Pan Qing Fu's Joint Locks
Qin Na's Paralyzing Grip

By Dianne Naughton

The Oct/Nov 98 issue of this magazine introduced Grand Master Pan Qing Fu as a "Gangbuster." This name arose from his unarmed capture of some of China's toughest gang leaders during the Cultural Revolution in the 60's.

Living today in a stable country and, even so, having so many deadly weapons readily available, many people question the validity of learning a martial art for self-defense. Keeping the martial spirit alive is now done with creative advertising and club owners suggesting new reasons for practicing. From this stems new categories of martial artists. Some love the tradition, respect, art, and history. Others prefer the competitive environment. And at opposite ends of this scenario are the warriors preparing for battle and those merely wanting to lose a dress size.

Pleasing such a varied group of students with one topic seems almost impossible but that is what makes martial arts famous. It makes the impossible, possible. If you can bring this diverse group together, and doing so is difficult, they will all enjoy joint locks. It doesn't have a catchy name and it has been hidden in secrecy for far too long, but its appeal is unmatched.

By using this one word, history, half of the audience has just stopped reading. Memories of the confined, overbearing, high school experience clouds people's perception of what is interesting and what is boring.

"Take the muscles out of your body, slowly, with a knife," or in Chinese, "Ling Dao Gua." (This isn't a direct translation but with a meaning like that, exact translation isn't necessary). This was the fate of a soldier taken by the enemy during wartime. The Chinese generals used this description to deter their men from wanting to be taken alive if capture was imminent.

To "grab a live tongue," or "Zhua She Tou," gave the enemy a tremendous advantage. Good strategic decisions depended on knowing your enemy's next move and the only way to know was through torture. Grabbing "torturees" required special training and Special Forces. The highly trained special force would cross enemy lines in the darkness of night and although they brought guns, they knew using them would break the silence. To remain invisible, these professionals moved liked cats, and possessed immense cunning. When their target showed adequate vulnerability, they attacked from the long grass. Using one of their perfectly sharpened blades against the neck of their enemy may seem like an obvious method of capture but it is not practical against a person that will fight to the death rather than experience "Ling Dao Gua." Out of necessity, the Special Forces used joint locks. "In this situation, joint locks are very useful," Grand Master Pan teaches. "By controlling the joints, the pain will dampen any attempt to fight, and by placing a towel in their mouth, they can't scream. It is like they have no choice, they will follow you back to headquarters for questioning."

"Sometimes a knife is better than a gun, and sometimes barehanded is better than a knife," Grand Master Pan explains. "In the olden days, enemies fought at close range. Because they were close together, they used barehanded techniques -- punches, kicks, grabs, throws and joint locks. The power from joint locks goes very deep, and breaks joints easily. They are very effective for controlling the opponent, and this is why joint locks were considered the top techniques and were kept a secret."

To be in martial arts is to belong to an art, sport, system of defense, and history as massive as it is old. Contributing to its rich diversity and appeal are the many different styles, both internal and external, all enhanced by the endless amount of long, short, and soft weapons. Within each style lies a uniqueness that reflects the geography and people of the location that it was developed. And complimenting some styles are joint lock techniques. "You have many different locks to choose from," Grand Master Pan assures. "Some joint locks are easy to learn, understand, and use but some are very complicated, difficult to learn, and difficult to use."

Wushu, believed by some to be merely a sport, contains some joint locks. Competitors that know these meanings can compete with more spirit and direct their power accurately. Judges can appreciate the precise techniques. As with all styles, and most things of value in life, when you understand the reasoning, learning and practicing become interesting.

Science & Joint Locks
Science is another word that many people do not consider of interest when they work out but, when explained, it definitely brings a smile to bright, young faces as well as to the often fatigued adult students. I have seen people of all ages light up when Grand Master Pan introduces the bones, tendons, and muscles effected by different training methods and, in particular, the pain achieved with a good joint lock. Anatomy, biology, and kinesiology become exciting and interesting when he shows students how they can achieve greater strength and stability by making a few minor adjustments to their practice or habits. By knowing more about your body, you have more control over your health. Using two languages, Grand Master Pan can add a different dimension and simplicity that our English/Latin tends to complicate. For example the wrist, the first joint most people learn to lock, contains 8 bones: Hamate, Capitate, Trapezoid, Trapezium, Pisiform, Triquetral, Lunate, and Scaphoid.

