Chin Na – A Primer

Chin Na is one of the core elements of our art (the others being striking and shuai jiao) that uses joint and muscle/tendon lock techniques to control your opponent.  “Chin” means to grab or seize and “Na” means to lock and break.  Virtually all Chinese Martial Arts styles employ chin na in some fashion – some more than others.  China, as the birthplace of Asian martial arts, was quite literally the mother of many famous chin na-like martial arts from other countries.  It is highly likely that chin na influenced the development of jiu jitsu, judo, and aikido in Japan and Hapkido in Korea.  Chin na is fun to learn and very efffective in self-defense against grabs or in the event you need to control an attacker.

There are many chin na techniques taught at our school.  In the beginning, escape movements are taught for the reason that you need to learn how to break free from a grab before you learn how to conquer it thru chin na.  After being taught the escape techniques and demonstrating some competency in them, students begin learning “attacking” chin na techniques used against adversaries who grab you.  People will typically grab to control through strength or possibly some form of wrestling.  Some grabs to the throat or neck can even be deadly.  Students must be able to react quickly and accurately with the correct technique to prevent harm to themselves and to gain control of your attacker.  In most cases, the attacker is devastated by painful attacks to nerves at various points on his body.

As students continue their training, other chin na techniques are taught to handle the same attack.  Grabs from training partners become stronger and more realistic, which demands a well-executed chin na technique.  Some techniques come naturally, while others may feel awkward or weak… just keep practicing.  Students are taught stunning, distracting strikes that provide an opening to apply chin na techniques.  As skill progresses, students will learn how to utilize chin na techniques from a punch, push or other strike.  Students will learn to apply one technique only to quickly move to a second or third chin na technique.  Proper reactions to missed or ineffective techniques will be trained.  Eventually,students begin to find opportunities to employ chin na techniques in sparring.  To be able to do this requires a good deal of skill, which, can only be gained through many hours of practice.

Chin na is a particularly useful skill to have for self-defense at it allows the defender the ability to show compassion in response to an attack.  Smaller practitioners who know chin na can utilize the techniques against larger and stronger opponents simply by using their body weight against weak areas of their aggressor.  Weak areas include joints, pressure points, or soft areas of the body.  This is why chin na can be particularly valuable for women.  Law enforcement and security workers can especially benefit from the control aspect of chin na techniques.  Chin na has a vast history and repertoire of techniques for those looking to gain control of attackers.

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