Chuojiao, meaning “poking foot”, uses various jumps, quick fist sequences, and kicks. It depends heavily on coordination between fist and foot movements, which are used to continuously strike forward; causing some practitioners to refer to it as “falling meteorites.” This technique has the advantage of never offering an opponent the chance to recover. The training employed is unique, to say the least. Heavy weights are attached to a student’s calves; and they are instructed to jump against a wall. Unfortunately, Chuojiao isn’t wide spread, and is taught primarily in northern China.
Chuojiao’s origins date back to the Northern Song Dynasty around the year 960. It gained popularity during the Ming and Qing Dynasties during the centuries 1368-1911. Though it’s not certain, it is believed Chuojiao derived from the Wen Family Boxing Style. Again, history and legend blur the line between history fact and fiction; but it’s believed the founder was Deng Liang, who designed the martial art in accordance with the 18 basic feet plays. It’s said that he created the basics with calculations done with the Chinese abacus (an early counting tool).
Aptly called poking feet boxing, Chuojiao uses strong and smooth maneuvers, and strikes that employ various feet tricks. The feet and hands work in unison, offering longer reach, hence a slight advantage. Strikes can be fatal, yet short. Chuojiao is a hard martial art which uses nine interconnected feet routines. Sometimes the routines are linked together, other times they are practiced separately. These feet maneuvers, or “twin feet plays”, are difficult to master. You can watch an introduction video on feet tricks here.
The scholarly Style
The scholarly Chuojiao style derived from the above form. It’s said that during the years of 1875-1908, the boxer Hu Fengsan travelled to Hebei Province to study with Chuojiao masters. After learning the secrets of the martial art, Hu returned to his home province where he created what is known as the scholarly routine, or Hu-style Chuojiao. The scholarly routine consists of compact and elegant stances, and varied, yet accurate attacks. It uses super-fast fist and feet deliveries. The scholarly style is broken down into these forms:
- 12-move Chuan
- 18-move Chuan
- flying swallow Chuan
- arm Chuan
- turning-ring Chuan
- jade-ring Chuan
- six-method Chuan
- two-eight Chuan
- two-eight feet plays
- 16-move Chuan
- 16-move Chuan
- 32-move Chuan
- soft tumbling Chuan
- one-legged 80-move feet plays
- one-handed 81-move fist plays
Martial-scholar Tumbling Chuan
This Chuojiao style combines the original and scholarly forms to create a powerful combat fighting technique. It uses straight, rounded, release-catch, high-low, and extension-flexion movements; along with still exercise, suppleness, and hardness movements which are accurate, and well planned. Fancy ground tricks are used, such as feet poking tumbles, skill feet poking, leg flicking feet poking, Shaolin feet poking, free-mind feet poking, and eight diagram feet poking. All of which have their own particular rhythms, forms, styles, and techniques.
The Bottom Line
This is an ancient, rarely used, and difficult art to master. Training is strange by most definitions, and grueling. Balance and rhythm are essential to master the foot work, and requires years of training. If you’re interested in this art, it may be difficult to obtain proper training, unless you live in China. However, you can find videos like the one above, or possible online or mailed video courses, though it will likely be taught in the Chinese language. With that said, if you do embark on this journey, you’ll certainly be part of a minority of westerners that understand and know the ancient art of Chuojiao.
Standing United We Pack a Punch