Categories Of Chin Na

Although the Chin Na techniques from one Gongfu style may seem quite different from the techniques of another style, the theories and principles of application remain the same. These theories and principles form the root of all Chin Na techniques. If you adhere to these roots, your Chin Na will continue to grow and improve, but if you ignore these roots, your Chin Na will always remain undeveloped.

We will discuss these general theories and principles. Before we discuss each Chin Na category, you should understand that there is no technique which is perfect for all situations. What you do depends upon what your opponent does, and since your opponent will not stand still and just let you control him, you must be able to adapt your Chin Na to fit the circumstances. Like all other martial techniques, your Chin Na must respond to and follow the situation, and so it needs to be skillful, alive, fast, and powerful. You should furthermore understand that Chin Na must be done by surprise. In grabbing Chin Na you have to grasp your opponent's body, and so if your opponent is aware of your intention it will be extremely difficult for you to successfully apply the technique. In such a case you may be obliged to use a cavity strike Chin Na instead of a grabbing technique.

It is usually much easier to strike the opponent than to control him. Subduing an opponent through Chin Na control is a way to show mercy to someone you do not want to injure. To successfully apply a grabbing Chin Na, you often need to fake or strike the opponent first to set him up for your controlling technique. For example, you can use a punch to cause your oppo-nent to block, and when he blocks, you quickly grab his hand and use Chin Na to control him. Alternatively, you might kick his shin first to draw his attention to his leg, and immediately grab his hand and control him.

As mentioned, there are five categories of Chin Na:

  • Fen Jinor Zhua Jin (dividing the muscle/tendon or grabbing the muscle/tendon)
  • Cuo Gu (misplacing the bone)
  • Bi Qi (sealing the breath)
  • Dian Mai or Duan Mai (vein/artery press or sealing the vein/artery)
  • Dian Mai or Dian Xue (pressing primary Qi channel or cavity press)

We will now discuss all of these categories in detail except the last two, which will be discussed only on an introductory level, because the subject requires an in-depth understanding of Qi circulation, acupuncture, and specialized training techniques.

One additional point needs to be mentioned here, and that is that very often Chin Na techniques make use of principles from several categories at once. For example, many techniques simultanouesly use the principles of divinding the muscle/tendon and misplacing the bone.

Fen Jin or Zhua Jin

Fen in Chinese means to divide, Zhua means to grab and Jin means tendon, sinew, or muscle. Fen Jin or Zhua Jin Chin Na refer to techniques which tear apart the opponent's muscles or tendons. Muscles contain nerves and many Qi branch channels, so when you tear a muscle or tendon, not only do you cause sensations of pain to travel to the brain, you also directly or indirectly affect the Qi and interfere with the normal functioning of the organs.

If the pain is great enough it can disturb the Qi and seriously damage the organs, and in extreme cases even cause death. For this reason, when you are in extreme pain your brain may give the order for you to passout. Once you are unconscious, the Qi circulation will significantly decrease, which will limit damage to the organs and perhaps save your life. Fen Jin Qin Na uses two main ways to divide the muscle/tendon.

One way is to twist the opponent's joint and then bend. Twisting the joint also twists the muscles/tendons. If you bend the joint at the same time, you can tear the tendons off the bone. The other method is to split and tear the muscle/tendon apart without twisting. The most common place to do this is the fingers. Zhua Jin (grabbing the muscle/tendon) relies upon the strength of the fingers to grab, press, and then pull the opponent's large muscles or tendons. This causes pain by overextending the muscles and tendons. The shoulder muscles/tendons are a common target.

Zhua Jin Qin Na is used particularly by the Eagle Claw and Tiger Claw styles. Although Zhua Jin is usually classified with Fen Jin Qin Na, many Chinese martial artists separate the two categories because the principle used to divide the muscle/tendon is different.

Cao Gu

Cao means wrong, disorder, or to place wrongly, and Gu means bone. Cao Gu therefore are Qin Na techniques which put bones in the wrong positions.These techniques are usually applied to the joints. If you examine the structure of a joint, you will see that the bones are connected to each other by ligaments, and that the muscles around and over the joints are connected to the bones by tendons.

When a joint is bent backward or twisted and bent in the wrong direction, it can cause extreme pain, the ligaments can be torn off the bone, and the bones can be pulled apart. Strictly speaking, it is very difficult to use dividing the muscle/tendon and misplacing the bone techniques separately. When one is used, generally the other one is also more or less simultaneously applied.

Bi Qi

Bi in Chinese means to close, seal, or shut, and Qi (more specifically Kong Qi) means air. Bi Qi is the technique of preventing the opponent from inhaling, thereby causing him to pass out. There are three categories of Bi Qi, differing in the approach to sealing.

