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10 Questions on Shaolin Chin-Na

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  • wooden shoes
    Dear Sifu,

    Thank you for elaborating on the benefits of Chin-Na! It is an awe inspiring Art. I am very happy to attend this course!

    Dear Anton,
    Thank you and see you soon!

    Best wishes,
    Roeland Dijkema

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  • Anton S.
    Last but not least! The final question on benefits of Chin Na for daily life

    Question 11

    Could you discuss the benefits of Chin Na in daily life?

    Situ Roeland Dijkema


    It is worthy to note that transferring the benefits of kungfu training to daily living is a special feature of our school. As far as I know, it is unprecedented in all kungfu history. Some masters in the past might have benefited in their daily life as a result of their kungfu training, but, as far as I know, transferring the benefits of kungfu training to enrich our daily life, was never taught systematically and coherently as in our school.

    An obvious benefit of chin-na training is having a firm grip. This benefit can be transferred to our daily life, not just physically but also intellectually. As a result of our chin-na training, we have a firm grip of any concepts, aspirations, planning and other aspects of our daily life.

    Not many people realize that the use of tactics and strategies is important in chin-na. This use of tactics and strategies can enrich our daily life. As a result of our chin-na training, we do not merely perform our tasks haphazardly, but plan to complete our tasks well with tactics and strategies.

    Chin-na is an internal art, as its training involves essence, energy and mind. Please note that kungfu terms are used for convenience. In another context, of the three ultimates of Shaolin, chin-na and dim mark are considered external as they relate to external movements for combat, whereas neikung is internal as its cultivation does not involve much external movement.

    As an internal art, chin-na training contributes to good health, vitality and longevity. It is a good contrast to many martial arts which are detrimental to health.

    Chin-na is a compassionate martial art. Instead of cracking an opponent’s skull, breaking his bones or causing him serious internal injury so that he cannot continue fighting, chin-na disables an opponent from combat, but the opponent can later seek treatment to remedy the chin-na injury. Being compassionate enriches our daily life.


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  • David Langford
    Dear Sigung,

    Thank you for answering my question so thoroughly.

    All the best,

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  • Andy
    Thank you Sifu for the in-depth response.

    With Shaolin Salute,

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  • Anton S.
    You are welcome! I am happy to learn and share the word

    Question 10

    The Brazilian variant of Jiu-Jitsu is now a popular and respected martial art worldwide.

    Please can you discuss the similarities and differences between Shaolin Qin-na and modern Jiu-Jitsu.

    Sifu Andy Cusick


    According to Chinese sources, a Shaolin chin-na master, Chen Yun Pin, went to Japan and taught Japanese warriors. This art evolved to become jujitsu, which means “the art of softness”. Jujitsu sources, as far as I know and I am not sure of its validity, do not mention this Chinese origin.

    Japanese jujitsu was an effective fighting art. At the end of the 19th century, jujitsu evolved into judo, which means “the way of softness”, when the founder of judo, Kano Igoro, removed all dangerous techniques of jujitsu and made it into a sport.

    In the 20th century, Carlos Gracie developed the art which is now popularly called Brazilian jujitsu. Carlos Gracie, who himself was a world champion, learned from the great Japanese champion, Maeda Mitsuyo, who in turn learned from Kana Igoro.

    I do not know enough of jujitsu to give a fair comment on it. Hence my comparison with chin-na is based on my limited knowledge of jujitsu.

    Although jujitsu was reputed to originate from chin-na according to Chinese sources, there are more differences than similarities between Shaolin chin-na and modern jujitsu.

    A major similarity is that both chin-na and jujitsu employ extensively what may be called gripping. But the similarity is superficial. Gripping in chin-na is on energy points. Gripping in jujitsu, which is actually holding in chin-na terminology, is holding opponents in locks.

    In chin-na, a distinction is made between holding and gripping. Holding is keeping in a particular position, whereas gripping is pressing into energy points. Chin-na actually means “holding and gripping”. A chin-na practitioner first holds a part of an opponent’s body, like a limb, then he grips into the opponent’s energy points. Jujitsu, I believe, does not make this distinction between holding and gripping. What is applied by a jujitsu practitioner on an opponent, like keeping the opponent in a lock, is holding.

