Chin Na

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Chin Na is a Chinese term describing techniques used in the Chinese martial arts that control or lock an opponents joints or muscles/tendons so he cannot move, thus neutralizing their fighting ability. Also chin na su , su meaning technique . Chin na su literally means technique of catching and locking in Chinese. Some schools simply use the word na to describe the techniques.

While techniques along the lines of chin na are trained to some degree by most martial arts worldwide, many Chinese martial arts are famous for their specialization in such applications. Styles such as Eagle Claw (Yīng zhua quán), which includes 108 different chin na techniques, Praying Mantis (Tánglángquán) and the “Tiger Claw” techniques of Hung Gar , Shaolin 8 Animal (Chi Lu Chuan) and Pan Nam Wing Chun are well known examples. Though they do not use the Chinese name of Chin Na, many of the Japanese martial arts (or budo ) utilize techniques of locking, trapping and breaking identical to Chin Na. Notable among these are Judo , jujutsu and Aikido .

Chin Na can generally be categorized (in Chinese) as:

  1. “Fen Jin” or “Zhua Jin” (dividing the muscle/tendon, grabbing the muscle/tendon). “Fen” means “to divide”, “Zhua” is “to grab” and “Jin” means “tendon, muscle, sinew”. They refer to techniques which tear apart an opponent’s muscles or tendons.
  2. “Cuo Gu” (misplacing the bone). “Cuo” means “wrong, disorder” and “Gu” means “bone”. Cuo Gu therefore refer to techniques which put bones in wrong positions and is usually applied specifically to joints.
  3. “Bi Qi” (sealing the breath). “Bi” means “to close, seal or shut” and “Qi”, or more specifically “Kong Qi”, meaning “air”. “Bi Qi” is the technique of preventing the opponent from inhaling. This differs from mere strangulation in that it may be applied not only to the windpipe directly but also to muscles surrounding the lungs, supposedly to shock the system in to a contraction which impairs breathing.
  4. “Dian Mai” or “Dian Xue” (sealing the vein/artery or acupressue cavity). Similar to the Cantonese “Dim Mak”, these are the technique of sealing or striking blood vessels and “Qi” points.

Chin means to seize or trap, na means to lock or break, and while those actions are very often executed in that order (trap then lock), the two actions can also be performed distinctly in training and self defense. Which is to say, a trap isn’t always followed by a lock or break, and a lock or break is not necessarily set up by a trap.

There is quite a bit of overlap between Chin Na theory and technique with the branches of traditional Chinese medicine known as tui na as well as the use of offensive and defensive ch’i kung as an adjunct of chin na training in some styles.

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