Articles about Chang Tung Sheng / Chang Dong Sheng (常東昇) and his method of Shuai Jiao / Swai Jiao (摔角) appeared in English language martial arts magazines as early as the late 1970’s but they appeared in a surge in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. A famous teacher with a verified record of fighting matches, including winning the 1933 national guoshu examination matches, most people who practiced Chinese martial arts were very interested in him and his methods.
I had been fortunate, my first Chinese martial arts training in southern Hung Ga had included correct instruction in joint locks, sweeps and throws. Of course, I was already a second degree black belt in Korean Hapkido, so I was knowledgeable and interested in grappling aspects. So when I saw a flyer for Shuai Jiao / Swai Jiao classes I investigated.
It is hard to imagine, but this was a time before the internet. Most Chinese martial arts schools didn’t advertise. They were NOT in the yellow pages. It was frequently word-of-mouth or personal introductions. I was not really sure how long Shihfu Jeng Hsing Ping had been in NYC, but there I was, in a Jeng swai jiao class.
If you understand how most Chinese martial arts schools are administered, it should come as no surprise when I tell you that while the school was Shihfu Jeng Hsing Ping’s, most of the instruction was done by his senior student(s). In particular, during my time there I was taught by James Chin. James was not only Shihfu Jeng’s disciple, he was also a very skilled student of Long Fist. He had trained in the legendary “5 Tigers” school which in New York City had a reputation almost like the Jing Wu! Again, just pure dumb luck, I found quality Chinese martial arts.
I claim no rank at all in Shuai Jiao / Swai Jiao. Another teacher from a different school DID offer me some rank, which I was not interested in. HOWEVER, I consistently tell people the time I spent at Shihfu Jeng’s changed my life. Of course, people know that it was there I met Stephen Laurette who introduced me to Chan Tai-San. Laurette also was a 7 Star Praying Mantis student and introduced me to the system and many of his classmates.
But I also must stress that learning Swai Jiao from James Chin prepared me for learning with Chan Tai-San. It gave me a new appreciation and new angles to look at things. It showed me the grappling that is integral to Chinese martial arts, but so seldom really addressed and trained.
James Chin just put up a new web site at https://www.swaijiao.com/. He has some books and some instructional material that is either already available or will be available soon. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THEM ALL. Perhaps more importantly, if you are in the New York area and have been looking to learn a very real, very complete Chinese martial art method, seek Shihfu Chin out. The Jeng school is authentic and deep. It is the kind of Chinese martial art that is seldom seen and, sadly, which is dying out.
As always, best wishes and go train!