    Another similarity is that both are “soft” arts. (Here the term “arts” is used loosely. Modern jujitsu, protected by safety rules, is more of a martial sport than a martial art.) But chin-na is relatively “harder” than jujitsu.

    Again, the similarity is superficial. Shaolin chin-na is an internal art, whereas modern jujitsu is external. In Shaolin chin-na training, much emphasis is placed on essence, energy and mind, whereas in modern jujitsu training, emphasis is placed on external physical movements.

    Like the distinction between holding and gripping in chin-na but not in jujitsu, the Chinese master who taught chin-na to his Japanese students probably taught only external forms, leaving our gripping energy points and training of essence, energy and mind.

    Basically Shaolin chin-na is a martial art where there are no rules in actual fighting, whereas modern jujitsu is a marital sport protected by safety rules. In Shaolin chin-na, a practitioner can grip an opponent’s throat or genitals, but this is not allowed by safety rules in modern jujitsu.

    Paradoxically, despite being a martial art where no rules abide, sparring in chin-na results in far less injuries than in jujitsu where safety rules disallow drastic techniques. A practitioner in chin-na has better control than a practitioner in jujitsu.

    Not many people may realize that chin-na techniques, despite appearing to be simple but are actually profound, are combat ending, whereas jujitsu techniques are not, although they may look complicated. In other words, when a chin-na practitioner releases his chin-na techniques, his opponents cannot continue to fight, but a jujitsu practitioner himself is being immobilized when he applies his locks on his opponents.

    This is because the chin-na techniques stop the energy flow, resulting in the opponents’ inability to fight. When a jujitsu exponent applies his locks on his opponents, he has to hold on to the locks. When he releases the locks, the opponents are also released and can continue to fight.

    There is a lot of ground fighting in modern jujitsu, like in Brazilian jujitsu, but ground fighting is infrequent in Shaolin chin-na. Being a sport, jujitsu practitioners are not allowed to strike their opponents when attempting to take the practitioners down to begin ground fighting. But in a fighting art where there are no protective rules, opponents foolhardy enough to attempt taking practitioners down, will be seriously injured by chin-na practitioners.

    Outwardly chin-na and jujitsu may appear similar. But deeper examination shows there are many differences.


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  • Andy
    Originally posted by Andrew View Post
    Fantastic and insightful answers. Many thanks, Sifu and also Anton for making this possible. It is such a shame that I will not be able to attend this incredible course
    Indeed! Many thanks /O

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  • Andrew
    Fantastic and insightful answers. Many thanks, Sifu and also Anton for making this possible. It is such a shame that I will not be able to attend this incredible course

    Leave a comment:

  • Anton S.
    Next answer is up!
    Enjoy the sunday read

    Question 9

    A key aspect of our Dim Mark training was first to learn how to remedy any ill effects of the applied skill/technique. As manipulation of energy is included in Chin Na, how important is knowledge of remedy to Chin Na training? Does such knowledge also extend to the more physical damage that can be caused, e.g. dit da?

    As a follow up, if I may, can Chin Na be used for healing?

    Sifu Andrew Barnett


    A good training of dim mark will include remedying the injury caused. This is because dim mark injury is usually serious, sometimes causing death and often causing permanent disability if left unattended.

    In our Dragon Strength course where dim mark was taught, our remedial methods by taking out the injury with our hands, like a crane beak, followed by energy flow, are every effective. Because the remedy was applied immediately, all “victims” recovered within half an hour.

    It would take a longer time for most other people. It would also take a longer time for the victims to seek proper treatment. The usual remedies are herbal medicine, die da (pronounced like “thiet da”) or kungfu medicine, an-mo or massage therapy, and tui na which is also massage therapy. Such remedies may take about three months.

