There are valuable concepts in Taijiquan that make it a powerful art for self-defense. One of the interesting ideas is "taking the energy where it wants to go."
Last week, Colin and Justin and I recorded several escapes from Chin-Na joint locks. A longer version with more techniques and explanations is on my website for members, but I put together a shorter version for YouTube.
We are very serious about the internal arts but we have a lot of fun when we practice. I think it shows a bit on the videos we do. Please watch this and you'll learn something about how to escape from a joint lock. Silk-Reeling energy is very helpful against joint locks, and silk-reeling relies on other internal body mechanics, too. This is a narrowly focused video. It doesn't necessarily show how to "soften someone up" before escaping, or what to do as a follow-up, but the information here will be helpful in the real world.
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Ken Gullette (with Colin Frye) demonstrates an elbow lock commonly found in movements such as "Single Whip."
Most traditional martial arts styles give names or numbers to joint-locking techniques. In Chinese chin-na (also spelled qinna), we have names such as "Half Moon," or "Push the Boat Down the Stream." I have always loved these descriptive, poetic names, but sometimes they get in the way.
The best way to learn chin-na is not to memorize names and techniques. The best way is to look at principles -- look at the way joints move -- and then do free-flowing sparring exercises and push hands to practice recognizing opportunities for joint locks when they arise in a fight.
IMPORTANT RULE FOR CHIN-NA:
When someone attacks you, you will NEVER be able to say, "I'm going to get that guy in an Outside Wrist Twist." If that is what you are planning, he will probably knock you out while you are looking for your opportunity.
The best plan is no plan. And that is what practice is for.
You practice with this goal in mind: you want to be able to recognize opportunities for joint locks that arise during close contact with a partner. In that way, you learn to flow with what is happening.
There is no plan for any particular joint lock, but when the opportunity appears -- there it is!
Study this video, practice the techniques carefully with a partner. The next step is then to practice push hands or getting into a clinch with a partner and looking at how you can recognize opportunities that arise on their own during the give-and-take of a push hands or grappling session.
And as always, use caution and be gentle when practicing joint locks with your partners. And for those who are not on the website, the next video shows how to incorporate this into push hands. For more than 800 video lessons in the internal arts, plus downloadable pdf documents, try two weeks free at www.internalfightingarts.com.