Pankration, Gladiators, shuai jiao, Mongolia, kung fu, Frank Gotch, san da, the Olympics, Hulk Hogan, and MMA…this book is based on one of the strangest wrestling dissertations ever presented. In 2013, Martial arts author and traveler Antonio Graceffo was awarded a scholarship to study for a PhD at Shanghai University of Sport. His major was Chinese traditional martial arts, and his dissertation title was “A Cross Cultural Comparison of Chinese and Western Wrestling.” The entire three-year course was taught in Chinese, during which time, Antonio conducted both academic and field research, training with the wrestling team, learning Chinese traditional shuai jiao wrestling, as well as Greco Roman and freestyle wrestling. He also cross-trained in Chinese san da and Japanese judo, as these arts have connections to Chinese wrestling. Research he conducted outside of China included wrestling in Cambodia, san da in Vietnam, catch wrestling in Singapore, and professional wrestling school in New York. He graduated in 2016 and then set about translating his dissertation back into English. In Antonio’s own words, “A standard PhD dissertation is a dry, academic affair with all of the life sucked out of it.” This book, however, is not the actual dissertation. It is an English language version with all of the interesting bits put back in.
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