CHIN NA - Joint Locking

The art of Chin Na is ancient, detailed and univeral. Real Chin Na takes a polished hand and a lot of experience. As people love to point out, there are only so many ways to lock a joint. They forget to mention that while that’s true, there are hundreds of ways to apply that lock when you combine everything into technique, intent, psychology, timing, deceit and dynamics.

Below are a number of books—some good, some great—that will aid you in your exploration of this art. We are well aware that there are other texts out there on the market but many are not of top quality. This can definitely work against you in the art of Chin Na.

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Jason Tsou demonstrates Chin Na Kung Fu #KS059 Chin Na: Taking Control of Energy
by Liu ZheJiang
Regularly $27.95 Plum price $18.95
140 pages, softbound, photos

This is a popular book for translation (the third version that we offer). It’s not hard to see why. True, the photos are old and a little small but there are a lot of great shots showing off theis joint-locking art. The introductions have historical interest showing the cultural doubts caused by Japanese, Western and Manchurian oppression. The author Liu Jin Cheng studied his basics from an original of this text which he augmented. This incarnation, showing the eight types of locking, was written as a manual for the Police Academy, Liu ZheJiang. Pubished in 1936 this text of “The Devil’s Hand” has a good attempted translation with a few English slips that I do not feel hinder over all understanding.


Two Versions of the Same Book: Practical Qin Na (Chin Na)
Practical Chin Na

KP032 Practical Qin Na V1
Explanation of the Qin Na Nine Heavens Secret Text
Zhao Da Yuan (student of Li Zi Ming and Zhang Jin)
~Trans. Huang Guo Qi & Tom Bisio
Regularly $39.95 Plum prices $36.95; Order two or more in this series only $33.95 each
343 pages, softbound, photos and drawings; some Chinese text included.

Here is a new, expanded and somewhat different version of what has been one of our most popular books on grappling. Practical Chin Na by Zhao Da Yuan is a text that I have always referred to as one of the best books translated into English on this significant phase of Kung Fu training. We now have two versions of this excellent text by adding Tom Bisio's new compilation of this classic.

This new translation, with commentary offered, is the first volume of a proposed complete series of Qin Na from Zhao.

The first volume is a union of two parts: the basic actions and applications of Chin Na, and the Nine Heaven Secret Text.
This newer version also adds codes, translations, medical theory and a puzzle at the end. Additionally, there are nice sections on Qigong and equipment.

The proposed second volume will cover basic training and advanced methods using throws and weapons defenses; the proposed third volume will show solo forms, their applications and weapons forms.

CLICK HERE for the complete Table of Contents.

See our comparison of the two versions.


Practical Chin Na

KP033 Practical Qin Na V2
Part 2: Foundational Training, Techniques and Methods
Zhao Da Yuan (student of Li Zi Ming and Zhang Jin)
~Trans. Huang Guo Qi & Tom Bisio
Regularly $39.95 Plum prices $36.95 ; Order two or more in this series only $33.95 each
330 pages, softbound, photos and drawings; some Chinese text included.

The second volume of Practical Qin Na by Zhao Da Yuan is now available. This entire series will definitely be one of the most complete representations in English of the art of Qin Na. Over 1000 photos in just this text show the movements both as individual rehearsing and two person application. What heightens the interest is that Qin Na, which is generally treated as an “add on” is here shown as a entire wing of Kung Fu with a culture of its own. For instance, I was introduced to the phrase “Dead Hand Qin Na” which means the beginner’s level of evading an opponent’s Qing Na and also the application of the basic, un-countered locks and throws. This is an excellent division for teaching purposes and will remove that tendency everyone has to immediately ask for the counter to a movement they haven’t even mastered yet. This section comes right after the Basics and before the Two-person.

Next we have Live Hand, and working against weapons. One of the most important points here is that the text on the “Live Hand” section assumes resistance and attempted escape from the opponent, giving the reader a much more practical idea of what it takes to actually slap one of these on a non-cooperating person. Is this important? Some of the earlier presentations such as Yang Jwing Ming’s first Qin Na text were so staged that attempting the catch and lock might actually put the practitioner into a danger zone. Of course this can happen at any time but as training advances this aspect should never leave the mind. (I like Dr. Yang’s work but this early attempt did not, I feel, meet his standards.)

When we saw the first volume of this text we were very careful to check the correspondences between it and Tim Cartmel’s exceptional volume of practical Chin Na. You can read above our evaluation and recommendation for volume one in the review above. This volume two is completely new material and presents none of that crossover.




