In the beginning of evolution, mankind was very animalistic. Survival only for the strong. Man had to survive hunger, natures elements, animal as well as human attacks. Self preservation became a way of life. Most people watched animals and tried to copy their survival techniques. Early man was very ritualistic, chanting and dancing around the campfire. Ritual and self defense combined in a dance, copying the moves of their ancient sacred animals. These movements eventually evolved into a style of self defense.
In Chinese history, records of wrestling style can be traced back to 2697 BC. When it was used between the Emperor Hwang Ti and the rebel Chih Yu, who was known for his wrestling skills. In the era, the term Chiao-Ti (horn locking) was used because, during ritual or practice combatants wore a headdress adorned with horns. When they would grapple with each other, it looked like 2 animals locking horns.
During the Chou dynasty (1122-255 BC), wrestling skills were a prerequisite for all military personnel. Ancient records tell of wrestling tournaments with thousands of competitors, going on for days. Chiao-Ti (now called Shuai-Chiao or throwing horns), had been an excellent exhibition art at festivals and carnivals. Feats of strength and skill would always please a crowd. However, Shuai-Chiao was not the only fighting style around. Bare knuckle fighting, weaponry, horsemanship and archery were also dominant ways of self defense at this time.
In the Chin dynasty (277-419 AD), Shuai-Chiao went from a basic form of self defense into a comprehensive and highly developed martial skill. It relies on the physical laws of nature as well as the strength and weaknesses of the human body. Through trial and error, ancient masters understood that most every fight ends up in a close quarter grapple. They then sought out the most effective ways to gain the advantage when fighting in close. Shuai-Chiao does not rely on just brute strength, but utilizes balance, leverage and circular throwing motions. Using the circular theory from the yin/yang symbol, Shuai-Chiao redirects incoming energy into a throw or takedown. This style of self defense spread far and wide throughout the land. Common folk as well as nobility practiced the art of Throwing Horns.
As times change and man evolves, Shuai-Chiao has evolved in the same way. All fighting arts must change to meet the needs of society or it will no longer be effective. One example of this is when metal weapons were invented, Shuai-Chiao had to adapt it's system to combat the weapons or it would be useless. Many kung fu styles, while evolving, incorporated Shuai-Chiao techniques into their system. Even the monks at the Shaolin temple, borrowed from Shuai-Chiao.
During the Ching dynasty (1644-1911), Shuai-Chiao reached it's zenith. Tournaments were held on a regular basis, bringing champions from all parts of Asia. Rules and weight classes were categorized. In 1928 the Central Kuo Shu Institute added Shuai-Chiao to their tournament schedule as well. One man emerging from this era was Ch'ang, Tung Sheng. Grand master Ch'ang learned the Pao Ting style of Shuai-Chiao (Pao Ting was name of the province were this system evolved). His teacher was the famous wrestling master Chang, Fong Yen. Because of his ability to swiftly circle and capture an opponent, grand master Ch'ang was given the nickname "Flying Butterfly". Ch'angs skill was that of such high caliper, he went undefeated throughout his career. He was one of the greatest grappling masters of our time. Ch'ang also learned the Shaolin arts and Yang style Tai Chi. He took the Yang Tai Chi form, modified it and incorporated it into the Shuai-Chiao system.
Although Ch'ang passed away in 1986, his student Dr. Chi-hsiu Weng has carried on the Shuai-Chiao tradition. Master Weng teaches the Pao Ting style Shuai-Chiao near San Francisco California. Sifu John H. Ervin Jr. began learning the system from master Weng in 1981. Sifu Ervin teaches this art here in Cleveland, Ohio.