Chin na applications
Tai chi syllabus

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Chin na

Chin na prevents grappling by limiting your partners ability to move; and typically involves seizing, joint leverage or a cavity seal.
We never aim to hold anyone with Sifu Waller because it can easily become a battle of strength. Use chin na to destabilise and lever - never to hold.
In a worst case scenario, apply a break; but do not consider this option casually and certainly never in class.


Black belt students gain a good sense of chin na. The training is far more extensive as you proceed through the syllabus with formal drills studied initially, followed by a lot of freeform practice.
Ideally chin na must occur as part of the flow - a moment within the relationship - rather than a technique. Chin na is best used to confound a grappler and create the opportunity to throw or strike.

Freeform triangle

The 3 tai chi skills of shuai jiao, chin na and form application enable the student to deal with different stages of an attack:

  1. Striking is defeated by grappling (shuai jiao or pushing hands/monkey paws)

  2. Grappling is defeated by chin na

  3. Chin na is defeated by striking

Students learn how to develop their own response to attack, utilising this simple triangular premise.


The triangle suggests an approach/principle (not a technique) and the validity of the premise can easily be tested. Try applying chin na to a strike without grappling first.
You may be lucky and succeed, but you cannot reasonably apply a chin na without prior contact, and that contact constitutes 'grappling'.


Each side of the triangle teaches you where to go next and what to do next; making the transition between states smooth and easy. You do not have to think, you just have to flow.

Dealing with a grappler (chin na)

Grappling is countered using chin na. Students initially learn how to 'misplace the bones'. Misplacing the bones enables greater incapacitation of the attacker's body. It causes pain and limits mobility.
The time-commitment is also reduced. Combat become easier and the potential damage is far greater.

Leverage principles

Every misplacing the bones application contains unique leverage principles.
Once the student can identify, understand and employ the principle, they can develop new applications using the same principle.
Gaining this skill moves the student notably away from a technique-based mentality. This is a critical forward step in terms of ability.

Jing/leverage principles

The ability to express jing more comprehensively is also very useful when misplacing the bones.
Students refine their jing skills throughout the curriculum but only really fully comprehend jing during the advanced level of practice.
An exponent can see each leverage principle as a means of compromising the attacker in a far more comprehensive manner.
Rather than simply misplace the bones, combining more sophisticated jing with the leverage principle enables the student to affect the attacker psychologically, emotionally and physically.
A full grasp of balance and centre are paramount now.

More applications

More advanced misplacing the bones skills are also taught later in the syllabus (finger chin na, flowing chin na).
These are considerably more intricate than the initial skills and add another layer of sophistication to the combat.

Going further...

It is important to note that 'misplacing the bones' is just one of four main chin na skills. Sealing the breath, cavity press and dividing the muscle are too dangerous for inexperienced students to explore.

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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 16 June 2023