The same bones in Chinese give us a better understanding of their shape. "Zhou" means "boat." "Yue" describes its "half moon" appearance, "San Jiao" is a "triangle," "Dou" refers to its "bean" shape. "One large bone the same as the head bone" and "one small bone the same as a head bone" translates to "Da Xiao Tou," and "Gou" implies this bone has a "hook" shape. By understanding the placement and limitations of these bones, the students can adjust their work environment to relieve pain, or improve their science mark and everyone has fun learning anatomy.

The wrist lock has many Chinese names: "Xiao Qin Na," "Xiao Chan Si," and "Jin Si Chan Wan" has an interesting translation - it means, "thin gold rope on your wrist." "Na Wan Zi" means control wrist, but usually in English we refer to the techniques as "Wan Zi Qin Na" or wrist lock. When they done correctly, the lock forces one bone to change the position of the other bones in the wrist. They actually move out of their normal position. "Absolutely, this is painful and the opponent can not fight back," Grand Master Pan assures.

When purchasing equipment, especially electronics, the features, functions, and details determine its value and usefulness. The same is true with joint locks. You improve the details and your joint locks become very powerful and valuable.

A child can easily decide what movements create pain in his or her own body but trying to duplicate that pain in someone else requires more expertise. "It is difficult to use joint locks, especially if the opponents are very strong and have a lot of power because people are smart, they won't let you twist their joints in many directions. They will make it difficult for you," Grand Master Pan cautions. "For example, an opponent will always grab you with their strong hand, and position themselves at a good distance and angle. For this situation, if you don't know the details, it may not work because you are using strength to fight strength and absolutely, the stronger person will win.

"If you know how to use your strength to the details your opponent will suddenly feel that you have a lot of power, and it's all on his joint!" Grand Master Pan smiles. "The opponent can't fight back. He will probably kneel in front of you, he will surrender."

Many people find it difficult to use a joint lock without using a punch or kick or some type of distraction first. Relying on a distraction can hinder your training. Grand Master Pan suggests you use a different method to practice locks. "When someone grabs you, only use joint locks. If you practice like this, you will understand joint locks better. If you punch or kick first then apply the lock, no one will believe or respect your locking technique. By practicing like this, if you need to use it in a real situation, it will be spontaneous and will work without the punches or kicks."

Grand Master Pan acknowledges, "Of course, in certain situations, you must use everything to protect yourself." But he hopes you recognize that joint lock techniques are a very deep and advanced science and that you practice these movements with the respect they deserve. "When I was in China," he recalls, "many teachers and students asked me why the locks weren't more effective. After moving to the West, I still have many people ask me the same questions."

Although it is difficult to describe the intricacies in writing, Grand Master Pan has some suggestions. "In a wrist lock, for example, if you bend the other person's elbow a little bit, it will increase your success." By bending the elbow, you not only lock the wrist but you also lock the forearm, elbow, and shoulder. "If you just lock the wrist," he continues, "the opponent can turn in the opposite direction, and escape. With a little bend in the elbow, you can control their whole body."

"Everyone has strength and power, especially if they are nervous or surprised," Grand Master Pan cautions, "but it is difficult to be stronger than the power from a real technique. If your power is used to good techniques, it becomes many percentages stronger than what you consider to be your normal strength."

Pressure Points
Since Grand Master Pan teaches all levels of martial artists, from beginners to people who have owned their own club for many years, some questions he receives require immediate attention to avoid a "loss of face" for the instructor. Recently, a teacher needed advice about how to lock a student that was over three hundred pounds. One solution is to combine pressure points with your locks. Pressure points control the ability of the joint to function as well as effecting the nerves, muscles, and tendons. Grand Master Pan explains, "By combining the two, it is much stronger and easier to be successful. The opponent can not leave because the area hurts and is numb at the same time."

The pictures indicate the location of a few points. You and your studio friends can experiment with these locations and angles but Grand Master Pan warns, "I want to remind everyone, seriously, that I introduce these details not so you can hurt someone, or use this to show off, but because I want everyone to help each other and practice techniques that have helped me defend my country, my family and myself."

Click here for Feature Articles from this issue and others published in 2000 .

About Dianne Naughton :
Dianne Naughton is a martial artist and writer from Kitchener, Canada, and a longtime protege of Grand Master Pan.

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