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Nei Jia Internal Kung Fu

Applications - Chin Na: Joint Locks, Grappling and Submission

Chin Na: Control of an Opponent

Application Animated Image : Taijiquan Needle At the Bottom of the Sea (Wu Style) against grab. While there are many other ways to use the Needle At the Bottom of the Sea sequence from Taijiquan, it may be most often demonstrated as a Chin Na (submission joint lock) application against a wrist grab.


by Gerald A. Sharp


Joint Yoga

The joint Yoga-like character of Taijiquan make a variety of joint locks seem to be natural martial applications. There are some very practical applications of Chin Na that exploit the intuitive understanding of body dynamics that is a foundation of Nei Jia kung fu. China Na spans wrestling, grappling, and submission holds. Chin Na is not only a hallmark of Nei Jia Kung Fu but a variety of martial arts, external and internal, Eastern and Western, wrestling, grappling, and submission based arts, that it may be more easily understood than other aspects of Chinese Nei Jia Kung Fu. Because of this, it may be more easily understood some than other aspects of Chinese Nei Jia kung fu.


Chin Na in Chinese Internal Kungfu

The joint Yoga-like character of Neijia Kungfu (Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, or Baguazhang, either practiced individually or in some combination) can employ a variety of joint locks that naturally exploit the intuitive understanding of body dynamics at the foundation of this family of martial arts. Counters for all sorts of Chin Na attacks rely on the ability of the defender to utilize their own internal strength and flexibility inherent in the Yoga-like character of the Internal Martial Arts. The simple truth is that, most of these Chin Na applications work best against inexperienced, unprepared, or otherwise less-flexible opponents.

1. Internal and External Martial Arts

The practice of Nei Jia kung fu may - at least on one level - be described as a martial art built on a yoga-like practice focusing on the use of the joints of the body, rather than on brute force. In this perspective, attacks and counters involving joints and joint locks ought to be completely expected.

The problem with this perspective is not that its wrong but that there is likely to be an implicit assumption that Chin Na may be employed as a series of techniques and practiced as set of drills. The result is a mind set that anticipates an opponent's attack and is ready to quickly retaliate with a prepared counter. This path is valid, but it is the path of external martial arts.

The internal martial arts perspective is more holistic. It is built on a combination of sensitivity with an intuitive knowledge of body dynamics that is developed largely through Tuishou (push hands) practice. In practice, the Tuishou approach is almost entirely situational: anticipating the opponent's actions actually becomes counterproductive. The actions of both the opponents flow together within the context of the situation. In Nei Jia kung fu, the actions are based more on what the opponent is already doing as opposed to anticipating what the practitioner will do.

2. Tendons and Bones Joint Manipulation

In this context, the internal kung fu application of Chin Na becomes spontaneous. Chin Na remains a system of the application of bone breaks, muscle or tendon attacks, and a wide variety of submission holds. The difference is that Chin Na can be far more effective when it is used to not so much to win a fight, but to end a fight on your terms rather than on your opponent's terms.

Xingyiquan Eagle/Bear Application

3. Joint Manipulation

Once the practitioner is able to mask both their movements and their breathing, they are able to transform their own behaviors and maintain their central equilibrium, while exposing weaknesses in their opponent's attack and (or) organism. This is accomplished by being able to use the opponent's rigid-like qualities or stiffness in their joints, muscles, and tendons against them.

While the capturing of an attackers joint may appear to be explosive, or as fast as lightning, the truth is, speed is not necessary whatsoever. What is needed is the skill of Lu, or following. Following is often interpreted as moving away from the opponent or turning the waist when the opponent exerts their greatest force. However, nothing could be more grossly misinterpreted, or hard to comprehend, than the art of following. It combines both advancing and retreating in such a way, that when the practitioner retreats, they advance, and when they advance they retreat. This is possible, by moving the hands, body, and feet in an arc-like manner, and simultaneously moving on sharp angles, which capture the opponent's center (or spine) without telegraphing your intentions.

pakua earth palm  app

4. Joint Manipulation


Baguazhang Purple Swallow Application

Again, as described previously, the joints are the doors by which a practitioner is able to proceed. If an obvious opening does not exist than a hidden one does. For instance, it is possible to hide your own force in such a way, that when you are grabbed, you are able to relax and yet give no outward show of the fact that the opponent is having an effect. This may appear as ignoring what the opponent is doing. However, if you relax at the joint, and wait for them to show their force, you might have a better route into their center, than if you reacted with a predetermined technique that is supposed to be foolproof, however, when tested, may fall apart against a wide variety of different opponents. The classic says, “When they move, you follow them, and by doing so arrives first.” First, by closely awaiting a chance to snatch the opponent’s joint.

Having knowledge of how joints work is very practical, but also learning to have patience for things to develop is even more useful. So, while a practitioner may have a strong grip, if they cannot follow closely, they may leave the door open for an escape or a reversal. By moving, as if following, when the opponent moves, you are better able to change the grasp if needed, tighten the grip or deepen the effectiveness of the hold.