The first category is the direct sealing of the windpipe. You can grab your opponent's throat with your fingers, or compress his throat with your arm, and prevent him from inhaling. Alternatively, you can use your fingers to press or strike the base of his throat to stop him from inhaling. Attacking this causes the muscles around the windpipe to contract and close the windpipe.The second category of Bi Qi is striking the muscles which surround the lungs. Because of the protection which the ribs afford, it is very difficult to strike the muscles around the lungs directly.

However, some of these muscles extend beyond the ribs. When they are attacked, they contract in pain and compress the lungs, preventing inhalation. Two muscle groups in the stomach are commonly used this way.

Finally, the last category of sealing the breath is cavity press or nerve ending strike. The principle of this category is very similar to that of the muscle strikes, the only difference being that cavities are struck rather than muscle groups. This category is normally much more difficult both in principle and technique.

However, when it is done correctly it is more effective than striking the muscles. In order to cause contraction of the lungs you must strike particular acupuncture cavities or the ends of the nerves which emerge from the lung area underneath the ribs. Striking these cavities accurately and to the right depth will affect the Chi in the muscles around the lungs, causing them to contract. Alternatively, you can strike the nerve endings. This causes pain to penetrate the ribs and shock the internal muscles surrounding the lungs into contraction, thus sealing the breath.

Dian Mai or Duan Mai

Dian Mai is also known as Dim Mak, which is simply the same words spoken in a different dialect. Dian in Chinese means to point or press with a finger. Mai means Qi channels (Qi Mai), or blood vessels (Xue Mai). Therefore, Dian Mai means to strike or press either the Qi channels or the veins/arteries. When it means to strike or press the vein/artery, it is also called Duan Mai (sealing the vein/artery).

Duan means to break, seal, or stop. Sometimes it is also called Tian Xue (blood press), such as when the artery in the temple is struck and ruptured. When Dian Mai means to strike or press the cavities on the Qi channels, it is also called Dian Xue (cavity press). Here, we will discuss Duan Mai and leave the discussion of Dian Xue for later. In principle, Duan Mai can be done either by striking or pressing. A striking Duan Mai Qin Na can rupture the blood vessel and stop the blood circulation, which usually causes death. For example, when the temple is struck, the muscles in that are a will tighten up and rupture the artery. A pressing Duan Mai Qin Na can also stop or seal the blood circulation. For example,sealing the neck artery will stop the blood circulation to your head and thus cut down the oxygen supply to the brain. This will cause unconsciousness or even death.

There are two major blood vessels, one on either side of your neck, which continuously supply oxygen to your brain. When either or both of these are struck or pressed, the flow of blood to the brain can be stopped. Sometimes the muscles on the side of the neck remain tensed. If you do not know how to revive the victim, he will die from the lack of oxygen. Therefore, you must be careful in using sealing the vein/artery techniques. If you are not sure how to revive the person, do not use these techniques.

Dian Mai or Dian Xue

As mentioned, the other type of Dian Mai strikes or presses cavities on Qi channels,and is also called Dian Xue (pressing cavity). Dian means to press with a finger and Xue refers to the acupuncture cavities. The human body has more than 800 Qi cavities, mostly on the paths of the eight vessels and 12 channels. Two of the eight vessels arecalled the Governing and Conception Vessels (Du Maiand Ren Mai). The Qi in these two vessels circulates in a 24 hour cycle. The other 12 Qi channels are related to the 12 internal organs. The flow of Qi in these 12 channels is also related to the time of the day, with the emphasis switching from one channel to the next gradually every 2 hours. Furthermore, these eight vessels and 12 channels also have seasonal and annual cycles. When the Qi circulation in these vessels and channels is stagnant or stopped, the person will sicken or die.

Acupuncture is a way to readjust the Qi circulation and cure illnesses. Cavity press is a method to disturb or affect the opponent's Qi circulation. There are about 108 cavities which can be struck or pressed to affect the Qi flow. Among these 108 cavities, 36 can cause death and the other 72 can cause numbness or unconsciousness. In order to make a strike effective, you must know the time of the major Qi flow (Zi Wu Liu Zhu) in that channel,the appropriate striking technique, and the depth of the cavity. This is a very complicated subject, and it can be very dangerous for a person to learn without supervision.

In traditional Chinese martial society, a master will usually not pass these secrets on until he feels he can really trust a student. However, some techniques can be taught without too much danger. These cavities will not cause death, and most are attacked through the method called Zhua Xue (grabbing the cavity).

Dr. Yang has been involved in Chinese Gongfu since 1961 and has more than thirty years of instructional experience. Dr. Yang has published twenty-four books and twenty-eight videotapes on the martial arts and Qigong. Currently he is president of Yang's Oriental Arts Association, Boston, MA.