    All our Shaolin Wahnam family members, including those who may not have learned chin-na or dim mark, are indeed very lucky – probably luckier than they realize. We have energy flow. Not only it can overcome chin-na and dim mark injuries speedier, as well as all other forms of illness, more importantly it gives us good health, vitality and longevity.

    Remedy work is normally not included in chin-na training. This is because while chin-na will also disable opponents form further combat, chin-na injuries are usually not as serious as those of dim mark. But high-level chin-na masters can inflict more serious injury than dim mark, and in such cases these masters usually know remedial work.

    Remedial work in chin-na and dim mark is limited to chin-na and dim mark injuries. A knowledge of such remedial work enables him to treat chin-na and dim mark injuries competently but does not extend to treatment of other injuries, including those caused by physical damage, like those injuries in “die da” or kungfu medicine.

    A kungfu medicine doctor is a professional. He is comprehensively trained in traditional Chinese medicine in general, and in injuries caused by falling or being hit in particular. A chin-na or dim mark master who knows remedial work on chin-na or dim mark injuries is not comprehensively trained in traditional Chinese medicine; he only knows treatment of chin-na or dim mark injuries caused by him.

    However, many kungfu medicine practitioners today are not comprehensively trained in traditional Chinese medicine, but some of them are very good at their work, better in treating injuries than comprehensively trained Chinese doctors, who generally treat illness, not injury.

    In Chinese medical philosophy, a distinction is made between illness and injury. Treating an injury as an illness, or vice versa, may be detrimental. In the same way, although chin-na or dim mark masters with knowledge and practice of remedial work may not be as widely trained in treatment of injuries as “die da” practitioners, the masters’ treatment of chin-na or dim mark injuries may be better than that of “die da” practitioners.

    Chin-na is not used for healing. But if all other things were equal, a chin-na practitioner who has knowledge and practice of remedial work and if he also has studied healing, will be a better healer than other healers. He has at least some knowledge of energy network, and forceful hands to manipulate in his healing if necessary. However, he must make sure that if he uses his hands for manipulation work in healing, he must not use them as if he were applying chin-na techniques.


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  • Anton S.
    second part of the wonderful answer

    (Continued from Part 1)

    Generally, the effects of dim mark are more serious than those of chin-na. Unless the energy blockage is released, victims of dim mark may die, but victims of chin-na suffer from permanent disability. Dim mark injuries usually concern the body, whereas chin-na injuries usually concern the limbs.

    In both chin-na and dim mark, application is on energy points. In chin-na the injury is due to pressure applied on energy points, often by muscular strength though internal force is used by high-level masters, which stops the energy flow at those points. Hence, the force applied in chin-na is hard.

    In dim mark the injury is due to energy flowing from the exponent to the opponent to distort the latter’s energy network. The force applied in dim mark is soft. In some cases the dotting may stop the opponent’s energy flow at the relevant energy points.

    The philosophy of chin-na and the philosophy of dim mark are similar. Both chin-na and dim mark stop the natural energy flow of opponents causing them to lose their combat ability, or to be seriously sick if the energy blockage is not released. Both philosophies are based on compassion, enabling the victims to seek remedy later on. Calling dim mark the touch of death, which is often described as such, is incorrect. It is true that the victims may die if they do not seek treatment, but the concept behind its application is born of compassion, which is to disable opponents from further fighting but enable them to recover fully later on, instead of breaking their skulls or damaging their internal organs to stop further combat.

    The ways chin-na and dim mark are applied, are quite different. The application of chin-na is gripping, whereas that of dim mark is dotting. One is hard, the other is soft. Chin-na is usually applied on limbs, whereas dim mark on the body.

    Both chin-na and dim mark are very advanced arts. Not many people, including masters, have a chance to learn either one. Indeed, these arts are considered lost. It is incredible that both these arts are available in our school.

    The main reason why an exponent would use chin-na over dim mark, or vice versa, is that he is trained in only one of these two arts, if he is very, very lucky besides having put in a lot of dedicated practice. However, if a rare master knows both arts, his choice of using one over the other is often due to circumstances and not preference.

