Chinese grappling arts and BJJ

Discussion in 'Brazilian Jiu Jitsu' started by Vince Millett, May 16, 2017.

  1. Vince Millett

    Vince Millett Haec manus inimica tyrannis MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Here's a blog post I wrote a little while back reviewing four books on Chinese grappling techniques.

    Link removed.

    Apart from Judo, Sambo and wrestling, does anyone here use techniques from other arts in their BJJ, particularly Chinese arts? Books like these have been around for years and many BJJ people have trained in other martial arts. What has worked for you in a BJJ context?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2017
  2. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    I found Tim cartmells effortless combat throws to be really usefull in nogi wrestling and also in judo.

    specifically his dead angle concept, and a lot of his discussion on connection.
  3. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Sorry Vince, but site rules don't permit links back to personal sites.

    Please do though post the wording here for discussion.
  4. Vince Millett

    Vince Millett Haec manus inimica tyrannis MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Ah - probably broke a forum rule (sorry!). My bad.

    Yeah. I'm going to add that then telling people how to get round the forum rules is also not on :)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2017
  5. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    whe you have enough posts, you can put the blog as part of your signature on every post!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2017
  6. Vince Millett

    Vince Millett Haec manus inimica tyrannis MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Chinese grappling arts for BJJ fighters – four short book reviews

    I train in BJJ – I’m a blue belt in my mid 50s who has been training a little under three years. However, when I was in my teens, I did a fair amount of Judo, a couple of years of Tomiki Aikido and I dabbled in a few other combat arts. All at a very low level of achievement, I hasten to add!

    Any great martial artists I have ever seen, while being of high rank in their chosen arts, seem to have at least done some previous training or some cross training in other arts. So, I’m very open to the idea of looking at other grappling based arts, partly because there may well be things to learn but also simply because they’re interesting.

    Recently I’ve bought a few books, all of which are easily available via Ebay or Amazon, so here are some quick reviews. These are all relating to Chinese forms of grappling. I was unaware until recently that within the broad world of Kung Fu or Wu Shu, there are grappling arts. Usually, they are not taught separately from the striking arts – they are a sub-section of those arts. However, like all current martial arts which claim to be “traditional”, they have been influenced by the world around them and continue to evolve.

    I am looking at these books from the point of view of a BJJ practitioner. BJJ has specialised in grappling, just as judo has in throws and takedowns and boxing has in punching. So, if I criticise any of these books, it is from a particular perspective, that of an art that has figured out the hard way what works and what doesn’t when grappling, although I’m trying to be as objective as I can. No disrespect meant to the authors!

    There are three books on Chin Na and one on San Shou (also known as Shuai Jiao).


    Chin Na Fa – Traditional Chinese Submission Grappling
    Liu Jinsheg and Zhao Jiang, translated by Tim Cartmell.

    The translator, Tim Cartmell, is a BJJ black belt but had a very solid background in Chinese arts first. The book was written by a police officer in 1935 and is, in some ways, perhaps the most interesting. Here’s a quote from the author’s preface:

    “ Besides Chinese wrestling, the most popular arts are the Shaolin and Wudang styles of kung fu…Those who have practiced these arts for twenty or thirty years have never defeated anyone who has practiced Western boxing or Judo. Why is this? …they lack practical methods and spirit and have lost the true transmissions of their ancestors.”

    The book therefore aimed to teach some practical grappling techniques that could be used in self defence or in a police arrest context and that could be practiced safely with a partner. The book mostly covers standing wrist and arm lock techniques but does cover some techniques on the ground and some that will be familiar to BJJ practitioners, such as the guillotine choke, cross collar choke and the classic straight armbar (here called Mounting the Horse). They’re often applied slightly differently from BJJ. My observation is that when we apply many BJJ techniques, we apply them with the assumption that our opponent also knows grappling and how to escape. This mostly won’t be the case in a real life confrontation, so the fact that we might see “holes” in some of the techniques in this book is not necessarily a problem. I took quite a liking to this book. It’s not long but it’s worth a read if you’re interested in self defence without striking or to supplement striking. This is a nice book to have in your martial arts library because of its historical context.


    Comprehensive Applications of Shaolin Chin Na – the practical defense of Chinese seizing arts for all styles
    Dr Yang Jwing-Ming

    This was published in 1993. This is the longest of the books reviewed here and goes into a fair amount of details on many finger, wrist, elbow and shoulder locks. If it has a weakness, like many traditional martial arts books, it shows slightly unrealistic attacks from too far away. The Chin Na demonstrated is similar in many ways to Aikido but, I think, much more realistically applied even taking my previous comment into account. It does, however, often show the attacker in low, lunging Chinese Kung Fu stances. There are easy escapes from some of the joint locks if you know grappling but my previous observation applies. In a self defence situation, an assailant is unlikely to know these escapes. The book also makes the point that Chin Na is applied in conjunction with striking in a real scenario. There’s a lot of content in this one, with decent photographs.


