for most of the summer. At some point I want to learn judo. Also, if I had a chance to study Greco, that would be awesome. So much to learn…
Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, 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 amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
Twitter
http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk
facebook
Brooklyn Monk fan page
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1
Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)
http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Pushing Yourself: Four vs. One MMA Fight Night (Parts 1 and 2)

In Uncategorized on March 17, 2014 at 1:10 am

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It wasn’t about winning or losing, it was about endurance, finding your limits and pushing yourself as far as you can. At Fighters Unite Shanghai, fight night, March 13, 2014, Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo gets an opportunity to get into a ring with 3 professional san da fighters and one amateur MMA fighter on the same night. For 9 months prior to this event, Antonio had been training on the traditional Chinese wrestling team at Shanghai University of Sport, where he also cross-trains in san da. As the Monk has notoriously poor speed and kicking ability, the question he hoped to answer was whether or not he could weather the fast and powerful kicks of the san da fighters and if he could get them to the ground before they Ko’d him. On a personal level, he wanted to push himself, to see if he could fight more than once in the same night.
On the same night, Coach Silas Maynard took on three opponents and simply laughed about it.
Pushing Yourself: Four vs. One MMA Fight Night (Part 1)

Pushing Yourself: Four vs. One MMA Fight Night (Part 2)

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 amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
Email Antonio
Antonio@speakingadventure.com
website
http://www.speakingadventure.com
Twitter
http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk
facebook: Brooklyn Monk fan page
Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE
http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)
http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com
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San Da, Shanghai University of Sport (Parts 1 through 4)

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2014 at 2:53 am

IMG_4227 IMG_4234 IMG_4263 ?????????????   San Da is a Chinese kickbixng art which includes kicks, punches, and wrestling takedowns. In September, 2013, Antonio Graceffo began studying for a PhD at Shanghai University of Sport, where he is writing his dissertation (in Chinese) about comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. San Da is included in his research because of its wrestling component. Special guest star, Aj Richardi, US San Da fighter and Masters Degree student at Shanghai University of Sport.

San Da, Shanghai University of Sport (Part 1)

http://youtu.be/uVTu9jKeh-g

San Da, Shanghai University of Sport (Part 2)

http://youtu.be/LKdqJ5lvAE0

San Da, Shanghai University of Sport (Part 3)

San Da, Shanghai University of Sport (Part 4)

 

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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 amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com Email Antonio Antonio@speakingadventure.com website www.speakingadventure.com Twitter http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk facebook Brooklyn Monk fan page Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1 Brooklyn Monk in 3D Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/ Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor) http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor) http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Shuai Jiao in Kung Fu Magazine

In Uncategorized on January 28, 2014 at 1:26 am

Shuai Jiao in Kung Fu Magazine

My Shuai Jiao (Chinese wrestling) story is running in Kung Fu magazine in America. And my teammates’ pictures are going around the world. Just goes to show you, you can be born in Jiangsu province and still become a media star in America. Isn’t that the Chinese dream?
The photo for the Shuaijiao article is from the Shanghai BJJ and Wrestling Tournament in November 2013. I hurt my shoulder warming up, about an hour before I had to fight. I couldnt lift my arm. And my teammates had to help me put on my wrestling jacket. But I went in there and fought. The shoulder is STILL screwed up and painful. Antonio Graceffo (安东尼)

Shuaijiao Wrestling, Shanghai University of Sport (Parts 1 and 2)

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2014 at 12:58 am

???????? ???????? SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC In September, 2013, Antonio Graceffo began studying for a PhD at Shanghai University of Sport, where he is writing his dissertation (in Chinese) about comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. While studying at the university he trains and competes as a member of the Chinese traditional wrestling (shuaijiao) team. Most of the other team members come from sports schools where they learned freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling. The team focuses on traditional wrestling but also practices free style and Greco. Antonio periodically teaches his teammates some moves from MMA grappling. It’s interesting to compare the different styles of wrestling, and to see how they would translate into MMA competition. Many of the instincts of a freestyle or Greco wrestler would actually be a bad decision in an MMA fight. For example, on the back wrestlers roll to their stomach to keep from getting pinned. MMA fighters roll to their back, so they can keep fighting and avoid the choke.

Shuaijiao Wrestling, Shanghai University of Sport (Part 1)

http://youtu.be/lS_YMKHP0gU

Shuaijiao Wrestling, Shanghai University of Sport (Part 2)

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 amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com Email Antonio Antonio@speakingadventure.com website www.speakingadventure.com Twitter http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk facebook Brooklyn Monk fan page Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1 Brooklyn Monk in 3D Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/ Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor) http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor) http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Traditional Chinese Wrestling (Shuai Jiao) Sparring, Beijing

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2013 at 11:51 pm

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It had long been a dream of Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo to study Shuai Jiao, traditional Chinese wrestling. In the summer of 2013, Antonio finally got his wish and began a three-year long study of Chinese traditional and ethnic grappling systems. This first video, shot in Beijing, comes at the end of his first month of Shuai Jiao training at the Wang Wen Yong wrestling school, under Meng Sifu,.

Prior to this month of training, Antonio only had experience with MMA grappling and had never officially studied western or freestyle wrestling.

Watch: Traditional Chinese Wrestling (Shuai Jiao) Sparring, Beijing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JKhNhvw7-U

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 amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

Email Antonio

Antonio@speakingadventure.com

website

www.speakingadventure.com

Twitter

http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

facebook

Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

 

Brooklyn Monk in 3D

Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

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 amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

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