    If the combat circumstance is such that chin-na is favorable, he would use chin-na, if dim mark is favorable, he would use dim mark. It is the same as other combat techniques. If the circumstance is favorable for him to use a palm strike, he would use a palm strike. If the circumstance is favorable for him to use a felling technique, he would use a felling technique. A master who has the very rare opportunity and ability to be trained in both chin-na and dim mark will be spontaneous and versatile. He does not have to be limited to some preferred techniques, which may apply to lesser practitioners.

    I am very fortunate to be trained in both chin-na and dim mark. Looking over my sparring and fighting experience, I used chin-na more often than dim mark. In fact, I had not used dim mark at all in sparring or fighting, except when during demonstration I felt my energy accidentally penetrated into students which was similar to dim mark. I asked the students to perform “Lifting the Sky” or similar exercises to generate an energy flow to clear away any possible injury.

    I used chin-na more often because during the time I had a lot of sparring with other martial artists, I was trained in chin-na. I also had better control at chin-na, subduing opponents but not hurting them. Dim mark injury had to be more serious before opponents conceded defeat.

    Even then, I did not have to use chin-na often when compared to striking (apart from dim mark), kicking and felling. I reserved chin-na for difficult opponents, or when the circumstances arose, but I usually could defeat opponents using simpler techniques.


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  • Anton S.
    Next wonderful answer is up! It looks, like we are getting another classic Q&A section

    Question 8

    As Chin-Na is one of the 3 ultimates in Shaolin Kungfu, the other 2 being Dim Mak and Nei Kung, could you elaborate on the differences between the 3 ultimates?

    More specifically, how are the effects, applications and philosophy different between Chin-Na and Dim-Mak?

    Would there be a reason why an exponent would use Chin-Na over Dim-Mak in certain situations, or vice-versa?



    Chin-na is disabling opponents by gripping their energy points, wrong their tendons or dislocating their joints. Of the three ways of attack in chin-na, gripping energy points is most frequently used.

    Dim mark is dotting energy points to stop energy flow along a certain meridian. Both chin-na and dim mark are combat ending. When energy points are gripped in chin-na, or dotted in dim mark, energy stops flowing along that meridian or meridians or those parts of the opponents’ body, resulting in the opponents being unable to continue fighting.

    The other two main ways of subduing opponents in chin-na are separating tendons and dislocating joints. When tendons are torn, they fail to move muscles, and when joints are dislocated, the respective limbs are disabled. Both result in opponents not being able to continue fighting.

    The injury of both chin-na and dim mark, however, is reversible. The victims can consult competent masters or Chinese trained doctors to restore their energy flow, repair their tendons and fix their joints.

    There are countless ways of attack, but these countless ways can be classified into four categories, namely striking, kicking, felling and chin-na. Chin-na, therefore, is a category by itself. dim mark is one of a sub-category of striking. The main sub-category of striking is hitting with the hand. Strikes can also be executed with the shoulders, elbows, head, hips, buttock, and fingers as in the case of dim mark.

    Both chin-na and dim mark use the fingers, but chin-na employs gripping whereas dim mark employs dotting. Chin-na is more physical, and dim mark is energetic. It does not need much muscular strength of hard internal force in dim mark. The dotting is usually gentle, whereas much muscular strength or hard internal force is used in chin-na, thought chin-na masters of a high level may use energy or mind instead of physical force in chin-na.

    In this context, nei kung, which means internal art, refers to internal cultivation, as opposed to external movements, or wai kung, especially in combat. Hence, although chin-na and dim mark are highly internal, as it is the internal energy flow of the exponents that distort the energy network of the opponents, they are considered wai kung in this context.

    As a rough guide, whatever that is meant for combat and involves movement, is considered wai kung, or external art. Whatever that is meant for internal force and involves health, is considered nei kung. Some examples of nei kung in this context are Sinew Metamorphosis, Abdominal Breathing, and Zen meditation.

    While chin-na and dim mark are considered nei kung here, as they are meant for combat and involve movement, they are considered nei kung in another context because its training is through essence, energy and mind.

    It should be noted that kungfu and chi kung terms are meant for convenience, and are not definitive like scientific terms.

