What is trapping in martial arts and what is it for?
Trapping is a type of interaction widely used in Wing Chun (under the name Phon Sao) and in Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do:
- It consists of “capturing” the adversary through a tactical mobilization of our limbs (not necessarily grabbing him with our hands)
- It is not only a defensive or evasive action, it can also indeed foreshadow or include attack and counterattack
- It allows to block, to divert, to unbalance, to move, to dampen, to block, to strike, to put in lever (etc., read also A free home study Chin Na course for beginners)
- Although it could suggest only a play of arms, it can also include the legs and the rest of the body
The basics of trapping in 6 Dragons Kung Fu
The necessary skills
Outside a collaborative training context, trapping is not easy at all, we need:
- Spatial intelligence (read The most important skill in combat)
- Speed and explosive power (read Speed and quickness)
- Tactile sensitivity (see 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s reactive dummy demo)
- A good muscular memory (read The muscle memory)
- A good structure and balance (read also Kung Fu rooting: the pyramid concept)
- Deception capability
- Adaptability (read 6DKF’s interactions: from the strong blow to the light touch)
- Knowledge of the body dynamics
As anyone can understand, a beginner cannot manage such requirements, only after long training, it is possible to start to see the first few results.
Trapping goals samples
- Temporarily immobilize the opponent (not necessarily causing him damage)
- Reach a position favorable to execute a technique (eg. a Chin Na)
- Create / exploit an opening to hit a focal target (eliminating any barrier)
- Intercept the opponent’s action
- Unbalance the opponent
- Avoid being hit (even counterattacking)
- Gain space / time to act
- Bring the opponent to the ground (read also The 3 phases of a throw)
Trapping interactions samples
in 6 Dragons Kung Fu, we look at the human body as a set of weapons. When we talk about trapping there are no limits in relation to the elements that we can implement.
For example (beyond the normal interactions related to striking) we can use:
- Hands / fingers – To grab, push, channel (etc.)
- Forearms / elbows – To divert, control, capture, transfer inertia (etc.)
- Shoulders / back – To unbalance, move, block (etc.)
- Feet – To anchor, slide, hinder (etc.)
- Knees – To deviate, push, capture (etc.)
The “weapon” that we instinctively choose to use must always be the one that, in the context of a specific fight scenario, responds best to the need for:
- Economy of effort
The trapping distances
Trapping exists when there is contact. The first thing to understand is that there are basically 2 distances (read also Ideal distance from the opponent during a fight) that we must learn to manage:
- Short distance – When we are closer, our guard shrinks to protect our body; in this case the trapping contact does not provide grabbing as a first action, we should prefer to deviate and control through the forearms (grasping only in a second time, when we are surer of not being exposed to the opposing action)
- Middle distance – When we are at a middle (or long) distance our guard widen and one of our arms try to catch the adversary limbs; as it happens for Wing Chun (through Man Sao, “searching hand”), in 6 Dragons Kung Fu we use a similar method of catching the opponent’s action (read ), the extended arm is bent at 90-120°, ready to hit and grab
A note by Master Kongling – In both cases, there is always a hand (similar to the Wing Chun’s Wu Sao), a leg, a knee and an elbow ready to protect / defend: genitals, chin, liver, ribs, jaw…
In the next articles of this series, we will see how to develop trapping attitude (the exercises) and the basic techniques.
In-depth video courses
- Hand grip strength conditioning – Learn how to improve the capability to firmly hold the opponent
- How to acquire the Soft Touch skill – This is one of the best ways to approach the opponent’s action
- Introduction to the idea of Precision Control – The skill that connects all the other ones
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
- In light of the above, how would you define (in your own words) trapping?
Author: Master KonglingFounder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.
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