Practical Chin Na

KP036 Practical Qin Na V3
Part 3: The Essence of Qin Na Forms and Applications
Zhao Da Yuan (student of Li Zi Ming and Zhang Jin)
~Trans. Huang Guo Qi & Tom Bisio
Regularly $39.95 Plum prices $36.95 ; Order two or more in this series only $33.95 each
369 pages, softbound, photos and drawings; some Chinese text included.

This is the third volume in an impressive compilation of classical QinNa techniques and practices. Would have liked to see the photos a bit larger (admittedly, this is one of my perennial gripes) but the content is vital and highly educative.

Among its key qualities is the use of succession —with one technique following another — guaranteeing that, if the first attempt does not satisfy, the next variation is close by, and can be naturally adapted. Dozens of locks, dropping throws, shoulder controls, locks developed from punches, and much more. Additionally, it provides something rather less common than might be expected, that is, Qin Na Forms, both hands and weapons. Truly impressive

This is one of those rare books that feels like the material could have been gathered from secret documents, although we suspect that hard work, wide knowledge and rough experience are the main ingredients. Truly a classic in the field of Qin Na studies, and the kung fu world owes a tremendous acknowledgement to Tom Bisio for bringing its translation forward, as well, of course, to Zhao Shifu for sharing this knowledge.

Take a glance at the Table of Contents!


If you are interested in Qin Na, this entire series is an education.




Practical Chin Na

KP015 Practical Chin Na
Zhao Da Yuan
~Trans. Tim Cartmell
$34.95 Plum price: $29.95 205 pages, softbound, photos and drawings

Chin Na (the art of Seizing and Locking) is a component of every Kung Fu style. The basic principle is to seize with one or both hands a certain joint among the opponent's limbs, to have not only control of that joint but of his entire body. The skills shown in this book—written in Chinese and well-translated into very understandable English—survey just those skills.

Cartmell's decades-long experience and championship record in the area of Chin Na and grappling enhance the understanding for the reader. Not only does the book logically divide everything into small and large twining movements, but it gives an overview of the necessary skills involved in Chin Na. If you are looking to buy only one book on learning and practicing Chin Na, this is our recommendation. Overall one of the best books on Chin Na in English.

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See below for a broader comparison of the two versions.


Practical Chin NaPractical Chin NaKP015 or KP032 Practical Qin Na/Chin Na Compared

These two books—both authored by Zhao Da Yuan—have great attributes. And any comparison of the two is something unprecedented. In fact, although much of the Cartmell's version initially appears to be included in Bisio's version, there are some differences, even in the material itself.

Tim Cartmell’s earlier translation concentrates strictly on the physical and practical techniques and principles of solid Chin Na application. At 208 pages, this version lives up to the title of solely practical applications. Also, many drawings in Cartmell's text are accompanied by clear photographs— including a number of applications demonstrated by Zhao himself—(which do not appear in Bisio's text) and slightly larger illustrations. Cartmell's text appears to offer additional set-up illustrations in the technique sections that do not appear in Bisio's text. Also, Cartmell has organized the material by parts of the body.

Tom Bisio version of Zhao's Qin Na treatise includes additional translations of documents known as the Qin Na Nine Heaven Secret Text. These poems in Chinese are said to contain the secrets of Qin Na. There is some tough going grasping not only ideas about Qin Na strategy and general Kung Fu practice, but also correlations to Chinese medicine and Qigong theory. Bisio's version boasts the first translation into English of this segment and includes an example of the de-coding process and a puzzle section at the back. Offering it is meant to assure that the core of this art will survive.

For concentrating on the explicit training of the techniques and applications, both books are good with some advantage to Cartmell’s text, given the photos and additional illustrations. However, for those whose studies involve further research into the “poems,” medical correlations, theories, translations and explanations, consider the entire proposed three book set by Bisio, and purchase the newer edition.

Of course, if you are a true enthusiast/collector, the knowledge and presentation in both books will complement each other on your martial library shelf.

Note: The classic two-volume DVD set issued by Tim Cartmell is an excellent accompaniment to either book.

Practical Chin Na #KC016/KC017 Chinese Grappling
159 pages each, softbound, photographs
by Willy Lin

This is it, one of the first books ever written in English on the art of Chin Na. We spent many hours twisted and turned by Willy Lin's Chin Na technique many years ago and we can attest that it is not only authentic but almost bafflingly simple. Other practitioners from different styles have come to us to confirm the impression. Willy is the first person to use the phrase "Tian Shan Pai" in the west. He is one of the top disciples in this style which emphasizes Chin Na. Whatever controversies there may be about TSP's origins (none in our mind) the tire hits the road when it comes to joint locking techniques. This is not only a very clear introduction to the subject but, surprisingly, one of Ohara's best designed books for the subject  and, when it was released in 1984, a ground breaking text.