    Chin Na In Ground Fighting – principles, theory and submission holds for all martial styles
    Al Arsenault and Joe Faulise

    This book was published in 2003 and has a foreword by Dr Yang Jwing-Ming who wrote the previous book in this list. Published after the advent of BJJ outside Brazil, the birth of MMA and the UFC, it references them without ever actually mentioning BJJ (unless I missed it). This book is not traditional Chin Na as such. The authors have tried to apply traditional Chin Na principles and techniques to ground fighting. They had considerable backgrounds in other martial arts, including Judo and traditional Jiu Jitsu forms as well as striking arts. Any BJJ practitioner interested in adding some nasty self defence content to their BJJ repertoire should consider checking this book out. In some ways it’s more practical than the previous two books for a BJJ fighter – but you won’t be able to apply most of this in training or tournaments! There are some very interesting ideas, although I ignored the section on pressure points and meridians.


    Chinese Fast Wrestling for Fighting – the art of San Shou Kuai Jiao. Throws, takedowns and groundfighting.
    Liang Shou-Yu and Tai D Ngo

    Shuai Jiao is Chinese jacket wrestling, similar in some ways to Judo with big throws and foot sweeps. Once again, this book shows attackers throwing punches or kicks from too far out and a few of the techniques look a little unlikely to be effective against someone throwing knuckles from closer in. However, I’ve seen some YouTube footage of Shuai Jiao practitioners competing without strikes (including in Judo tournaments under Judo rules) and it is definitely a practical art where people train with fully resisting opponents, just like BJJ or Judo. This stuff works. There is a short section on ground controlling techniques but any BJJ fighter or wrestler will see easy escapes from some of the positions shown. The point remains that these traditional arts were not originally designed for people to compete against other people with the same training in a sportive context, so this is a minor criticism. I don’t think any ground techniques are used in Shuai Jiao competitions, however. In the same way that Judo removed certain techniques from traditional Jiu Jitsu to enable safe competition, Shuai Jiao has evolved. If you have a Judo background or enjoy the standing element of BJJ this book is worth acquiring.

    There is a lot of footage of Chin Na and Shuai Jiao available on YouTube. Some of it is terrible and will not show these arts in a good light. There are, however, some excellent clips so it’s worth doing some digging and having a look before investing in these books.
  7. Martinroy

    Martinroy Valued Member

    Chinese have long history in all kind of combat games .... i think all popular and emerging games today, are the new form of Chinese old and historical games.....
  8. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Except all the ones that arent
  9. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    I practice Pak Mei (White Eyebrow) and it is very much a "grab and strike" kind of style. Busting out hand shapes such as "Tiger claw" and "Eagle claw" which are wrist or lapel grabs, with one hand, pull or twist and strike with the other.

    I later then took up Wrestling and Submission Wrestling. And I discovered I was using moves and motions already in my kung fu forms but shown in the eyes of how my Sifu interpreted the moves.

    One move was a wrist grab, bring their arm across your body and elbow their elbow or head. In wrestling, it's similar to essentially a 2on1/Russian arm tie.

    Anyhoo, so I go up to my Sifu and we're talking about "one move, dozens of uses" etc. And how different students take away the style and make it their own. So I'm a little more 'grappley' compared to another of my colleagues.

    I loved cross training when I had the time and energy. My Kung Fu gave me a great base, flexibility and foot work. I took up Muay Thai and that helped with some extra power gen in my strikes and my wrestling helped with my understanding of body mechanics in regards to throws and locks, and opened up other avenues of attacks.
    Vince Millett likes this.
  10. Vince Millett

    Vince Millett Haec manus inimica tyrannis MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Don't be put off by the slightly provocative title...but this worth a quick watch. It's about karate and kung fu. Jesse Enkamp is quite pro grappling and has roots in traditional Okinawan karate styles that use a lot of "grab and strike".
    Mushroom likes this.
  11. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    "The point remains that these traditional arts were not originally designed for people to compete against other people with the same training in a sportive context,"

    Shuai Jiao at least has a pretty long history of sporting competition against those with the same training . YouKnowWho's teacher was the heavyweight (I think) division victor in the last big wrestling comp before they were ended due to Japanese invasion.
  12. Vince Millett

    Vince Millett Haec manus inimica tyrannis MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I guess I meant the Chin Na a little more than the Shuai Jiao...

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