Finishing off

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Dealing with the attack

The danger with combat is that the student evades the punch, escapes the hold, slips the attack... only to leave the assailant free to continue their attack. This is foolish and very reckless.


Having successfully dealt with the initial assault, you must capitalise upon your success and incapacitate the opponent. Incapacitation can take different forms:

  1. A strike that winds, stuns or injures the attacker

  2. A projection

  3. A take-down, followed by joint leverage or a strike

  4. Chin na

Leaving the opponent free to re-attack is not a viable option. It is just plain dumb.

In tai chi there is no one-two. Only one.
The source of power is in the waist, with the root in the foot.

(Cheng Man Ching)

Will to fight

If you hit the attacker appropriately, they may lose their will to fight. This saves you a lot of time and energy but is not the most agreeable outcome from a legal standpoint.
Striking can be effective but seldom suggests restraint.


The outcome of a strike is unpredictable. What works on one person may not work on another. You cannot guarantee success. Ideally, a strike needs to at least wind the attacker.

Practice is not real life

The problem with class work is that your strikes are all being 'pulled' - you are not using full power. Some students may be tensing-up, moving out of the way or being macho.
Your strike may be extremely effective but they are pretending that it does not hurt.

Not sparing yourself

When a student is courageous enough to assault you without sparing themselves you have a more realistic picture of what is occurring. Most people hold back. Most people tense-up.
Only the bold student offers any sort of realism, and they will usually be honest about the effect of the strike.

A projection

You may have some sense of 'projections' and even be capable of pulling a few off. This is good. Keep practicing.
We do not formally teach projections until later in the syllabus, but you are quite welcome to experiment providing you show consideration.
A projection uses jing, and flings the attacker to the ground quite suddenly. Done correctly, it can remove the will to fight and calm the opponent down completely.

Shuai jiao

Shuai jiao gives you the ability to put somebody down with ease. Whilst projections, striking and kicking can put someone on the floor, a standard take-down requires you to maintain contact.
Being sticky allows you to follow-up immediately and you already have some measure of control over the opponent.
The real skill is to smoothly sustain contact and control throughout the entirety of the take-down. This is more intimidating and enables you to reduce the risk of unexpected counter-attacks.

Freeform triangle

Striking arts are not used to grappling. Grappling arts are not used to chin na. Grapplers do not expect an effective close-range strike.
Providing you observe the freeform triangle, you can confuse the opponent and sustain the initiative. Breaking the attacker's rhythm is essential. Do not play their game.


Having put someone on the floor, you need to finish them off:

  1. Strike them

  2. Lever the joint

Option 1 is the easiest for you at first and has the greatest likelihood of success.
Option 2 assumes a strong grasp of chin na, and may not work if you lack experience with misplacing the bones, dividing the muscles, sealing the breath and cavity press.
Floor work (control) introduces you to option 2 but is not viable if you lack competence. Striking may be wiser...
Aim to strike with power and then get back up. Do not wrestle with the opponent. You are not a wrestler.

Types of chin na

Chin na is a brutal skill that involves damaging the body using leverage and pressure. There are four broad areas of skill:

  1. Misplacing the bones

  2. Cavity press

  3. Dividing the muscle

  4. Sealing the breath

Chin na skills

Chin na is also considered in terms of effect:

  1. Breaking

  2. Sealing

  3. Seizing

  4. Splitting

  5. Tearing

If you cannot employ chin na skilfully, then you cannot rely upon it. So use with caution. In a real life confrontation, use what you know will work. Do not experiment.

Getting caught-up

The worst thing that can happen is that you get caught-up. Fighting with the attacker is inadvisable. Your aim is to incapacitate them, not perpetuate the situation.
Look for simple, easy options that require minimal effort and are not obvious. Subtlety is best. Make a small movement, a slight adjustment, and finish them.

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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 16 June 2023