Counters against Wrestling

“If you are impressed with Kai's judo throws,” Grandmaster Wong told his senior disciples at the Advanced Combined Shaolin Taijiquan Course held in July/August 2005 in Malaysia, “wait till you see his grappling and wrestling, which are Kai's forte.” Then Grandmaster Wong requested Sifu Kai Uwe Jettkandt to give a systematic and comprehensive session on wrestling attacks and their counters to course participants, most of whom are Shaolin Wahnam instructors.

Sifu Kai's teaching was methodological and effective. For convenience, he divided his presentation into three sections, namely

Sifu Kai explained that first a wrestler took his opponent down on to the floor. Next the wrestler controlled the opponent in wrestling holds. Then, how would a kungfu exponent counter a wrestler's take-downs and holds? The video clips below show some of these lessons. Please note that the video clips were taken impromptu, showing the practice session as it was.

Grandmaster Wong reminded the group that wrestling was a sport, necessarily protected by safety rules. It would be risky to forget this fact and use wrestling in life-death combat. Without the protection of safety rules, many wrestling techniques would expose the wrestlers to dangerous counters.

Thus, kungfu practitioners are correct when they say that they would kill or maim wrestlers attempting to take them down for a wrestling hold, though many people who are unaware of the crucial difference between a sport and a fighting art would scoff at this statement, dismissing it as a cover-up for their inability to defend, which may actually be true in some cases.

There are many kungfu techniques to frustrate a wrestler's take-down without killing or seriously hurting him. In these video clips Sifu Kai shows some of these techniques. Even when a kungfu practitioner fails to prevent a take-down and is pinned to the ground, there are ways to overcome the holds.

Important Note: “Lifting” and “shooting” may result in serious injury to the victim's spine. Some wrestling holds may suffocate the victim. So do not attempt the techniques shown in the video clips unless you are properly trained or supervised by a competent instructor.

Please chick the pictures or the captions below to view the videos

Wrestlers' Lift

wrestling lift

“Lifting” is an important technique a wrestler uses to take an opponent down on the ground. He then lands on the opponent to pin him down. Please be reminded not to attempt this technique unless you are properly trained or supervised by a competent instructor. Should you slip and your training partner does not know how to fall safely, he may break his spine!

Counter against the Lift

counter against the wrestling lift

A good counter against the “lift” is the Shaolin pattern “Butterflies Flying Separately”, as shown in the video clip. Sifu Kai explains that one may strike the opponent with an elbow, but this may enable the opponent to strike back instead.

The Shoot

the shoot

Another important wrestling technique to take down an opponent is called “the shoot”, as demonstrated here by Sifu Kai. In Shaolin Kungfu a similar effect may be obtained with the pattern “Angry Bull Charges at Fence”.

But in the Shaolin pattern the exponent covers himself well against possible counter-strikes before effecting the “charge”. This coverage is absent in Wrestling as it is protected by safety rules. In the first throw, Sifu Kai does so skillfully without hurting his training partner. In the second throw, Eugene breaks fall excellently to prevent injury.

Counter against the Shoot

countering the shoot

A simple way to neutralize the shoot is to move a step back, then counter-strike accordingly, striking downward with “Green Dragon Shoots Pearl” (“Cheng Loong Thou Choui”), striking his temple with “Devil King Wave Fan” (“Kwai Wong Phut Seen”) or striking up the knee with “Golden Cockerel Stands Solitarily” (Kam Kai Thook Lap”) for example.

If a wrestler has grabbed your legs making it impossible for you to move back, hold his sides and fall backward with a kick at his groin using the pattern “Kick the Purple Bell” (“Tor Theak Chi Kam Choong”), simultaneously pushing him aside and away. All the kungfu counters shown here are deadly, capable of maiming or killing the opponent with just one strike. Such counter-attacks are of course not allowed in wrestling.

Countering Lift and Shoot

countering lift and shoot

Sifu Kai demonstrates more counters against the “lift” and the “shoot”. As a wrestler moves in for a “lift” or a “shoot”, move a step backward and strike the vital points at both sides of his collar bones using the pattern “Double Dragons Emerge from Sea” (“Seong Loong Chuit Hoi”).

If he succeeds in grabbing your legs, hold his both sides and fall back, simultaneously kicking up at his groin using the pattern “Reverse Kicking Purple Bell” (“Thor Theak Chi Kam Choong”). Sifu Kai explains that a wrestle often initiates with a false move to the opponent's head.

If you are not in time to move back your front leg to apply “Double Dragons Emerge from Sea”, you can move your back leg a small step backward and stop him with both of your elbows using the pattern “Double Dragons Carry Moon”.

If you wonder whether such strikes by elbows or fingers could be powerful enough to stop a wrestler, take note that this “Carry Moon” pattern accidentally hurt Eugene so deeply that it took him a month of treatment and remedial chi kung to recover. You can read about Eugene's own account here. But of course you need internal force to cause such injury.