5. Exploiting Vulnerabilities In An Opponent's Situation

Why do this? If you can relax and wait for your opponent to show their force, you usually have a clear route into their center. This leads to a counterattack approach in internal kung fu that is entirely situational and depends on the details of the opponent's attack.

The external kung fu alternative approach is technique driven. One reacts with a predetermined technique that is supposed to be a foolproof counter for the technique your opponent has employed. However, when tested, this approach may fail for a variety of reasons. Every counter has another counter. A useful counter may fail because of unexpected situational details. Speed, power and execution are significant factors in applying techniques, but a situational component remains an important factor in achieving success.

The internal kung fu approach concentrates on the situational aspect of the interaction between opponents. An opponent's speed and power are dealt with using following and the related approaches described in the classic texts. The classic says, "When they move, you follow them, and by doing so arrive first."

Having knowledge of how joints work is very practical, but also learning to have patience for the situation to develop is even more useful. By moving with your opponent, or following, when the opponent moves, you move. are better able to change the grasp if needed, tighten the grip or deepen the effectiveness of the hold. First, by closely awaiting a chance to snatch the opponent's joint. So, while a practitioner may have a strong grip, if they cannot follow closely, they may leave the door open for an escape or a reversal. l have against a wide variety of different opponents.

Taiji (Brush Knee) Chin Na: With a minimal amount of movement, use the opponent's center line and move into a choke hold using the rigidity of their spine to solidify a forearm grab at the trachea.

6. Finishing a Conflict on Your Terms

Bagua (Lake Palm) Chin Na: Twist the opponent's center of gravity and capture their spine by gently manipulating their neck and lower back with a small progressive circle that gains in momentum like a snowball.

What’s difficult to accept is that speed and powerful techniques are of no real consequence against someone who has mastered the ability to follow and to root. Even if you are fast enough to tackle, duck under or go behind the opponent, success will prove elusive. If the opponent has good rooting, they will be able to simply follow you and wait for you to exert force then - once your force and true intentions are exposed - use your own force against you.

I’m not talking about applying this knowledge in dopey-floored arenas where a taking what should be a bad fall can be used to advantage. We now are used to seeing televised mixed martial art events where a fighter who has just been dropped on his head is able to apply a barrage of techniques against their opponent. I often wonder which fighter would have had to be revived if it had an actual fight outside of an arena.

In Neijia kung fu the knowledge and skills that are needed are very different: to be able to stand and root (or fall if need be) on asphalt, concrete, or uneven surfaces; to employ listening and to be able to engage and follow the opponent’s force; and to thus be able use their opponent's force against them.

7. Submission and Control of an Opponent

Xingyi (Metal) Chin Na: Absorb and dismantle the opponent at their elbow, wrist, and shoulder; in order to move linearly into their spine to solidify the grab and their aggression.

In Neijia kung fu, the next part of intuitive understanding has to do with knowing a great deal about the mechanics of two interacting people. This concerns all the muscles, tendons, joints and bones. It also concerns the complicated dynamics of force, including instability and balance. Knowing the good and bad outcomes associated with following a particular line in a specific situation allows one to make small changes that select one outcome over another.

In the context of Chin Na, this approach creates a subtle way to attack an opponent's joints. It is very versatile and it has a sophistication goes well beyond a simple technique based system of attacks and counters. The outcomes vary, but it is a usually a choice about how much damage you want to inflict on your opponent. One can attack a joint: be it a finger, wrist, elbow, knee, ankle, toe, neck, vertebrate, or even larger joints such as the shoulders or hips.

8. Chin Na

In Neijia kung fu, the insight without hurting yourself or an opponent is to practice seizing and control in the push hands model. This is regularly practiced in Bagua Rou Shou, or in Taiji Tuishou or Xingyi Tuishou. Each of these disciplines have their own set of joint hands practice which focus on sensitivity training, and very often teach chin na within these models.

Some of the sensitivity training can be amazingly deft, especially in something like Wu Style Taijiquan’s Five Single Hands or the 13 Double Hands Methods. In practice with a skilled opponent you often can hardly feel what's happening just before things go very wrong. The advanced practice is so light that you can only feel a need to let go: it is common to realize the the loss of balance is happening well after it is too late to recover. The opponent has initiated and issued.

For this reason, it makes it all the more important to practice slowly and feel your own body mechanics from the top of your head (and the tips of your fingers) though the soles of the feet. Repetitiously practicing slow, exact movements which train the body to move more surreptitiously and without the use of any overt force whatsoever. In this way, you not only awaken knowledge of your own inner mechanics, but by practicing with a variety of partners, you begin to discern and listen to a variety of physical statures and the never ending menu of varying reactions that multiple practice partners bring. Knowledge of Chi Kung, and how energy flows along conduits and points located on the body can also be useful in developing a more intuitive understanding of body dynamics.

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