- Apr 13, 2007
- Reaction score
The oft over-looked aspect of 踢打摔拿 (Ti, Da, Shuai, Na)
By Maarten Sebastiaan Franks Spijker
A week ago I decided to return to [FONT=宋]桂林[/FONT] (Guilin), a beautiful city in the south of China, also the first Chinese city that I had lived in. I called my old martial arts teacher there and he welcomed me back to train. The training there was harsh, but certainly satisfying, I smilingly recall, now.
[FONT=宋]唐教练[/FONT] (Instructor Tang) had been teaching me [FONT=宋]擒拿（[/FONT]Qinna - Seize and control), the most brutal of the four aspects of hand to hand combat. Now Im sure that many of you will scoff after having read the last sentence, but let me indulge you with the hard facts about the little-known techniques of Qinna.
My faith of Qinna has been questioned several times, so I was not always the devout believer I am now. When I first began studying [FONT=宋]散打[/FONT] (Sanda) in a full-contact fighting environment I found that I could not use the Qinna techniques that I had learnt. Naturally, I blamed my failures on the system, now proved to be ineffective against the might of kicking and punching. How wrong I was! The only thing that was proved was my own failure in using the techniques correctly.
After meditation upon past experience and several experiments (Non-compliance drills and sparring), I have come to believe that Qinna and Shuaijiao are the most important of the four aspects. The focus of this article is Qinna, but some points about Shuaijiao will also be brought to attention. Below, I will explain my reasons for this in detail:
First, lets address some of the problems people seem to find in Qinna and cover the solutions:
Problem: Qinna can be difficult to use on a resisting opponent if the dynamics of power generation are not understood.
Solution: Many people will ask a Qinna practitioner to show them a technique and then judge Qinna based on their performance. The problem does not lie in Qinna, but rather in the countless practitioners that are misrepresenting the art. They usually attempt to apply the technique, but fail miserably when the opponent resists and they try to muscle their way through it. Power, in Qinna, does not come from the practitioner until after the technique has been locked (I.E. escape is close to impossible but every lock can still be picked). Before the lock is set, the power comes from the resisting opponent. This leads us to the next problem.
Problem: The practitioner is not able to feel the enemy and gauge his reactions.
Solution: In order to lock a technique, the practitioner must predict his enemys reactions. For example, if I am pulling his arm towards me and down, my enemys instinct will be to pull it back and up. It is during that critical moment that I will reverse directions and flow into another technique.
Problem: The practitioner does not flow from one technique to another
Solution: A common misconception about Qinna techniques and that the practitioner applies one technique and then the enemy is subdued. This couldnt be further from unrealistic. In fact, during one bout the practitioner flows from one set-up to another until a technique can be locked. When the technique is locked there is no waiting zero hesitation and whatever has been locked is broken or torn by the practitioner, especially if there are multiple opponents.
Problem: The enemys balance remains intact whilst the Qinna technique is being applied.
Solution: Many people will find some techniques, even a simple arm-bar, impossible to use on a resisting opponent. Thats because they have not destroyed the opponents balance. Qinna and some Shuaijiao techniques are integrated. Qinna without Shuaijiao is useless. The counters to some attacks, like a driving bear hug, can only safely be countered with Shuaijiao techniques (Though some will utilise some kind of shoulder-lock as well). The most commonly effective way to break their balance is by hooking one of their legs (The inside of the knee) with your ankle and jerking straight back, whilst positioning for the set-up with your upper body. This requires great coordination on the part of the practitioner. In fact, Qinna sparring looks a lot like Shuaijiao, with the centre of gravity being a little higher, because the principles are quite similar, the major difference being that Qinna deals with smaller (more breakable) body parts. I also use a Sanda stance to protect my head during bouts.
Problem: The practitioner is not able to use speed.
Solution: Even if a practitioner understands all of the problems above, without speed it will amount to nothing. From the moment the enemys attack angle is known, the redirection or interception of their attack must be underway, followed by the counter. If possible, it is better to attack first.
Problem: It is impossible to catch my punch!
Solution: While it is certainly possible to catch certain strikes, it is not really necessary. A Qinna practitioners goal is to move into position within kicking and striking range. There are even Qinna techniques against kicks, which are similar, but more brutal, than Sanda [FONT=宋]接腿[/FONT] (Jietui - Kick-catching/takedown) techniques. Once the practitioner is in the proper position he will begin to tangle the enemys defenses, flowing from one technique to another until something is locked and going for the break/tear. This may or may not be beautiful. When I first started sparring again with one of my friends several days ago it looked like we were slap-fighting. Before long we were able to feel each other, break each others balance effectively, and successfully apply some of the techniques (Especially a certain wrist lock and a devastating shoulder break *rubs shoulder*). Then it became art far from perfect, but effective, art
Problem: Qinna and Shuaijiao are stupid because they dont go to the ground.