Wrestling Hold — Lohan Taking Noon Nap

wrestling - Lohan Taking Noon Nap

After taking his opponent onto the floor, a wrestler uses various holds to pin him. Wrestling holds are another indication that wrestling is a sport. In a real fight if a wrestle could hold his opponent on the floor, he would have broken the opponent's arm or neck, or choke him to death. These, of course, are not allowed in wrestling rules.

Be careful when you hold your training partner on the floor as shown in this video clip. Your body weight on his chest might stop his breathing and kill him accidentally. Take note of his face. When it turns red, release your hold to let him breathe. In Shaolin Kungfu, this wrestling hold can be effected with the pattern “Lohan Taking a Noon Nap” (“Lor Hon Ng Sui”).

Wrestling Hold — Frog Crouching on Ground

wrestling - Frog Crouching on Ground

Sifu Kai demonstrates another wrestling technique to pin an opponent on the floor. This pattern is known in Shaolin Kungfu as “Frog Crouching on Ground”. Sifu Kai's body prevents the opponent's legs from kicking up. He could also break the opponent's arm or elbow his temple. How would you get out of this precarious situation?

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Wrestling Hold — Lohan Riding Dragon

wrestling — Lohan Riding Dragon

A third position in wrestling to pin an opponent to the ground is to sit astride him. This pattern is known in Shaolin Kungfu as “Lohan Riding Dragon” (“Lor Hon Kea Loong”). You can then strike him on his head or chest.

Wrestling Hold — Old Man Pushes Cart

wrestling — Old Man Pushes Cart

From sitting astride, Sifu Kai moves beyond the opponent's legs and pins him to the floor. If the opponent tries to sit up, you can stop him by pushing up at his stomach. If he attacks you with his hands, you can lock them. In Shaolin Kungfu this pattern is called “Old man Pushes Cart” (Lou Hon Thoui Chair”). How would you overcome this and other wrestling holds?

Countering Wrestling Holds — Gold Coin Spinning on Ground

wrestling — Gold Coin Spinning on Ground

Many people erroneously think that kungfu is lacking in floor fighting. In this and subsequent video clips Sifu Kai shows a rich array of kungfu techniques in overcoming these seemingly inescapable wrestling holds. Sifu Anton Skafar pin Sifu Kai to the floor with the pattern “Lohan Taking a Noon Nap”.

Sifu Kai uses his One-Finger Zen to press at a vital point, causing the opponent to loosen his grip. Then Sifu Kai pushes up at Sifu Anton's chin and swings his leg around Sifu Anton's head using the pattern “Gold Coin Spinning on Ground” (“Kam Cheen Lok Teia”). Now Sifu Kai has reversed the combat situation.

Countering Wrestling Holds — Carp Overturns Body

wrestling — Carp Turns Body

Michael Chow pins Sifu Kai to the floor with the pattern “Frog Crouches on Ground”. Sifu Kai controls Michael's left foot so that he could not move his leg about, and Michael's left ear as a handle. Then he raises his body and flips Michael over using the pattern “Crap Overturns Body” (“Lei Yu Fan Sun”), reserving the situation with him now pinning Michael using “Frog Crouches on Ground.”

Countering Wrestling Holds — Naughty Monkey Rolls on Ground (1)

wrestling — Naughty Monkey Rolls on Ground

Sifu Attilio pins Sifu Kai to the floor using “Frog Crouches on Ground”. Sifu Kai first attempts to use “Crap Overturns Body” to overcome the wrestling hold. But despite being a heavy weight, Sifu Attilio is very relaxed, making it difficult for Sifu Kai to flip him over.

So Sifu Kai changes to another kungfu technique using the pattern “Naughty Monkey Rolls on Ground” to turn Sifu Attilio over. Sifu Kai explains that being relaxed is very important in wrestling too. This may come as a big surprise to those who think one only has to use heavy weight and muscular strength in wrestling.

Countering Wrestling Holds — Naughty Monkey Rolls on Ground (2)

wrestling — Naughty Monkey Rolls on Ground

Sifu Robin pins Sifu Kai to the ground using a wrestling hold resembling the kungfu pattern “Lohan Riding Dragon”. First Sifu Kai explains that without appropriate control at strategic points to prevent the wrestler slipping away, it would not be possible to flip the wrestler over.

So Sifu Kai controls Sifu Robin's right arm and right leg. Then he turns his body using the pattern “Naughty Monkey Rolls on Ground” to turn Sifu Robin over, and holds him with the pattern “Old Man Pushes Cart”.

Wrestling Practice

wrestling practice

Participants at the Advanced Combined Shaolin Taijiquan Course, most of whom are Shaolin Wahnam instructors, practice counters against various wrestling holds. The hold shown here is “Lohan Taking Noon Nap” and the counter is “Gold Coin Spinning on Ground”.

Weight and Size are Not Decisive

wrestling practice

If you think that mere weight and muscular strength are decisive factors in combat, here is an excellent example showing that in kungfu even when countering massive wrestlers, this is not necessarily so. Sifu Anton Skafar who is the biggest and heaviest of the group pairs with Sifu Emiko Hsuen, who is the smallest in size and the lightest. Using appropriate technique and internal force, Sifu Emiko skillfully flips over her massive exponent.

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