The ancient practice of Lei Tai or Â“fighting on the platformÂ’, were actually Wushu (Chinese martial arts) matches done on a platform utilizing a mixture of boxing and wrestling. It was practiced for thousand of years in China. Lei Tai is a full contact kung fu/wushu fighting. Yet it was different from the two in Â– among other things Â– the way of elimination.
LEI TAI: "FIGHTING ON THE PLATFORM"
The ancient practice of Lei Tai or “fighting on the platform’, were actually wushu (Chinese martial arts) matches done on a platform utilizing a mixture of boxing and wrestling. It was practiced for thousand of years in China. Lei Tai is a full contact kung fu/wushu fighting. Yet it was different from the two in – among other things – the way of elimination. One who won the fight was called the “platform-occupier” and lost his position as such whenever he was defeated by a challenger. The latter become the occupier ready to meet the next challenger. This went on until the challenge was made and the occupier was proclaimed the champion or final victor.
This form of fighting dates back to the Chou Dynasty (1100 – 771 BC), when warriors were required to practice chiao ti, a military drill in which they battled each other with horns on their head. During the Warring States period (475 – 221 BC), wushu matches become very common among the rank and file.
Shuai-chiao's earliest recorded use was by the Yellow Emperor of China, 2697 B.C. against the rebel enemy Chih-yiu and his army. They used horned helmets and gored their opponents while using a primitive form of grappling. This early recorded period was first called Chiao-ti (butting with horns). Throughout the centuries, the hands and arms replaced the horns while the techniques increased and improved. The name Chiao-ti also changed and was referred to by many names popular at that time in history.
In the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), matches were often held at foothills with spectators sitting on the slopes. In the region between Shaanxi anf Sichuan, according to the book entitled Stories of Wrestling, crowds from different towns would turn out to watch such matches and cheer the winners as they received the prizes.
During the Sung Dynasty (960 – 1279), fights were conducted on platforms, as called “open-air platforms”. This was probably the earliest recorded martial arts match held on the platform. The classic novel Outlaws of the Marsh which was set mainly in the final years of the Sung dynasty Emperor Hui Zong (1101 – 1125) described the great detail a “combat platform” match between Yan Qing and Ren Yuan.
“It is important in describing this wrestling match, with its various moves. Telling it is slow, but things happened as quickly as a meteorite flashing across the sky.
At fist Yang Qing only crouched at the right, while Ren Yuan stood on the left like a door god. Yan Qing didn’t stir, and the space between them remained empty. Ren Yuan edged around to the right, but Yan Qing only watched the ground on three sides of his rival.
‘If that’s all he is going to do’, mused the champion. ‘I won’t have to move a hand. With one kick, I’ll boot him off the platform.’
Ren Yuan drew nearer. He feinted with his left foot. ‘None of that’! Yan Qing cried. Before Ren could close in, he slipped low past the big man’s left side. Angrily, Ren whirled but Yan weaved and dodged back past the right ribs of his opponent.
Turning his huge body again and again, Ren grew confused, and his feet stumbled. The prodigy darted forward, grasped Ren’s shoulder with his right hand, his crotch with his left, shoved his shoulder under Ren’s chest, and lifted. Five times, he spun with his hapless foe, who was dangling, feet in the air, to the edge of the platform.
‘Down you go’, he yelled and tossed Ren, head first to the ground…this gambit is called the Pirouetting Pigeon. The crowd cheered wildly…..”
Sanshou experts training - Baguio City
In the later years of the Ch’ing Dynasty (1644 – 1911), the platform fighting gained popularity. Today, the same excitement is seen in modern sanshou (sparring) matches.
Ronthoughts Journal - Internal Martial Arts Qì (?) and G?ng (?). ??