Solution: FALSE. Qinna and Shuaijiao both have ground-fighting techniques. In fact, almost all Qinna techniques should be able to be applied standing and on the ground. As for Shuaijiao, though the theory is that you do not want to be on the ground, especially when there are multiple opponents, ground-fighting is not neglected. Many times, after an opponent is Shuai-ed (Taken down/thrown), the practitioner will proceed to use Qinna techniques to capture and control them with pain whilst they are lying on the ground. Often, it is not necessary, as a good Shuai can knock them out on impact.
Problem: The practitioner cannot apply pain to the techniques.
Solution: At least 50% of all the effectiveness of Qinna is controlling with pain. This is not my best area yet, but with my daily Jibengong (Foundation) training it will improve over time (I will explain this more in a moment). It has been said that you can tell a good Qinna master by the intensity of the pain his grip will give you. If his fingers feel like nails driving into your flesh/muscle, youve found the real deal.
Problem: Qinna is difficult to use if the enemy is wet.
Solution: Resort to Shuaijiao.
Problem: Qinna cannot be used under stress.
Solution: What can be used under stress if you dont know how to deal with it? To enter any technique into your muscle memory you must perform it at least ten thousand times under realistic training conditions. This goes for anything. Also, remember that in most attacks, the attacker is closed within kicking and punching range before you have time to employ the skills in those ranges and may even grab you. Naturally, Qinna and Shuaijiao, both being aspects of close quarter combat, would be most effectively used in these kind of situations.
Qinna is the most difficult to learn to use aspect of hand to hand combat. It requires the most time, effort, and intense alive training to be able to use at all, let alone against another martial artist. But, if applied correctly, it been be devastatingly effective and end fights. It is not to be separated from its counterpart, Shuaijiao, as the two go hand in hand. The other aspects of combat should not be neglected, as they all have their own use. I hope that Qinna will no longer be over-looked. If it had no use, it would not have been created in a world if unrest and feudal chaos.
Jibengong training is the single most important thing of all martial arts. Even if your combat theory is flawless, if your body cannot carry it out, it is meaningless. Here are some of the basic fundamental training exercises that pertain specifically to Qinna.
l Finger-tip push-ups: The most important Qinna-specific exercise, finger-tip push-ups build finger strength, changing your fingers from simple digits to the anatomical equivalent of carving knives, pliers, and other tools of torture.
l [FONT=宋]打豆子[/FONT]/[FONT=宋]墙[/FONT] (Da douzi/qiang - Hitting beans/wall): Also critically important, but not for the reason you probably think. Iron palm training is not used for ripping out peoples hearts, but for something far less sadistic. It merely hardens your fingers to protect them from damage during combat (I.E. If were proficient and you punched someone and miss, hitting a brick wall, your hands would not be as damaged). It also helps with [FONT=宋]虎爪[/FONT] (Huzhua - Tiger Claw) techniques, protecting your fingers, whilst tearing some part of your opponents anatomy. Stand in Mabu (See below) and hit a flat horizontal or vertical surface in various ways with constant force and speed. NEVER hit anything with a closed fist or knife hand.
l [FONT=宋]马步[/FONT] (Mabu -Horse stance): Training exercise designed to improve balance, leg-strength, and condition. Place feet shoulder-width apart, keep knees at 90 degree angles, and keep your back straight. Enjoy!
l [FONT=宋]踢腿[/FONT] (Ti tui Kick legs): This training exercise will improve your flexibility, balance, coordination, leg-strength, and condition, amongst other things. Only a proper instructor can teach this.
l [FONT=宋]马步变弓步冲拳[/FONT] (Mabu bian Gongbu Chongquan Horse Stance change to Bow Stance Punching): This great foundation exercise is an extremely tiring pattern of low stances and punches. There are several variations that also include kicking (and have different names) that are even better, but this is the most basic one. It improves leg-strength, balance, and condition.
l Wrist exercise: An exercise that involves a stick, a rope, and a heavy bag of beans. You turn the stick using only your wrists, lifting up and then lowering the beans, whilst standing in Mabu. Increases wrist and leg-strength and improves condition.
l Various stretches: Important so that you dont tear your own muscles during practise.
This is an evolving article. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, and/or constructive criticism please let me know and I will update it, if necessary. I may also add to it if I feel that I have missed something, so check back from time to time.