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Jason Tsou demonstrates Chin Na Kung Fu #KC010 Chin Na: Taking Control of Energy
Jason Tsou & Arthur Schonfeld
$49.95 reduced from 89.95;
About 100 Minutes plus 50 pages

We've been thinking about this one for weeks. There are a lot of good Chin Na presentations out there but, once again, Jason Tsou has come along with the "teacher's" view of the subject. Never one to dumb things down he shoots right to the core of the subject with a very different and yet far more traditional view. Take it from us, many of the other presentations are much more "step-by-step friendly" but this is the way your teacher thinks about the subject.When he's correcing your hand position he's thinking, "How am I going to get this fellow to snatch the moment (angle, concept, whatever). These are much trickier to grasp than wrists. Tsou's approach is also very interesting because he is explicit on classical concepts: The two DVDs cover the Five Methods of Chin Na including Dim Mak, the Whirpool Concept, the Neurological System, the Ground as an Ally, Mind Power, Flow and Change along with examples and training methods. The entire TWO DVD presentation is from a seminar with Tsou and a student demonstrating as he talks. There are a few sound problems here and there but none of any significance. The book has over fifty pages of text and is a great bonus because it essentially outlines the details from the two DVDs. Many people will be using this to teach their students which, in the spirit of a collective peer group such as in science, is exactly what should happen. But Tsou was here first with this complete exposition. For the right people, definitely worth the money.


See Jason Tsou's new book: Yang Taiji the Untold Story
Also check out The Random Circle and applied Push Hands techniques

Chin Na FaKC009 Chin Na Fa
Liu Jin sheng & Zhao Zhang - trans. Tim Cartmell
Normally $16.95, Plum Discount 25%    $12.75 ;   111 pages, softbound, photos and drawings.


Back Cover: "First published in 1936, Chin Na Fa is the seminal work in the field, written by two of the foremost expert of the time, .... as a training manual for the police academy of Zheijiang Province. Renowned author and Brazilian jujitsu champion, Tim Cartmell offers this clear, compelling new translation with authentic historical documentation. Here is the primary source material and most comprehensive explanation available of these lock, choke, and breaking techniques of Chinese grappling, from which derive many current martial arts techniques that have been modified for use today in both competition and self defense. "

Chin Na FaKC011 Chin Na in Ground Fighting
Al Arsenault and Joe Faulise
358 pages, softbound, photos and drawings
$29.95 Special Plum Discount — only $22.95


This book is crammed with information. This team of police officer and martial instructor have taken the classic information of the Chin Na techniques, applied it to ground fighting and then researched the acupuncture points as pressure points experientially testing their effects, gathering physiolgical information (such as an autopsy picture of a trachea) and correlating to the results. We are doing a special thing with this book, save 33% by checking out our fine DVD section on this subject and buying any DVD there.

Practical Chin Na

KP015 Practical Chin Na
Zhao Da Yuan - trans. Tim Cartmell

$24.95 ; 205 pages, softbound, photos and drawings

Chin Na (the art of Seizing and Locking) is a component of every Kung Fu style. The basic principle is to seize with one or both hands a certain joint among the opponent's limbs to have not only control of that join but of his entire body. The skills shown in this book - written in Chinese and translated into very understandable English - survey just those skills. An inexpensive but, to our mind, actually quite serviceable text. Not only does it logically divide everything into small and large twining movements but gives an over-view of the necessary skills involved in Chin Na. Over all one of the best books on Chin Na in English. Show me the DVD set

Shaolin Grappling Chin Na

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KI001 Illustrated Shaolin Grappling
Shaolin Chin Na Shu
Yang Wun
Regularly $12.50   Plum Price $10.95
158 pages, Chinese and English, Softbound

This simple, illustrated book shows over 100 self-defense techniques all of the joint locking and throwing variety. Nice line illustrations and sequential breakdowns explain step-by-step instructions for the applications of these movements. Though humble we actually think this is better than many more self-impressed examples we see. For the beginning student of martial arts and Chinese language this has the advantage of being en face (both languages printed facing one another). A good basic text.

Effortless Combat Throws

KE002 Effortless Combat Throws
Tim Cartmell
$24.95 ; Softbound, 196 pages, photographs

The author has spent over 25 years studying martial arts, ten of those in China. This text explains basics throws and locks in a clear and easily understood manner. The emphasis is on effective throwing without the use of brute force. Cartmell discusses the correct angles and execution of throws with particular and important emphasis on each step correctly applied. He also gives a good section on General Principles which can not only be applied to other grappling but indeed all martial arts. This book is supplemented by a good VIDEO which exactly duplicates the throws discussed. Each throw is demonstrated by the author and show a number of times.

Purchase this companion DVD along with the book of the same name , and get a 10% discount!    
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