    Hence, the external arts, which in this case are chin-na and dim mark, involve external movements are for combat, whereas the internal arts, like Sinew Metamorphosis, Abdominal Breathing and Zen meditation, involve cultivation of essence, energy and mind, and are for health.

    The effects of chin-na and dim mark are similar. Both involve stopping of energy flow, which distort the energy network of opponents, resulting in their becoming sick and inability to continue fighting. If the effects are not taken care of, the damage can be very serious. But in kungfu culture in the past, victims were aware of the danger of such injury, and they would seek treatment from other masters or competent therapists.

    (Part 2 follows)

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  • Steffen
    Dear Sitaigung,

    thank you very much for answering our questions in such great detail! I am looking forward to this wonderful course!

    Dear Sifu,

    thank you very much for posting these incredible answers and your great work in organizing our trip to China! I am very grateful

    Kindest regards from Hamburg,

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  • Anton S.
    Next one

    Question 7

    To expand on Sipak Damian's question, would you be willing to share with us some of the best anatomical locations for separating tendons, gripping vital points, and wronging joints, and how to best go about accomplishing each of these three aspects of chin na gripping in application?



    The frequently used positions for separating tendons in chin-na are

    1. the throat
    2. the collar bones in front of the body
    3. the collar bones at the back of the body
    4. the upper arms
    5. the sides of the waist
    6. the back of the leg above the knees
    7. the calve muscles

    For gripping energy points, the frequently used points are

    1. at the shoulders near the armpits
    2. at the armpits
    3. at the collar bones at the back
    4. at the elbows
    5. at the wrists
    6. at the sides of the ribs
    7. at the knees
    8. at the shins
    9. at the ankles
    10. at the bottom of the feet

    For wrong points, the frequently used locations are

    1. at the neck
    2. at the shoulders
    3. at the elbows
    4. at the fingers
    5. at the knees
    6. at the angles

    To apply these chin-na techniques successfully, an exponent should use tactics and strategies to trick opponents to fight in a way suitable for the technique application. He should also have sufficient force in the training of the tiger claw, eagle claw or dragon claw.


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  • Frederick_Chu
    Thank you very much for the enlightening response, Sifu!

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  • Anton S.
    Second part here we go

    Continued from Part 1)

    “Grabbing is not appropriate to deal with multiple opponents.”

    This statement is only true for those who are not well trained in combat application in general and in chin-na in particular. And most martial artists are poorly trained in combat application and in chin-na. This is evident from the facts that many martial artists accept being punched and kicked for granted during sparring, and that chin-na is rarely taught. But if you are well trained in combat application and in chin-na, you can use chin-na to effectively deal with multiple opponents.

    “It is best to employ a direct attack and directly withdraw.”

    This statement is true for some times, but not true for other times. If your opponents are highly skillful, it may not be good to use direct attack or withdraw directly. It is better to use tactics and strategies to trick them to fight the way you want, and attack them when situations are favorable. When you have applied chin-na techniques on them, it is unwise to withdraw directly. It is better to deepen your chin-na techniques on them until they concede defeat.

    Moreover, you can use chin-na to attack directly and withdraw directly if the combat situation warrants it. In fact, many chin-na students who do not have the opportunities to learn tactics and strategies as well as combat philosophy, often attack and withdraw directly. In the coming Chin-Na Course, participants will have the opportunity to learn tactics, strategies and combat philosophy.

    My choice of chin-na techniques for our Swimming Dragon Baguazhang Set was made unconsciously. I did not consciously think of combat principles when choosing them for the set. But this does not mean that I chose them haphazardly. My choice, though unconscious at the time, was based on my understanding of kungfu philosophy and my experience of sparring and fighting. I felt that the chin-na techniques as well as all other techniques were the best for their particular combat situations.

