Qin Na (Chin Na)
The Art of Seizing and Controlling
Qin Na is primarily known as the Chinese art of joint locking. Qin means to seize or catch and Na means to hold or control; so Qin Na is the art of seizing and controlling an opponent.
Although Qin Na techniques can be found in most Chinese martial arts systems, one style above all others is renowned for its highly specialized application of Qin Na. This is Ying Zhao Fan Zi, better known in the West as Eagle Claw Kung Fu.
A unique characteristic that renders added efficiency to the application of Qin Na techniques in Ying Zhao Fan Zi is the utilization of the hand formation for which the style is famous. This is the "eagle claw" (see picture). This anatomical hand shape represents the powerful talons of the king of birds and is ideal for applying the four major categories of Qin Na techniques.
- Fen Jin: Separate the muscles
- Cuo Cu: Misplace the bones
- Bi Qi: Stop the breath
- Dian Xue: Attack the vital points
The techniques in the Fen Jin category deal with separating the muscles. Throughout the body, muscles adjoin, meet and overlap. It is at these points that the eagle claw can be applied to separate the muscles by applying pressing and pulling pressure.
For example: The anterior forearm contains several adjoining muscles that are commonly attacked with Fen Jin techniques. Consider the Pronator Teres and the Flexor Carpi Radialis muscles; applying the eagle claw to separate these two muscles will cause severe pain (see picture).
The great body of techniques applied in Qin Na deal with those in the Cuo Cu category. These techniques are usually applied at the joints of the human body also known as articulations.
- A joint is a place where two bones come together
- A joint is classified based on the amount of movement it allows
- The human body contains 360 joints
These joints are divided into six categories. The joints that can be most effectively attacked with Qin Na techniques are concentrated in the upper limbs: the wrist, the elbow and the shoulder. The lower limbs, thorax and throat also contain joints that are vulnerable to Qin Na techniques.
When attacking a joint by manipulating it against its natural range of motion, the tendons that attach the muscle to the bone are also affected. This unnatural bending or twisting of the joint, combined with overstretched tendons, will cause pain. This pain can be controlled by maintaining or increasing the pressure that is applied against the joint.
For example: The elbow joint is known as a “hinge joint,” which only permits flexion and extension and then only to a certain degree. When pressure is applied against the opponent’s normal elbow function, pain is administered and control is quickly gained. (see picture)
The techniques of Bi Qi (stop or seal the breath) form a minor category in Qin Na. These are specialized techniques that attack the breathing passages, namely, the pharynx (the throat) and the trachea (the windpipe or "Adam’s Apple”). The application of these techniques often also damages the larynx (voice box).
While some Bi Qi techniques involve arm chokes, Ying Zhao Fan Zi specializes in the use of the eagle claw to attack the throat and crush the windpipe. The claw is usually combined with a joint lock to give added control and leverage.
For example: The windpipe is attacked and crushed with an eagle claw to seal the airway while an elbow immobilization lock is simultaneously applied. The lock renders futile any resistance while the claw attack to the windpipe quickly restricts the airflow. (see picture)
The ability to attack the vital points is the acme of Dian Xue. This is considered the most advanced and secretive aspect of Qin Na.
Many teachers are hesitant to teach these techniques and many masters take their secrets with them to the grave rather than risk passing on the knowledge to unscrupulous students.
Grand Master Leung Shum taught the techniques only once, during the occasion of his 30th anniversary celebration, over an intensive training session for his most advanced students.
The categories of Qin Na techniques described above are drilled and refined through the practice of "Yi Bai Ling Ba Qin Na," the famous 108 Locking Hands of Ying Zhao Fan Zi (Eagle Claw Kung Fu).
Qin Na is considered one of the four traditional fighting aspects of Chinese martial arts, which are Ti, Da, Shuai, and Na.
- Ti (Kick)
- Da (Strike)
- Shuai (Throw)
- Na (Seize)
Since fighting occurs at long, medium, close and grappling range, a fighter needs to be well versed in all these aspects so as to not have any loopholes an opponent can take advantage of. Qin Na techniques are excellent for close in and grappling range and will round out your fighting skills.
The effective application of Qin Na techniques requires repeated practice with different partners and a thorough knowledge of the human muscular, skeletal and nervous systems. It is this knowledge that allows for the efficient application of techniques without relying on brute force.
The effective application of Qin Na techniques causes severe pain, and pain is a great lever for controlling an adversary. Qin Na is considered a high level martial art since one is able to bring the opponent under control without seriously incapacitating him.