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Seize the Opportunity with Chin Na: Part 1

By Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming

Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming

Editor’s Note: The is the first in a two part article on Chin Na. Chinese Chin Na is often compared to Japanese Jujutsu as well as aikido. But Chin Na is a broader art that also contains gripping/muscle grabbing, cavity press techniques and the art of striking vital points. Chin Na is often taught as an integral element of many Chinese Kung Fu systems, although it can also be taught as a stand-alone system.


Dr. Yang demonstrating a Chin Na finger technique

Chin Na literally means "seize control." Chin Na covers a wide range of defensive and offensive techniques, from very fundamental hand grappling to the very advanced Dim Mak (delayed death touch). The fundamental techniques can be learned by any martial artist or even by someone without any martial arts experience. These fundamental techniques can easily be adapted and incorporated into any martial style such as Judo, Wrestling (Shuai Jiao), Karate, or Tae Kwon Do to increase the range of responses. In open-handed styles, many opportunities arise where grabbing Chin Na can be used. Once a person has mastered all these fundamental techniques, he can continue his study in advanced Chin Na, something which is so deep that for most students it will take over 20 years to learn, practice and master – a knowledge without end or limit. When Chin Na reaches an advanced level, the application of Qi (internal energy) and Jin (internal power) becomes very difficult to understand.

Speed & Power

Dr. Yang demonstrates a Chin Na finger technique on Christopher Caile, painfully so. Dr. Yang invited Caile, the Editor of, to a series of Chin Na seminars in New York City, New Jersey and Boston to learn how he was teaching the art. Photo – courtesy of Christopher Caile

Speed is the most important factor in an effective Chin Na technique. With many Chin Na techniques (the application) you need to use only one-half or even one-third of the power of your opponent. However, without speed you will not be able to control your opponent before he escapes or reacts against you. There are, however, many other Chin Na techniques which do require considerable power to execute and to maintain control. If you do not have the necessary speed and power, your Chin Na will remain second rate, and you will often find that you have exposed yourself to counterattack or otherwise put yourself in a disadvantageous position. Therefore, speed and power are a major part of the training in a Chin Na course.

In order to make the grabbing Chin Na effective, you must first train your grabbing speed and power. This training will include: finger and palm speed and power, arm extension, and twisting speed and power, using the waist to direct the Jin (martial power) to your arms and fingers, and stepping to set up the advantageous position for your technique. In all, an effective Chin Na requires speed, power, and the coordination of arms, waist, and stepping.

Dr. Yang demonstrates another finger Chin Na technique on a student. While attending Dr. Yang Chin Na seminars, I found them to be very well organized into simple progressions, or levels of technique. New students focus on a set of finger Chin Na techniques (a full day or two day seminar). In subsequent seminars students progress to other levels such as wrist Chin Na, elbow Chin Na, waist Chin Na, Leg Chin Na, etc. Students can also learn or refresh their knowledge via Yang’s newest Chin Na book as well as a set of Chin Na DVDs that follow the same format. Thus a student can learn one level in a seminar and then continue his training via Dr. Yang’s Chin Na book or DVDs.

Use Of Chin Na

Remember one thing. When you use a grabbing Chin Na on an opponent, you are showing him mercy. If you can control him with a grabbing Chin Na, you can strike or kick him more easily and more safely. There are two circumstances under which you would use a grabbing Chin Na in a fight. The first is when you are using sticking and adhering techniques, and grabbing Chin Na can be used easily and effectively. The second is when your fighting ability is much higher than your opponent’s, and you do not want to injure him. You demonstrate your Chin Na on him to show mercy and to prove to him that you have the ability to control him.

General Rules Of Use

Once you have decided to use your grabbing Chin Na, you must control him completely. Half-way control will only bring you trouble and danger. There are a few general rules which you should remember:




An awkward position

1. When you apply a lifting Chin Na, you must lift your opponent’s heels off the floor. Otherwise, he will still have his root and he will be able to punch or kick you.