    There are not many chin-na techniques in the Swimming Dragon Baguazhang Set. One chin-na technique is “Smooth Hand Lead Away” in Sequence 2, which uses one hand to hold and grip an opponent’s horizontal sweep

    Another is “Leisurely Grab Goat”, which is found in Sequence 3, and is similar to “Old Eagle Catches Snake” in Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan. This pattern is also found in other sequences of the Swimming Dragon Baguzhang Set. Here two hands are used to hold and grip an opponent’s striking arm.

    As chin-na is not important in Baguazhang, there are no special force training techniques or methods to train chin-na skills. The usual methods to develop internal force in Baguazhang are stance training, especially the pattern “Green Dragon Tests Claw”, and the eight mother palms, like what we did during the Baguazhang course at the UK Summer Camp many years ago. When practitioners have developed substantial internal force in Baguazhang, they will be forceful in chin-na techniques as well as all other techniques.

    As there are many force training methods in our school, any relevant methods will do. But “Fierce Tiger Cleanses Claws”, which I shall teach at the coming Chin-Na Course, is particularly effective.

    When our students have developed substantial internal force with any of our force training methods, like the consolidate method of Triple Stretch, or the flow method of Taijiquan, they can apply their internal force to chin-na techniques or any other techniques effectively. Indeed, our students with internal force may be more forceful in chin-na than chin-na students who practice jabbing their hands into beans or gripping Y-shaped branches.

    More importantly, besides effective chin-na application, internal force contributes to good health, vitality and longevity, whereas jabbing into beans and gripping Y-shaped branches only contribute to chin-na efficiency.


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  • Anton S.
    Question No. 6

    Question 6

    I've always been curious about the role of qin na in Baguazhang. My personal experience practicing Baguazhang and other martial arts has impressed upon me the immense usefulness of qin na, despite some translations of the Methods of Baguazhang deriding it, saying things such as:

    Baguazhang does not emphasize joint-locking or grabbing,
    My skill is not superior if I grab a person.
    Grabbing is not appropriate to deal with multiple opponents,
    It is best to employ a direct attack and directly withdraw.

    I am curious to know how Sifu came to choose the various qin na techniques for our Swimming Dragon set and, if Sifu is also willing to share, if there are any skills and force training methods that Sifu feels would most benefit the qin na skills of a practitioner of our Baguazhang, or other styles that may or may not be particularly well known for qin na.

    Fred Chu


    Baguazhang is well known for its footwork, like getting to the back of an opponent to attack him. It is not noted for chin-na. It is also not known for its felling technique, because while footwork is important in felling, it is different from that in Baguazhang. More than 90% of Baguazhang attack deals with strikes, primarily with the palm.

    Nevertheless, in my opinion, if you use chin-na effectively, it will enhance your specialization of Baguazhang. You should also take note that the nature of Baguazhang techniques are not particularly favorable for chin-na, but if you can add chin-na into your Baguazhang, you can surprise many opponents in combat.

    Before answering your fundamental question as to how I chose chin-na techniques in the Swimming Dragon Baguazhang Set, I would like to comment on the statements made by some Baguazhang practitioners deriding chin-na as mentioned by you.

    “Baguazhang does not emphasize joint-locking or grabbing.”

    It may be a matter of translation, but chin-na is not just joint-locking and grabbing. If you lock an opponent’s joint, or grab him, you yourself are also immobilized during combat. When you let go of the lock or grab, your opponent can continue to fight you. But if you release your chin-na technique, he cannot fight further because your chin-na would have disabled him from further fighting.

    “My skill is not superior if I grab a person.”

    That may be true of most Baguazhang practitioners because Baguazhang is not made for chin-na. But if you are already good at Baguazhang and add chin-na to it, without distracting from its combat efficiency, you will be more combat efficient.

    As an analogy, most Western trained doctors would find their treatment of patients compromised if they try to treat their patients according to traditional Chinese medicine, which is very different from the way they have been trained in Western medicine. But if you are well trained in chi kung healing, which is part of traditional Chinese medicine, and apply it without affecting your Western medical training, you will be more efficient in treating your patients.

    Not many Western trained doctors have a chance to learn chi kung healing well. Similarly not many Baguazhang practitioners have a chance to learn chin-na well.

    (Part 2 follows)

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