Qin na (擒拿)

Qin Na is one of the four major fighting categories in all Chinese martial styles. The four categories are: kicking (Ti), Striking (Da), Wrestling (Shuai), and Seize-Controlling (Na).

What is Qin na?

Qin Na is a fighting technique that uses holds and grips. It is often considered the most sophisticated of combat techniques. 

A Qin Na master needs excellent skills, strategies and tactics to apply Qin Na successfully. The Qin Na we teach at Shaolin Temple Chengdu is Shaolin Seventy-Two Qin Na Techniques.

In Qin Na training, it is essential to consider mind training and force development over techniques. It does not mean that techniques are unimportant; they are required to execute Qin Na. However, with mental focus and relevant force, techniques will be sufficient in successful Qin Na applications.

Joint-lock Qin Na techniques can be used against an opponent’s grabbing attacks and wrestling. Pressing and striking Qin Na can seal the opponent’s breathing, vein/artery, or Qi circulation, which can cause severe pain, numbness, unconsciousness, or even death.

The first few of the Shaolin Seven Two Qin Na Techniques are simple. Simple means something other than easy or ineffective. These patterns are widely used because they are simple to apply and effectively subdue opponents. But merely applying the techniques may not result in practical application. One has to devise suitable strategies and tactics to make holding and gripping the arms a logical consequence. A good strategy is letting the opponent attack; a good tactic is following their momentum. Then holding and gripping their arms become easy.

Most Qin Na can be learned quickly and adopted into any martial style. Qin Na has been known as the root of the Japanese arts, such as Jujitsu and Aikido, and practitioners can use the study of Qin Na to increase their understanding of the theory and principles of their skills.

Qin Na covers various defensive and offensive techniques, from fundamental to advanced. Any martial artist or even someone without experience can learn the fundamental techniques. These techniques can easily be adapted and incorporated into any martial style, such as Rou Dao (Judo), Shuai Jiao (Wrestling), Kong Shou Dao (Karate), or Tai Quan Dao (Tae Kwon Do) to increase the range of defence. The study of the advanced Qin Na is so deep that it will take over 20 years to learn, practice, and master. It is knowledge without limit. When Qin Na reaches an advanced level, the application of Qi and Jin becomes very difficult to understand. Without specific instructions from an expert Shifu, it is almost impossible to learn and master.

Qin Na Techniques

  1. Dividing the Muscle/Tendon (Fen Jin)
  2. Misplacing the Bone (Cuo Gu)
  3. Sealing the Breath (Bi Qi)
  4. Sealing the Vein (Duan Mai)
  5. Grabbing the Muscle/Tendon (Zhua Jin)
  6. Cavity Press (Dian Xue)
  7. Meridian Press (Dian Mai)


“Qin” in Chinese means “to seize or catch” in how an eagle seizes a rabbit. “Na” means “to hold and control.” Therefore, Qin Na translates as “seize and control.” In addition to the grabbing techniques, the art of Qin Na includes pressing and striking techniques. Grabbing Qin Na is more fundamental while pressing and striking techniques are more advanced. Grabbing Qin Na techniques control and lock the opponent’s joints or muscles/tendons so he cannot move, thus neutralizing his fighting ability. Pressing Qin Na techniques numb the opponent’s limbs, causing him to lose consciousness or even kill him. Pressing Qin Na is usually applied to the Qi cavities (Qi Xue) to affect the Qi circulation to the organs or the brain. Pressing techniques are used on nerve endings to cause extreme pain and unconsciousness. Qin Na striking techniques are applied to vital points and can be deadly. Cavities on the Qi channels can be attacked, or certain vital areas struck to rupture arteries.

Shaolin Qin Na

The Shaolin Temple (小林寺) is a well-known Buddhist martial arts training centre. Since many nonlethal Qin Na techniques are very effective, the warrior monks at the temple extensively researched, developed and trained the techniques from the beginning of its history. During the late Qing Dynasty in the 19th century, Shaolin techniques were revealed to laypeople society. The Shaolin Qin Na techniques and the different martial styles developed at the temple were passed down. Many Qin Na techniques were also developed with weapons specially designed to seize the opponent’s weapon. If your opponent is disarmed, he is automatically in a disadvantageous situation.

Qin Na five elements

Qin Na techniques are classified as Small Circle (Xiao Quan), Medium Circle (Zhong Quan), or Large Circle (Da Quan) Qin Na. Techniques applied to the fingers or wrists are called Small Circle Chin Na, while techniques for controlling the elbow are considered Medium Circle Qin Na. When a technique is used on the elbow and shoulder along with stepping, it is called Large Circle Qin Na.

All the basic training has both offensive and defensive purposes. In offence, one wants to control the opponent, while in defence, one wants to escape from the opponent’s attack and, hopefully, counterattack him. One must train five elements to use Qin Na effectively or to escape and counterattack quickly. 

  1. Li (muscular power). Muscular strength is needed to do the techniques and maintain control. 
  2. Qi (vital energy). Qi comes from the concentration of Yi (mind). When one concentrates, the Qi will reach the muscles and increase efficiency. 
  3. Jin. Slow Jin is a mixture of Li and Qi, in which Li plays the central role, but with fast Jin, the muscle becomes less critical than Qi. A jerking motion is necessary to generate a sharp, penetrating power which can be used for cavity strikes, misplacing the joints, or breaking bones. 
  4. Speed (Sudu). Without speed, one cannot use the techniques because the opponent can sense you easily and escape from the attempt. 
  5. Skill (Ji). Even if one has the above four elements, one must have a high degree of skill to control the opponent.

Qin Na training requires physical and mental training. Physical training includes the strength and speed of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Mental training trains the Qi, Yi (mental concentration), Shen (spirit), feeling (Gan Jue), and reactions (Fan Ying). When one trains their physical strength, one must also train the concentration and reactions, work on the power and speed of more than one specific area, and the whole body to act in a coordinated and effective manner. It means that when training the fingers, one also trains the wrist and arm.


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Speed (Sudu) is the most crucial factor in an effective Qin Na technique. With many Qin Na techniques, one must use only half or even one-third of the opponent’s power. However, without speed, one cannot control the opponent before he escapes or reacts against you. There are many other Qin Na techniques which do require considerable power to execute the technique and to maintain control. Suppose one needs to have the necessary speed and power. In that case, Qin Na will remain second rate, and one will often find that they have been exposed to counterattack or otherwise put themselves in a disadvantageous position. Therefore, speed and power are a major part of the training in a Qin Na course.

Written with Qi by Shifu Shi Yanjun

Shaolin Warrior Monks Head Coach

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