Chuo Jiao or Chuojiao meaning “Poking Foot” in Mandarin, originated in Northern China. The Chinese martial arts saying, “Hands of the south and legs of the north and even the gods will fear you”, commonly referred to the northern leg system of Chuo Jiao.
It is believed that this ancient martial art evolved during the Song Dynasty (960-1127) and became popular during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). A well-known martial artist for his abilities and weaponry, Wu Bin Lou, popularized the art in Beijing during the 1920s. Wu Bin Lou believed Chuo Jiao came from the Wang Family Boxing style of the Song Dynasty (960–1279).
Chuo Jiao is accredited to Deng Liang, who is said to have created the style on the basis of the 18 basic foot movements. He developed the basics based on the calculations of the Chinese abacus to form a sequence of foot movements that incorporated 108 tricks.
Legend has it that he later taught the monk Zhou Tong the style, who later passed it on to his pupil General Yue Fei.
Some of the outlaws who appear in the famous novel The Water Margin, such as Wu Song, were experts in this style; this is why Chuo Jiao Quan was alternately known as the “Water Margin Outlaw style”. It is also known as Yuanyang Tui or “Mandarin Duck Leg.” In The Water Margin’s 28th chapter, entitled “Drunken Wu Song beats Jiang Menshen innkeeper”, it mentions that Wu Song uses the following moves: “step of nephrite ring, leg of mandarin duck”.
Feng Keshan, a general in the failed Taiping Rebellion of the early 19th century, was a Chuo Jiao Fanzi Quan master. After the failure of the rebellion, Feng went into seclusion with two other experts, Tang Youyi in Hebei Province in Raoyang, where he taught Fanzi Quan, which emphasizes the hands, to the Wang family and Chuo Jiao, which emphasizes the feet, to the Duan family. During practice, the families would exchange techniques.
The styles coiling method relies on the use of patterns and routines in conjunction with stretching and isometric strengthening exercises. Some highlight the similarities between Chuo Jiao and Xing Yi Quan, this is possibly due to a Wen Quan Master, who may have developed both styles.
Although rarely taught outside of China, Chuo Jiao is a fascinating and elegant style that concentrates on kicks from unusual angles, sweeps, blocks and throws. It sometimes includes a series of quick, straight-line punches aimed at the centre of the opponents’ body. The style is physically demanding and requires strong flexible legs. Hands and feet work well together for better advantage and longer reach. Its strikes are short but fatal. Hardness is the core of Chuo Jiao, which it combines with suppleness.
The Way of the Warrior: Martial Arts and Fighting Styles from Around the World 15 Sept 2008
by Chris Crudelli