Chin Na (Qin Na) (Translation: “Catch-Arrest,” or “Seize and Immobilize”) isn’t an individual style, but an aspect of nearly all kung-fu styles in China. The word “chin” means “to seize or trap” and “na” means “to lock or break”, and “control”.
Chin Na is a seizing and throwing system which is defined as a “set of movements based on the method of twisting locks, including holds counter holds, and escapes. Locks and holds are applied on the wrist, throat, elbow neck and nerves”.
Chin Na has taken a firm hold as one of the leading Chinese Martial Arts ever since its emergence approximately 370 years ago during the Ming Dynasty. The major purpose of Chin Na is to “quiet” or stop an aggressive action without maiming or injuring to a serious extent. Chin Na techniques are separated into four basic categories: misplacing the bone, dividing the muscle, sealing the breath or vein, and nerve cavity press.
Chin Na is at once both a martial art in itself and a part of virtually every other martial art. Some Kung Fu practitioners train exclusively in Chin Na, but most utilize the Chin Na applications found in virtually every Chinese martial art – from T’ai Chi, Hsing Yi and Pa Kua to Shaolin – in concert with the striking and kicking techniques found in each particular style. Chinese Chin Na is the root of the Japanese arts of Jujitsu, Judo and Aikido.
Chi Na combines applications with a physician’s knowledge of human anatomy, ie bone structure, muscle formation, and all the vital areas within the nervous system. Chin Na is based on medical science and knowledge, rather than forcefulness or strength. Chin Na is also the study of how to control your opponent. It uses joint locks to limit mobility, and attacks acupuncture cavities and other sensitive parts of the body with strikes, grabs, and other techniques.
For over 1000 years, practitioners have trained in Chin Na, perfecting and honing techniques to the quality they are today. Based on more than just techniques, this system teaches the student principles of body mechanics and patience. You learn how to capture different parts of the body and the correct force required to be effective. The distance between you and the opponent, spatial orientation, intuition, reading an opponent through muscle shifting and body movement are only a few things Chin Na focuses on.
To this day, Chin Na is one of the most effective training methods for Chinese military and police officers. What made this system appealing was the ability to disable opponents without causing unnecessary harm. Our bodies are only meant to bend or twist at certain angles before feeling discomfort and then pain. When you grab and then manipulate a part of a person’s body in the correct way, you gain control over the rest of the body.
The understanding that grappling is as important as striking has caused Chinese martial arts instructors to focus on their Chin Na techniques, even expanding the system by incorporating or developing new ones. There are over 700 traditional techniques in the White Crane style of Chin Na alone and even more present in other styles.
Chin Na techniques can be generally categorized as:
- “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.
- “Cuo Gu” or ‘Tsuoh Guu’ (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.
- “Bi Qi” or Bih Chi (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.
- “Dian Mai” or “Dian Xue” or Duann Mie’ (sealing the vein/artery or acupressure cavity). Similar to the Cantonese dim mak, these are the technique of sealing or striking blood vessels and chi points. ‘Tien Hsueh’, acupuncture cavity press, also referred to as ‘Dim Mak’ which means meridian press in this context.
Liu Jin Sheng
“…If you are in command of this technique, you can sway the destiny of the enemy. You can kill your enemy, cause unbearable pain, tear his muscles and sinews, break his bones or make him unconscious for some time and completely disable him to resist.
Even a woman or a physically weak man who mastered this technique can curb a strong enemy. This technique demands deftness and skill, not brute force. It is necessary to train oneself daily to make the body flexible and nimble, but “hardness” must be hidden inside this “softness.”
Author Liu Jin Sheng.