2. When you use a downward Chin Na, you must bring him down so his face or elbow touches the ground, and he is completely defenseless.

3. When you use a circular Chin Na, you must destroy your opponent’s balance and pull his root. His root and balance give him the ability to resist and counterattack. Once he has lost his root, you can then control him either downward or upward.

4. When you apply a Chin Na control to an opponent, you should always have a backup technique such as a punch or kick, so that you can destroy his capacity to fight if your Chin Na control fails. If you see that you need to hit him, do not hesitate. Remember: to show mercy to your opponent is to be cruel to yourself.

5. Whatever Chin Na you do, do not turn your body in front of your opponent. Set him up in an awkward position first, then you can turn either on his side or behind him. Turning in front of your opponent without first putting him in a disadvantageous position is extremely dangerous and unwise.

6. The key words of grabbing Chin Na are twist, bend, and press.

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About The Author:

Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming started his Gongfu (Kung Fu) training at the age of fifteen under the Shaolin White Crane (Bai He) Master Cheng, Gin Gsao. In thirteen years of study (1961-1974) under Master Cheng, Dr. Yang became an expert in the White Crane style of Chinese martial arts, which includes both the use of bare hands and of various weapons such as saber, staff, spear, trident, two short rods, and many others. With the same master he also studied White Crane Chin Na, Tui Na and Dian Xue massages, and herbal treatment.

At the age of sixteen, Dr. Yang began the study of Taijiquan (Yang Style) under Master Gao, Tao. After learning from Master Gao, Dr. Yang continued his study and research of Taijiquan with several masters and senior practitioners such as Master Li, Mao-Ching and Mr. Wilson Chen in Taipei. Master Li learned his Taijiquan from the well-known Master Han, Ching-Tang, and Mr. Chen learned his Taijiquan from Master Chang, Xiang-San. Dr. Yang has mastered the Taiji barehand sequence, pushing hands, the two-man fighting sequence, Taiji sword, Taiji saber, and Taiji Qigong.

At 18, he entered Tamkang College in Taipei Xian to study Physics and also began the study of traditional Shaolin Long Fist (Changquan) with Master Li, Mao-Ching at the Tamkang College Guoshu Club (1964-1968). He eventually became an assistant instructor under Master Li. In 1971 he completed his M.S. degree in Physics at the National Taiwan University and then served in the Chinese Air Force from 1971 to 1972. In the service, Dr. Yang taught Physics at the Junior Academy of the Chinese Air Force while also teaching Wushu. After being honorably discharged in 1972, he returned to Tamkang College to teach Physics and resumed study under Master Li, Mao-Ching. From Master Li, Dr. Yang learned Northern style Gongfu, which includes both barehand techniques, especially kicking, and numerous weapons.

In 1974, Dr. Yang came to the United States to study Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. At the request of a few students, Dr. Yang began to teach, which resulted in the foundation of the Purdue University Chinese Kung Fu Research Club in the spring of 1975. While at Purdue, Dr. Yang also taught college-credited courses in Taijiquan. In May, 1978 he was awarded a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering by Purdue.

Yang's Martial Arts Association was established in Boston, MA in 1982. Currently, YMAA is an international organization, including 56 schools in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, France, Holland, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1984, Dr. Yang retired from his engineering career, to focus his energy on teaching and researching the Chinese arts, and introducing them to the West through many books, videos and DVDs. Visit for current information.

Dr. Yang has nearly 40 years of instructional experience: seven years in Taiwan, five years at Purdue University, two years in Houston, TX, and 25 years in Boston, MA. On November 29, 2005, Dr. Yang conferred the title of Taiji Master to one of his senior students, which by definition bestows the honorable title of Grandmaster upon Dr. Yang.

Dr. Yang is also the founder of the YMAA Retreat Center in Humbolt County, CA, where he will spend ten years training a select group of students, starting in August 2008.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

Chinese Martial Arts, Chin Na, Aikido, Jujutsu, Jujitsu, Eagle Claw Kung Fu

Read more articles by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming

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